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One out of every five U.S. residents functions at a "below basic" level of literacy, struggling with tasks such as rea... More
Summary: Joe Joe Rawlings knows something is going on at school and that it's not good. About the time he learns that gangs are forming in his school, his friend Tyrone starts pressuring him to join. Joe Joe has been reading about Ralph Bunche ... can he follow his example or will the pressure be too much? This is a story for middle-school aged readers that provides history as well as problem solving solutions.
Type of Reading: family reading, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 5 to 9; read yourself: 8 to 10
Interest Level: 6 to 9
Age of Child: Read with 4½ year old child.
Young Reader Reaction: This is one of the most text-driven books we've read with our preschooler. Still, s/he sat through the whole story and was paying close attention to Joe Joe and his grandmother.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is an outstanding book. It offers historical fact in a context that is relevant to today's kids. Unfortunately, the setting of gangs in elementary school is all too real.
Pros: The story is contemporary, relevant and positive. The illustrations are complemented by historical data, including photographs and quotes.
Borrow or Buy: Definitely borrow. The story is incredibly valuable for today's kids and is a book you can share that offers insight without sounding preachy.
Educational Themes: The story offers opportunities to explore gangs, peer pressure, friendship, personal values, perseverance, and the consequences of one's choices. The information on Ralph Bunche serves as a good baseline for doing more research.
Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book series, life lessons, multicultural, Christian, contemporary, urban, Black History
Date(s) Reviewed: June 2006
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