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Book Review: Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Summary:  
Pride and Prejudice gets remixed in this smart, funny, gorgeous retelling of the classic, starring all characters of color, from Ibi Zoboi, National Book Award finalist and author of American Street.

Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.

When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.

But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.

In a timely update of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant re-imagining of this beloved classic.

 
Release Date: January 2019
Age Group: YA, Contemporary, Retelling
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:
I am always a sucker for a retelling of P&P. And about 50% of the time I’m disappointed with the conclusion, they always seem to fall flat. Why can’t they wrap up in blazing glory?!

Here’s what I loved:

  •           I really enjoyed Papi and Mama's strong relationship and presence. I especially loved Papi's voice--
"read to travel," Papi always says.
       The best advice. Ever. I swear I could shout that from the roof tops life a crazy woman
       and it still wouldn't be enough.

  •      The clash of culture within a culture (“the block”): Madringa herself and all that she represented, the meshing between Haitian and Dominican decent, and of course gentrification. 

  •         I enjoyed the poetry, haiku and metaphors that Zuri uses to express herself. They were clever and beautiful.

  •         The story is written in an easy manner that I think teens will enjoy.

  •         The characters fit into the basic blueprint of P&P but with a nice cultural twist. It was like stepping into another way of life. I loved learning all the common terms of the Benitez culture-- the corner bodega, the goddess Ochun, and what is bougee.

  •         For me this retelling kept reminding me of the short story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker. I think they would actually pair well together for a high school setting or cultural study.

  •          The discussion of “privilege” was done really well. Benitez versus Darcy. Black versus Black. London roots versus Dominican-Haitian descents. This block versus that block.
You do know there are black people who have money out there in the world, Z, right?  ~Janae


Here’s what I didn’t enjoy:

  •          If you are going to bring Darcy to my door you better bring a strong broody hunk. Darius was a hunk but pretty weak. I don’t think I was ever convinced that he was madly in love with Zuri. And Zuri sure wasn’t in love, she flat out said she didn’t know what it was yet. Meh.

  •          I just didn’t like Zuri. I liked her poetry and seeing how her world was expanding with life experience but she herself was too judgmental and rude. 

  •          The story is truly a telling. No build up. Very anticlimactic and P&P needs the build up! I need the moment when Elizabeth and Darcy realize they are both madly in love with each other.


  •      Overall, I liked it. I’d recommend it to teens, teachers and P&P fans. It’s an easy read. I don’t think a teen audience will pick it apart like I did.

I actually read half the book and started over with the audiobook. I wanted to make sure I heard all the terms and language correctly and not in my butchered Southern drawl. I am so glad I listened and got the full effect of what it means when something is bougee. 

 

This article originally appeared on I'd So Rather Be Reading

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Book Review: All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold & Suzanne Kaufman


Summary: A warm, welcoming picture book that celebrates diversity and gives encouragement and support to all kids.

Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where kids in patkas, hijabs, and yamulkes play side-by-side with friends in baseball caps. A school where students grow and learn from each other's traditions and the whole community gathers to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

All Are Welcome lets young children know that no matter what, they have a place, they have a space, they are welcome in their school.


Release Date: July 2018
Age Group: Childrens, Picture Book
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

REVIEW
Illustrations
The illustrations of All Are Welcome is top notch. I love when I get an advanced copy of an unbound book and I really hit the jackpot with this one because several of its pages are poster worthy! The illustrations are beautiful and the attention to cultural detail was beautiful.

Storyline
I enjoyed reading this aloud and the rhyming text was fun. You can spend as much or little time as you want on each page, again the illustrations are great.The repetition of All Are Welcome Here was such a kind, beautiful mantra.

Message
To preface, here is the cultural learning environment of my elementary children: we live deep in Southeast Texas, we live in a small town of approximately 14,000, our town is at least 80% Caucasian and there are about 50 churches along our main street.

With that said, my children are well traveled and have experienced a lot of different cultures in their young lives. They live in a small Texas town but they live large. When I first previewed All Are Welcome, I quickly identified several culture specific norms that I was sure would be pointed out and followed-up with "why do they...". And it would have been perfect and encouraged because that's how we learn.

But when I read it aloud to my youngest monster (first grader), what I expected him to point out (i.e. the Jewish child's cap or the little girls hijab) just wasn't the case. He was more interested in what the students science experiments were and where the visually impaired child got his sunglasses because "that would have been my friend'' and are the Chinese dances like the Hawaiians?

My older monster, who is in the 4th grade, was a bit more observant and had more detailed questions.
Why was there a LGBTQ flag displayed like it was a country? 
How was the pregnant mom pregnant if she was married to another woman?
😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳

Yeah it got real, quick. This is the perfect example of when the phrase "Love is Love" just won't cut it. I honestly wasn't expecting this and it caught me off guard but it made me pause and think a minute.

Alright, I stewed on it for a week. And here were my take-away thoughts:
  1. Prejudices are truly a learned behaviors. Sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes it's not.
  2. Curiosity begins innocently and we need to be there to cultivate it. Whether you are for or against a cultural norm, you've got to be willing to talk about it. 
  3. I think the flag should not have been included and neither should the pregnant lesbian. It took away from the innocence of the message. 
  4. At the end of the day, All Are Welcome.

With that said, the book sleeve is the real gem. It unfolds into a poster that has each cultural different child represented with the phrase "All Are Welcome" at the bottom. This poster should be mass produced and sent to every single school district in the US.

Download HERE










Follow this link to download free bookmarks from the talented Suzanne Kaufman: HERE

This article originally appeared on I'd So Rather Be Reading