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Last class, works in verse | Class #6, 2018

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson Adolescent novels in verse have steadily increased in popularity since Virginia Euwer Wolff’s groundbreaking Make Lemonade was published in 1993. The best of these marry form and subject in a way that enriches both. Jacqueline Woodson’s eloquent free-verse memoir traces her family history and the earliest development of a […]

Graphic-novel biographies and memoirs

Chandler, Matt  Outrunning the Nazis: The Brave Escape of Resistance Fighter Sven Somme Illustrated by Daniele Nicotra. Gr. 4–6, middle school     32 pp.     Capstone/Graphic Library Yomtov, Nel  Death Camp Uprising: The Escape from Sobibor Concentration Camp Illustrated by Wilson Tortosa. Gr. 4–6, middle school     32 pp.     Capstone/Graphic Library Great Escapes of World War II series. […]

Life under siege

Growing up amidst political turmoil and war can have profound effects on any individual. These memoirs and biographies offer nuanced explorations of lives in such uncertain places and times. In How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child, Congolese refugee Sandra Uwiringiyimana recounts life before, during, and after war. Growing up in the […]

Review of Taking Hold: From Migrant Childhood 
to Columbia University

Taking Hold: From Migrant Childhood 
to Columbia University by Francisco Jiménez Middle School, High School    Houghton    200 pp. 4/15    978-0-547-63230-8    $16.99    g In the fourth volume of his memoir series (The Circuit, rev. 11/00; Breaking Through, rev. 11/01; Reaching Out, 2008), Jiménez delivers a moving account of his graduate school years at Columbia University during […]

Review of Balcony on the Moon: Coming of Age in Palestine

Balcony on the Moon: Coming of Age in Palestine by Ibtisam Barakat Middle School, High School    Ferguson/Farrar    223 pp. 10/16    978-0-374-30251-1    $17.99    g In this follow-up to her first memoir (Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood), and beginning where that book left off, Barakat leads readers through her adolescent years in the West Bank during […]

Review of A Year Without Mom

A Year Without Mom by Dasha Tolstikova; 
illus. by the author Middle School   Groundwood   168 pp. 10/15   978-1-55498-692-7   $19.95 e-book ed. 978-155498-693-4   $16.95 Tolstikova’s illustrated memoir recounts the time when her mother relocated to America for graduate school and she, twelve years old, was left in the care of her grandparents in Moscow. Through present-tense […]

Review of The Inker’s Shadow

The Inker’s Shadow by Allen Say; illus. by the author Intermediate, Middle School, High School   
Scholastic   80 pp. 10/15   
978-0-545-43776-9   $19.99   g This “patchwork of memories” (“and memories are unreliable, so I am calling this a work of fiction made of real people and places I knew”) sequel to Drawing from Memory (rev. 9/11) takes […]

Review of The Trouble in Me

The Trouble in Me by Jack Gantos Middle School, High School   Farrar   208 pp. 9/15   978-0-374-37995-7   $17.99   g By the summer before eighth grade, young Jack Gantos didn’t think much of himself. He had the “milky physique of a very soft boy” and looked like a “boneless squid.” His “mouth bully” of a father called […]

Five questions for Sonia Manzano

Sonia Manzano’s forty-four-year run as Sesame Street‘s Maria recently came to a close, but that doesn’t mean she’s taking it easy. Her newest book, Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx (Scholastic, 14 years and up), is a memoir in which Manzano recounts her rough childhood and adolescence, ending just as she auditions […]

This is my life

Memoirs capture moments in time, those events that are formative or emblematic or otherwise meaningful for their subjects. Surprising, intimate, cathartic — Brown Girl Dreaming, El Deafo, Becoming Maria (see Randy Ribay’s interview with Sonia Manzano), the new books below, and these recommended by The Horn Book Guide, for example — memoirs offer glimpses into […]