A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The kids on the Boys and Girls Club fencing team learn the story of Alexandre Dumas, French author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Crisco. Dumas' father, son of a Black enslaved person and a French mother, was a celebrated general in Napoleon's army. Donte's mother, a civil rights lawyer, explains the landmark U.S. legal case Brown v. Board of Education and the way legal action can be used to advance social causes.
Self-awareness is the key to success. Don't let other people distract you from your goals or from what you know is right. Find your people; they're out there somewhere. When the world is cruel, sticking together with family makes all the difference. You can redeem yourself by serving others.
Positive Role Models
A family consisting of a White father, Black mother, and two sons show supportive, loving bonds and the ability to speak candidly about society as well as their own lives. An older man redeems his youthful mistakes by serving as a mentor to young people, using sports to help them develop their identities and moral compass. Donte learns to sublimate his anger and self-pity into his pursuit of excellence and good sportsmanship.
Violence & Scariness
There are episodes of bullying and racial taunts throughout the story. The "N" word is hinted at, but not used. A White boy harasses a Black boy continually, including tripping him at a sports match causing injury to his wrist. A Black boy is hauled away from school handcuffed in a police car, despite being innocent of what the teacher accused. As the car drives away, students taunt him.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Black Brother, Black Brother, by Coretta Scott King Author Award winner Jewell Parker Rhodes (Ghost Boys), is about a dark-skinned, biracial boy (with a Black mother and a White father) who masters fencing in order to challenge the school bully to a competition. There are episodes of bullying and racial taunts throughout the story. The "N" word is hinted at, but not used. A White boy harasses a Black boy continually, including tripping him at a sports match, causing injury to his wrist. A Black boy is handcuffed and hauled away from school in a police car, despite being innocent of what the teacher accused. As the car drives away, students taunt him.
Is It Any Good?
Suspenseful and inspiring, readers will root for Donte to best his tormentor and understand that he's a winner regardless of the outcome. In Black Brother, Black Brother, author Jewell Parker Rhodes creates a story that diverse kids can relate to. There's a nerdy kid who becomes a sport star, an athlete with a sensitive side, and boys and girls who play sports together. The parents are heroic and kind. The unfair teachers get their comeuppance. Still, readers see the characters go through some challenges. Brothers Donte and Trey adjust to a move from New York City to suburban Newton, Massachusetts, and a switch from public to private school. Their biracial family confronts racism that affects their otherwise privileged life.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.