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The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that It's Trevor Noah: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood is an adaptation for younger readers of comedian and Daily Show host Noah's 2016 memoir Born a Crime. Noah grew up as the ultimate outsider: the son of a black South African mother and a white European father, at a time when laws under Apartheid made it illegal for mixed-race couples to marry or have children. The book explores gender roles, and the relationships between different factions within the black community, as well as between blacks and whites and "colored" (mixed race) people. There are incidents of disturbing violence against Trevor and his mother, who's beaten and shot by his stepfather. The publisher's epilogue on the history of Apartheid mentions the Sharpeville Massacre, when white police opened fire on a crowd of unarmed black protesters, killing dozens of people. Noah, who was a mischievous kid, makes a distinction between the corporal punishment he receives from his devoted mother and the callous violence of his stepfather. Abel, the stepfather, is frequently drunk and has a history of marijuana use. Trevor describes the petty crimes he committed as a young adult, as well: He and his friends were loan sharks and music pirates before Trevor began his career as a comedian and television host. Fans of Noah's stand-up comedy or The Daily Show will find plenty of his trademark sharpness and self-effacing humor even as he relates memories of suffering poverty and abuse.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
IT'S TREVOR NOAH: BORN A CRIME: STORIES FROM A SOUTH AFRICAN CHILDHOOD is the adaptation for young readers of comedian Trevor Noah's 2016 memoir Born a Crime. Noah describes growing up as an outsider because he's of mixed race, born at a time when marriage or relations between blacks and whites was illegal in South Africa. Noah was a mischievous kid, and his antics are entertaining, even as his life and observations reveal so much that was wrong in his world of poverty, racism, injustice, and abuse. Noah regales readers with stories of youthful misadventures, from playing with matches to bad first dates to petty crimes, sometimes with amusing results and occasionally with disastrous ones. Through his own experience, Noah gives readers a look at family life, education, gender roles, and religion in 1980s and '90s South Africa.
Is it any good?
Trevor Noah's adapted memoir is the best kind of kids' nonfiction: His misadventures are highly relatable and engaging, even when things go horribly wrong. Readers will come away with deeper knowledge about what Apartheid was, and the social ramifications of racism, sexism, and poverty. It's Trevor Noah: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood entertains while it teaches readers essential historical lessons, leading them to consider social issues thoughtfully. Information is presented effectively for young readers through Noah's personal experience and observations, and through the publisher's epilogue on the history of Apartheid. This is not an easy book, but it's easy to appreciate.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Trevor Noah's life changed during and after Apartheid. Did much change for him? Why or why not?
Trevor feels like an outsider most of the time. Why is this? Have you ever felt like an outsider? What was the situation?
Why do you think Trevor starts the book with his story about being thrown from the minibus? If you were going to write your life story, what would come first?
- Author: Trevor Noah
- Genre: Autobiography
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, High School, History, Middle School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Non-Fiction
- Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: April 9, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 17
- Number of pages: 304
- Available on: Paperback, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: November 30, 2020
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