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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this beautifully done book of poetry addresses with sensitivity an issue that pulls at the hearts of all blended families: how does each member readjust, fit in, and find a place in the new whole. As an Amistad book, this is a book written by a person of African descent on a theme that "has significance to the larger world audience."
What's the story?
As he realizes he is going to have to not only share his home, but his mother as well, Xavier is so upset that he nearly drops out of his family altogether. He goes so far as to take a totally different route to school just so he won't have to share the experience with Chris, his new stepbrother. When he witnesses Chris playing ball with his mom ... well, that takes the cake!
Is it any good?
This is not just an African-American, nor Hispanic-American experience; it is one that will strike a chord with every reader, of any age. The story is heartfelt and real, the poetry emotionally true, and the artwork expressive. In his gouche paintings that accompany each of the poems, award-winning illustrator Mike Benny captures the sincerity and complexity of each boy's feelings, and makes the reader feel just what the poetry so beautifully expresses in words.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Xavier's feelings as expressed in each of the 20 poems. How does he feel toward his new stepfather? Toward Chris? Toward his mother? What is he afraid of? How did Xavier resolve the problem? If readers are from a blended family, this will be a perfect opportunity for them to talk about their own difficulties, and how they have had to change, adapt, accept, and basically fit in to the new organization. Did they feel like Xavier? Or, maybe they were more like Chris? How have things worked out?