Thursday, February 18, 2010

Book Connections: Mare's War and Twice Towards Justice

This entry started out as a blog about Mare's War, a recent King Author Honor book. As I was writing, I realized my comments were connected to Claudette Colvin, the young African American woman who refused to give up her bus seat, nine months before Rosa Parks' dramatic statement. Since Claudette's story has recently received several honors, you will get two books wrapped into one blog.

Mare's War will appeal to several audiences: teenage girls who will identify with Octavia and Tali who are dragged on a road trip with their 80-year-old grandmother, Mare; African Americans who will appreciate the example of a strong female character in the Army during WWII; and teachers in 6th-9th grade who can use this book as a supplement to African American studies.

I liked it because of how the author, Tanita Davis, wove history and character education lessons into Mare’s interaction with her granddaughters, simultaneously teaching that young people can learn a lot from their grandparents' histories. In this excerpt she has just explained to Octavia that Claudette Colvin was her same age (15) when she refused to give up her seat on the bus:

"The people who dragged her kicking and screaming off of that bus certainly were what you could call white supremacists," Mare continues. "She had to have known that something was going to happen if she kept sitting where she wasn't wanted. But she stayed seated," Mare goes on, flicking a glance over her left shoulder and smoothly changing lanes. "Sometimes you just have to to act on the strength of your convictions, no matter what someone else might think." (p.88)

Mare's War flip-flops from the threesome's present day adventures as they drive from California to Alabama, their destination for an alleged family reunion. Although the girls begin the trip bored and complaining, they (and the reader) are quickly engrossed in their grandmother's stories. The girls learn of Mare's struggles with her loyalty to protect her younger sister, her desire to leave her small town existence and create a life of her own, and her longing to win her mother's approval--at the same time that she handles prejudices directed against blacks.

Fast forward about ten years, and you'll come to Claudette Colvin's story, recounted in Twice Toward Justice the recent winner of the National Book award and a Newbery Honor award. Click here for a great review of the book (click on the February 2010 issue). My fellow Talking Story author, Joyce Hostetter, has posted several blogs about the book including a video of the National Book Awards ceremony. Here is a very cool trailer of the book:

Two great books for adults and students alike.

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Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

That's so cool that Mare talks about Claudette Colvin.

Carol Baldwin said...

I thought so too!

tanita✿davis said...

...hey, thanks for the shout-out on my book! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. It is a funny coincidence that Claudette Colvin is mentioned in the book - I got to see her at the ALA Annual Convention where both of our books were honored at the Coretta Scott King breakfast!!

Carol Baldwin said...

Tanita, You are quite welcome and I'm glad you found my blog!Yes, lots of coincidences here! ANd both of you deserved to be honored. Glad to see it happen!

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