Barnes, Derrick. I Am Every Good Thing. (2020). Nancy Paulsen Books. (Penguin Random House)
Summary: I “am” is the common phrase in this book from brotherly love to superhero. The astronaut, champion, and the scholar are all promised to you if that is what you put your mind to. You can slam dunk or dance to the rhythm Boom-Bap! These dreams, encounters and visions are what makes and carries you through life. What will you choose to be?
Strengths: This book promotes bravery and positivity for black males of all ages and skin tones. It clearly speaks on how there are no limits of who you can become regardless of what odds may be or look like.
Weaknesses: There are no weaknesses, however it would have been nice to have illustrations of those mentioned in the beginning to provide a seamless connection especially for emerging readers.
Thoughts: The early mentions and dedication to the those who were subjected to police brutality and wrongful death is an example of symbolism. One of the purposes of the book is to make a statement “despite” what has happened to others you can still be. This is an impactful read that can be shared repeatedly.
Coles, Jay. Tyler Johnson Was Here. (2018). Little Brown and Company (Hachette Book Group)
Summary: Tyler and Marvin Johnson are twin brothers who are different in just about every aspect of life. They are both handsome and smart. They both are very protective of each other, but one of them likes to be seen more than the other. In the case of bad attention, Tyler befriends a local high school drug dealer and quickly gets entangled in something he seemingly cannot get himself out of without suffering. Marvin on the other hand is worried sick that Tyler will end up incarcerated like their father. The thought of incarceration is surely a way to send their hardworking struggling mother into a frenzy. The lifestyle is inviting but the consequences are dangerous. Marvin learns just how low down and vicious things can get as he reluctantly attends a party at a local warehouse where he knows his brother will be. In a matter of minutes things spiral out of control and gunshots ring through the air like an unfamiliar techno beat. Through frustration, fear and panic Marvin runs through the party in search of Tyler. To no avail he cannot find him anywhere. Where is Tyler? Is he a victim of the haunting melodious music that rang through the air or is it an act of police brutality?
Strength: I am my brothers’ keeper is an understatement that is the ultimate challenge in the book. Marvin wants to be true and loyal but is also scared for his brother. Although he does not know all the details, he is no dummy to the harsh reality of street life. This storyline keeps the reader alert, engaged, and suspicious.
Weaknesses: The storyline is sad but relatable. So many youth experience parts and the whole of this story.
Thoughts: My brother is not your # (hashtag) is mentioned and speaks volume. In other words,” Why does this keep happening?”