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Book Review: “My Mother the Cheerleader” (plus “Fire from the Rock” and “I Am Scout: the Biography of Harper Lee”)

August 6th, 2008

I wrote a little about Ruby Bridges before, if you will recall. Now comes a fictionalized account of her story in “My Mother the Cheerleader.” This young adult novel is not at all what you might expect from the title. And it’s written by a white male author in the voice of a white girl who is telling us Ruby Bridges’ story.

Yeah, it took me a second to take all that in, too.

(Here is Ms. Bridges’ website — go read her story if you don’t already know it. In 1960, she was one of the first black children who helped to integrate white schools in the Ninth Ward in New Orleans. And yes, there really was a protester — a woman — who showed up daily with a black baby doll in a small coffin.)

This is a new book, just released last year, and you should read it. (How’s that for a review? I will review all of my favorite picks that way from now on: “You should read it.”) Also, this book is appropriate for mature students, grades 8 and older, so have your kids read it, too. It is the first novel for author Robert Sharenow. I hope it’s not his last. He based the story on historical documents, including FBI records that had been previously sealed. It’s a great book, the characters are well-written, and the story is gripping and, unfortunately, still timely.

I am just starting Sharon Draper’s latest, “Fire from the Rock,” about the Little Rock Nine, and “I Am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee,” by Charles J. Shields. Both come highly recommended.

Today’s books:

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