Monday, March 5, 2007

Slave Dancer

I had such high hopes for this book. I chose it because I really enjoyed Paula Fox's story "Maurice's Room" about a boy who collects odd things in his room and drives his parents crazy. But I'm in turns bored and uncomfortable with Slave Dancer.

So far, this is about a boy who is kidnapped from nineteenth-century New Orleans and brought aboard a ship that trades in enslaved Africans. It's taken about half the book to get to the African coast, but I can't say that anything has happened yet. I'm not going to finish the book, but in light of the outcry over just one word in the Newberry's latest winner, the book still might be worth discussing because of some of its language.

I was glad to read that Sandy D. had a chance to talk with her son about racism while reading Holes. What do others think about books that use racist terms? It seems very remote when they appear in winners from the 1920s, but the 1970s doesn't feel that long ago. Does it matter which characters use the terms?

Regardless, there are enough books I have enjoyed that afford the opportunity to discuss racism that I don't think I'll be reading Slave Dancer any time soon. I am now reading Gay Neck: The Story of a Pigeon. I've been reading a lot of Mo Willems with my son, so it's a logical book for me to read next.

1 comment:

Lola and Ava said...

I'll preface this by saying that I have never read Slave Dancer, but I teach a Newbery project every year so many of my students have. The only thing that they mention about this book is that it is dull. They have never mentioned the racism in the book. Could it be that it is historicial fiction and the author was trying to be more "true" to the time? I do know that one or two have read Gay Neck but cannot remember their reviews so it must have been okay.