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November, 2018

A tale of greed and American consumerism

You are the strongest person you know. You can lift and carry a lot of weight and many burdens, because strength comes from within as well as from muscles. So what are you capable of doing when times get strange? Place yourself in the short stories inside “Friday Black” by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, and see. Emmanuel had grown up with a strength his parents nurtured. Comment

Author advocates for community-based farms

Your hands are filthy. Dirt lines every crease and covers much of your knuckles. It’s beneath your fingernails, all the way up to your wrists, soiling the edges of your sweatshirt and down your front. Yes, your hands are filthy but once you’ve read “Farming While Black” by Leah Penniman, your smile will be wide. Comment

October, 2018

Tina Turner tells her love story

Just wait. Two words that are impossible to hear, especially if you have big plans. Hold on, don’t veer off-course, work the plan, hard as it may be. Just wait. As in “My Love Story” by Tina Turner, good things really do come to those who do. Comment

Lorraine sings away a ‘Tennessee tempest’

The flash-flash-flash was bad enough. And then you heard the grrrrrrumble, the wind howled, and you were afraid. But it was okay: it was only a thunderstorm. As you’ll see in the new book “ Lorraine : The Girl Who Sang the Storm Away” by Ketch Secor, illustrated by Higgins Bond, when it’s over, the sun – among other things — will shine bright. Comment
St Kitts and Nevis: In a new biographical book about the life of Bertram L. Baker — the first black person to hold public office in Brooklyn — his grandson, author and Brooklyn College professor Ron Howell, chronicles the life of his late elder in “Boss of Black Brooklyn: The Life and Times of Bertram L. Baker.” Comment

Hard work grows an empire

Hard work grows an empire

Entertainment: Hard work pays off. Your parents have said that; your teachers, too. Stop messin’, start paying attention, knuckle down, do your work, and see what happens. Hard work pays off, and in the new book “No Small Potatoes” by Tonya Bolden, illustrated by Don Tate, hard work grows an empire. Comments (2)

Understanding racism in America

Entertainment: Your blood is red. You were born with the same number of bones, ears, and appendages as everybody else and your requirements are food, air, water, shelter and love. Indeed, you’re just like other humans – but as you’ll see in the new book “We Are Not Yet Equal” by Carol Anderson with Tonya Bolden, you may’ve been set apart. Comment

September, 2018

Walking changed the world

Entertainment: You can walk. That’s what Mom said when you wanted her to take you somewhere this summer. What’s wrong with your feet, she asked, are your shoes broken? So you hoofed it everywhere, and that’s what changed your summer. In the new book “So Tall Within” by Gary D. Schmidt, illustrated by Daniel Minter, walking changed the world. Comment

Barbadian slave becomes flying assistant

Entertainment: You need to get out of here. You don’t know where. You just have to go to another room, maybe, or another building, another town, across the world. You need to get out of here but, as in the new novel “ Washington Black” by Esi Edugyan, be careful, and mindful that you don’t run away from yourself. Comment

A tale of drama in John Woman’s life

Entertainment: Clothes, as they say, make the man. So do his language and demeanor – but what else? Did his parents or teachers make him who he is? Is it income, peer pressure, the movies he sees, jobs he holds, or his favorite music? Or, as in the new novel “John Woman” by Walter Mosley, is a man made purely of his actions — including murder? Comment

August, 2018

Challenges and benefits of ‘gigging’

Entertainment: Your allowance was never enough, as a kid. Oh, sure, it bought you what you needed but what you wanted, well, you had to figure that out yourself. A dime here, a dollar there, little chores-for-pay, tasks for Grandma and you made it work. And as you’ll see in the new book, “Gigged” by Sarah Kessler, some things never change. Comment

Nobel Peace Prize laureate V.S. Naipaul dead at 85

Trinidad and Tobago: V.S. Naipaul, the Trinidadian-born literary giant and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, died at his home in London on Saturday. He was 85. Comment

John Newton’s song of prayer

Entertainment: In church, you sing a lot of songs. Some are just for Sunday school, and you clap when you sing them. Others make you dance right in your seat. And some songs you sing in church are very old and have a quiet, hidden meaning. In “How Sweet the Sound” by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Frank Morrison, you’ll learn about one song that feels a lot like a prayer. Comment

July, 2018

Churchy scandals you need

Entertainment: Life has handed you a lot of chances. You’ve taken some, for good or not. Others, you’ve passed up, and regretted it. Maybe you’d be richer today. Maybe you’d be poorer. For sure, you’d have an existence unlike what you have now and, as in the new novel “Better Late Than Never” by Kimberla Lawson Roby, you wonder what might’ve been… First Lady Charlotte Black was tired. Comment
Arts & Theater: Dozens of kids got to learn about the master of puppeteering at a puppet workshop in the Bronx on July 26. The students, who are part of the “From One hand to Another” summer camp — founded by singer Pharrell Williams, were thrilled to learn an artform many are not familiar with, said the creator and organizer of the event. Comment

Many ways to cope with change

Entertainment: “Handle with Care.” That’s what it said on the side of the box. Don’t shake it, don’t bump it, and whatever you do, don’t drop it. What’s inside there is important enough for careful lifting but, as you’ll see in the new book, “Mabel and Sam at Home” by Linda Urban, illustrated by Hadley Hooper, the box itself isn’t just a box. Comment

Blueprint for those concerned about race

Entertainment: “We have to talk.” It’s never good when someone tells you that. Even if it’s said with a smile and a pat on the back, you can feel doom in those words. “We have to talk” never helps anyone except when, as in “What Truth Sounds Like” by Michael Eric Dyson, it does. Comment

Bahamian author promotes country’s literature

Bahamas: In celebration of Bahamas’ 45th year of independence, a Bahamian-American publishing house has released three books celebrating the nation’s culture and history. Brooklyn-born Bahamian author Wendy Coakley-Thompson, is on a mission to revive and restore her country’s literary scene. She founded the publishing company Duho Books, to introduce texts that highlight not only the beauty of Bahamas, but its people and their experiences and traditions — because many stories were not being told. Comment

June, 2018

Entertainment: Oh, the things you’ve heard! You’ve been told statements that aren’t true, and that made you sad. Myths kept you from your full potential. Tall tales were told to provoke you. And with the new book “I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness” by Austin Channing Brown, well, sit down. You’re about to get an eyeful. Comment

New Caribbean children’s book series

Entertainment: Introducing the Caribbean Junie B. Jones. A new book series highlighting childhood in the Caribbean, from the perspective of a young protagonist is aiming to introduce a genre of children’s books for youth of Caribbean descent. “The Adventures of Wyetta,” follows Wyetta — a young and curious St. Lucian school girl with a penchant for mischief. Brooklyn-based author Claudette Charles says the series aims to be the representation severely lacking in modern literature for Caribbean youth. In an effort to locate books about her country to educate her children, she was exposed to a huge absence in Caribbean literature. Comment

Oprah’s BFF writes: The best advice could be self advice

Entertainment: Listen up. Pay attention. Eyes forward, ears open. You’ve heard those things before in your life, and now you say them to yourself, your kids, and your employees. But do they hear what you say now… or, as in the new book “Note to Self,” collected and introduced by Gayle King, will your words ring back in the future? Comment

Author gets intimate: Acclaimed Haitian-American writer talks hot-button topics at P’Heights library

Haiti: A celebrated Haitian-American author will discuss how such polarizing issues as immigration and terrorism influence her craft during a free lecture at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Central branch on Sunday. Comment
Trinidad and Tobago: A Queens-based illustrator and author celebrates Caribbean folklore and Trinidadian carnival in his children’s book, “The Carnival Prince.” In the book, creator Daniel O’Brien highlights the mythical entities and traditional stories he heard growing up, all through the perspective of a young protagonist on an adventure. He also to wanted to revisit all the tales he knew, and repurpose them into a digestible content. Comment

Fun time with a Tooth Fairy

Fun time with a Tooth Fairy

Entertainment: The joke’s from you! That’s because you’re a pretty funny kid. You’re always being silly, pranking friends, goofing around, and joking to make people laugh – although sometimes, you have to admit that things get out of hand. In “How to Trick the Tooth Fairy” by Erin Danielle Russell, illustrated by Jennifer Hansen Rolli, they also get out of, um, mouth. Comment

May, 2018

Learn to do no harm

Entertainment: You sat down to check your email. And there you were an hour later, still logged on. Your email was checked but then you watched a newsfeed, four kitten videos, posted three opinions, RSVP’d to two grad parties, and wasted 60 minutes. And judging by the new book “Well, That Escalated Quickly” by Franchesca Ramsey, you got off easy. Comment

‘The Sun Does Shine’ for black convict

Entertainment: You always keep your eyes on the prize. You’ve given yourself no other options and your steadfastness is your compass. What you believe will happen. What you know is truth. Say it enough, and everybody else will know, too — especially when, as in the new book “The Sun Does Shine” by Anthony Ray Hinton with Lara Love Hardin, the truth is one of innocence. Comment

Life meets literature in an odd way

Entertainment: So what do you think? For sure, you’ve got opinions. You know what you like and what you don’t like. You have ideas and choices, attractions, and things you’d just as soon avoid. And sometimes, as in “Heads of the Colored People” by Nafissa Thompson-Spires, you just don’t know what to think. Comment

April, 2018

Living in a fantasy world can be dangerous

Entertainment: You love wearing your daddy’s shoes. You wear mommy’s shoes, too. You love that clomping around, the wiggly-wobbly feel, and the fun of pretending that you’re someone else. Dressing up is great but be careful. As in the new book, “Harriet Gets Carried Away by Jessie Sima, things could quickly get out of hand. Comment

East Flatbush library to host kids storytime in Haitian Creole

Brooklyn: The Brooklyn Public Library’s East Flatbush branch will be hosting its weekend storytime event in Haitian Creole on April 28. Every weekend the library offers a story time session for children and their families, but this time around the reading will be in creole. Comments (1)

Havana nights

Manhattan: Cuban novelist Leonardo Padura will be talking about his books at the PEN World Voices Festival at Nuyorican Poets Cafe on April 20. The famous writer will be joined by author Mark Kurlansky, who recently wrote a book about the city of Havana in literature. The pair will discuss the city, its history, and Padura’s representation of it in his novels, according to Padura. Comment

Tales of inspiration and amazement

Entertainment: Apples, bananas, cherries, and oranges. Tasty things, available from an appropriate tree, perhaps even one in your back yard. But what’s the story about them? Who was the first brave soul to take a chance and take a bite? In the new book “Strange Fruit Volume II” by Joel Christian Gill, you’ll see that some histories remain hidden on the vine. Comment

Haitian novelist Edwidge Danticat to discuss immigrant artists

Manhattan: Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danticat will be speaking at a discussion with Paul Holdengraber at the New York Public Library in Midtown on April 6. Together the pair will be talking about the role of immigrant artists, the art they make, and their experiences. The award-winning author is going to explore her own work, and the work of other artists and writers who are immigrants. Comment

Old wounds reopen in new book on MLK Jr.

Entertainment: One minute. That’s all it can take to change history. Sixty seconds, as long as an average TV commercial or two, a few blinks of your eyes and nothing is ever the same. And things can keep changing, as you’ll see in the new book “The Heavens Might Crack” by Jason Sokol. Comment

March, 2018

Teenager & senior offer ‘A Reason For Living’

Jamaica: Julian Jingles was a teenager living in Kingston, Jamaica during the 1960s when he started writing a book he eventually titled “A Reason For Living.” Comment

‘Get woke’ and make a change

Entertainment: I don’t like that! How many times a day do you say those words? Surely, you’ve been saying them all your life, about food, time-outs, bedtime, homework, curfews, clothes, and a hundred other things. So you don’t like that. Read “Marley Dias Gets It Done and So Can You!” by Marley Dias… and do something about it! Comment
Jamaica: Help yourself by knowing yourself! In a new self-help book by educator and debut author Nicole McLaren Campbell — wife of Jamaican artist Jeffrey “Agent Sasco” Campbell — she challenges readers to finding their true purpose in life with some self-examination. Her book titled “Make it Count,” calls on readers to headstart on a life toward their dreams without the many obstacles preventing them. She says if someone is stalling on a goal and overthinking its completion, her guide aims to help in deciding the next step. Comment

Getting to know your identity

Entertainment: Who are you? Spoken or unspoken, serious or in jest, you get asked that question all the time. Where are you from? Who are your parents? Have you been here before, and what do you do? In “All The Women in My Family Sing,” edited by Deborah Santana, the questions stand: who are you and what is your story? Comment

Beach read

Entertainment: The book is a sail down memory lane. A Pulitzer-winning author and former Brooklynite will launch his first children’s book at the Brooklyn Public Library in Prospect Heights on March 13. Junot Diaz said that his picture book “Islandborn,” about a young girl who must rely on her family’s memories of the island where she was born, was inspired by his own family’s journey from the Dominican Republic to the United States. Comment

A romance with a twist

Entertainment: He did it on one knee. One knee, with a nervous grin on his face and a velvet box in his shaking hands, asking you the Question of a Lifetime. You’d talked about this day but it was still a surprise and now you have planning to do, just the two of you. Or, as in “An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones, three… Comment

February, 2018

Words can put you down or light a fire

Entertainment: Read this. And that. Read what’s next to it, what’s above it, and the next page. Read it, because words soar. Read it because you can. As you’ll see in “Black Ink,” edited by Stephanie Stokes Oliver, it wasn’t always so. Comments (1)

January, 2018

It’s not all black and white

Entertainment: It’s all there in front of you. Plain as day. Plain as the nose on your face with nothing left to tell, it’s all in black and white — or is it? When it comes to racism, says author Ijeoma Oluo, it’s complicated and in her new book “So You Want to Talk about Race,” there may be shades of gray. Comment

Book Review: ‘Aging Thoughtfully: Conversations about Retirement Romance, Wrinkles and Regret.’

People: Martha C. Nussbaum and Saul Levmore have written a tome that delves into different ways of looking at life after retirement, about the onset of wrinkles, and other aspects of what some call the golden years. Comment

Frederick Douglass’ story too important to miss

Entertainment: You’re not backing down. There’s a line in the sand and nobody’s crossing it on your watch. When something isn’t right and you can fix it, you’re going to defend it, too, even if it costs you. As you’ll see in “Facing Frederick ” by Tonya Bolden, if you lived in the mid-1800s, you’d be in good company. Comment

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