Awards for Bronx Masquerade?

Open Mic Night

Snap, snap, snap… Snaps for Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes! The entire time I was reading this book (which was only a few hours) I imagined I was sipping a hazelnut cappuccino in a dimly lit, swanky cafe on open mic, slam poetry night.  Mr. Ward assigns his high school class to write an essay about their studies on the Harlem Renaissance, but one student thinks a poem is more befitting. After Mr. Ward has Wesley perform his poem in front of the class the rest of the students seem to appreciate his creativity and so does Mr. Ward. Now, one Friday a month has to be dedicated to the class for an open mic session where several students willingly put their stories out there in a rhythm and rhyme that cannot go unnoticed. Soon, every Friday is slam poetry day and even students outside of Mr. Ward’s class are intrigued to join.

During the kids’ confessions many of them come to a new understanding of themselves and of their classmates. Maybe we aren’t all so different… Maybe I do have someone to talk to… Maybe everything will be okay… The stereotyped boxes the students were categorized into for so long are recycled and they all just become friends.

This is a terrific book for students that I would recommend to any teacher to assign. It’s easy to follow, interesting, and addresses issues of stereotypes, bullying, abuse, and finding oneself.

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