Ride Wit’ Me
Katina King
ISBN 0-9724003-8-9
Young Diamond Books, 2006
Grade 9 and up
Urban Fiction

Mercedes’ father forbids her from seeing Dalvin. Why are the two being forced apart? What lengths will the teens go to to be together?

Summary:

In this modern day, ghetto, Romeo and Juliet, Mercedes and Dalvin find themselves in a doomed relationship. The children of two prominent Chicago crime families, their romance is forbidden by Mercedes’ father. Dalvin’s family is the enemy in his eyes. Mercedes lives a life of wealth and privilege, unaware of her father’s true profession. Mercedes’ father is a major gangster, controlling half of Chicago’s streets. Dalvin and his father control the rest. An old fued drives Mercedes’ father to forbid her relationship with Dalvin. He goes so far as too bring his crew into Dalvin’s parents’ home, threatening them with guns. The whole thing nearly ends in a shootout, luckily Mercedes gives in to her father and agrees to stop seeing Dalvin. Although she doesn’t like the decision, it is preferable to having everyone she cares about killed. Mercedes starts seeing Jacon, who her parents love. Everyone gets a lesson about judging people when Jacob attempts to rape Mercedes. Dalvin discovers the two and saves Mercedes. The tension between families is resolved when Jacob’s true nature comes to light. Dalvin and Mercedes plan to get married with their parents’ blessing.

Critique:

Although this wasn’t my favorite selection, I really enjoyed the story. This is an accessible story and there are lots of elements for teens to identify with. The writing is not perfect, Ride Wit’ Me has a number of spelling and grammatical errors. But this is an engrossing and fast read that will get teens reading and show the importance of sticking with your beliefs.

Controversy:

Language, descriptions of oral sex and intercourse, glorification of illegal activities

Ride Wit’ Me and all of its trappings are representative of the genre. Point the book’s popularity with students, encourage parents and other challenger to engage readers in discussions about the pros and cons of Mercedes and Dalvin’s lifestyle.

Curriculum Ties:

Compare and contrast with other tales of star crossed lovers such as Romeo and Juliet.

Selection Rationale:

This is a book written for teens that is much more in the vein of traditional urban fiction than most of my other selections; it is sexy, gritty, explicit, glorifies wealth, and a life of crime. It is fabulous. This will book attract readers.

“Following in the footsteps of books like Sister Souljah’s The Coldest Winter Ever (S & S, 1999), this title is a much lighter account of street life… A fast read, the story might appeal to fans of Deja King’s adult books, and is a good addition to libraries looking for more urban popular fiction without the raw street language that goes with so much of it.” – School Library Journal

Booktalking:

Read aloud the section on mo’ money, mo’ problems. Pages 1-2, up to “But, baby girl, you’re worth it.”

Write a monologue from the perspective of Dalvin about his life.

About the Author:

I believe Katina King is a pen name of author Joy King, co-owner of Young Diamond Books, who writes urban fiction for adults under the pen name Deja King. Young Diamond is a new publishing company specializing in street lit for young adults, Ride Wit’ Me is their first publication.

Additional Information:

Katina King intends Ride Wit’ Me to be the first book in a series.

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After Tupac and D Foster
Jacqueline Woodson
ISBN 978-0-399-24654-8
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2008
Grade 6 and up
Urban Fiction
Brought together by Tupac and double dutch, three young girls in Queens try to discover their Big Purpose.
Summary:

D Foster discovers Neeka and the unnamed narrator one afternoon while they jump rope on the block in Queens. Narrator and Neeka have been friends forever. D Foster, a girl of mystery, quickly insinuates herself in the two other girls’ friendship. This is not a fast paced story, in the 150 short pages of the book, the girls essentially start growing up and embarking on personal discovery. Although the three girls are all eleven when the book begins, there are differences that make for meaningful interactions. Neeka and the narrator come from relatively stable homes, while D Foster is is in foster care (her mother is a drug addict). The girls meet while Tupac is still alive, and they are motivated and moved by his music. As the girls grow they become closer, but they also discover there is much they don’t know about eachother. Tupac forms a central theme in After Tupac and D Foster; he is a symbol of their lives, they identify with his music and his past. Tupac’s shooting is a sign of the pain in their lives. When D Foster’s mother re-enters the picture, D Foster slips out of Neeka and the narrator’s lives as quickly as she came.

Critique:

This is practically a period piece. Woodson effortlessly evokes the sounds, sights, and news of the 90’s. The development of D Foster,¬† Neeka, and our narrator are interesting studies in girlhood. Woodson addresses a slew of tough issues in this slim book, but it never feels forced or unnatural.

Curriculum Ties:

None.

Controversy:

Drug use, homosexuality, incarceration, violence.

Have challenger read the book, these  issues are dealt with in an age appropriate and tasteful manner. Point out positive reviews and awards earned by this book and the author.

Selection Rationale:

This is an award-winning book that I think will appeal to a wide age group.

ALSC Notable Children’s Book, 2009

Newbery Honor Book

“Walkmans and bootleg tapes solidify the setting of the previous decade, bringing added authenticity to Woodson’s satisfying tale of childhood friendship.” – Kirkus

“There are so many positive aspects to this work including the portrayal of loving, stable African-American families. One of the troubling points is the adoration the girls have for Tupac. Having said this, I still think that the strong portrayal of family and friends makes this a thought provoking and exalting read.” – Library Media Connection

Booktalking:

Read the lyrics to one of the Tupac songs D Foster loves.

About the Author:

Jacqueline Woodson, born in 1963, has written nine books for young adults and many others for children. Her young adult novel Miracle’s Boys was adapted into a TV miniseries. Woodson has won many awards including the Caldecott Medal, the Margaret A. Edwards Award, the Newbery Honor Medal, the Coretta Scott King Award, and the National Book Award.