Sunday, February 17, 2013

Storycorp Interview with Walter Dean Myers/Book Review: Darius & Twig

There are a few things we'd like to do here on the blog in honor of Black History Month. One is to feature interviews or profiles of Black writers and illustrators. We're a bit late getting started, but here is our first offering: an interview from StoryCorps with National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Walter Dean Myers, talking to his son, author and illustrator Christopher Myers, about his relationship with his own father (specifically pertaining to his father's feeling about Myers being a writer).

(l to r:Christopher Myers, Walter Dean Myers)

It's rather heartbreaking (it will literally only take you a minute to listen to--it clocks in under two) but hopefully through it we can learn something and gain a broader appreciation for Myers works. Additonally, here is a slightly longer version of the same interview with Myers on NPR.

To top it off, here is a review of Walter Dean Myers' upcoming book, Darius & Twig, out April 23, 2013 from Amistad:

Darius & Twig

Darius and Twig have been best friends since they were nine. Frustrated with the limited opportunities available to them in their Harlem neighborhood, both boys strive to forge a better future for themselves--Darius through writing and Twig through running. It isn't easy though with the problems and pressures of home, unhelpful counselors at school, and bullies that seem able to materialize wherever they turn. In addition to those challenges, Darius has his own demons to deal with. When he feels overwhelmed, he escapes by imaging himself as a falcon named Fury, cool and unfeeling, able to soar above the petty problems of Darius' world. When Twig begins to be recognized for succeeding on the track, Darius let's his friends accomplishments bolster his resolve to excel at writing, but previous choices have damaged his chances at getting a college scholarship, and determination may not be enough to save him from the problems that threaten to drag him down.

Darius & Twig offers two likeable characters who are very much not the norm and are refreshingly okay with that--though the choice to be themselves comes with a price. Darius and Twig are both remarkably thoughtful and their relationship is both touching and an example of friendship at its best. Poverty, institutionalized racism, ethnicity, family obligations, broken families, friendship, and succeeding against the odds are all themes at least touched on. It is obvious that Myers has honed his craft over decades as he is able to write beautifully and realistically about such heavy subjects without making the reader feel bogged down by them. Ages 14 & up.


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