Young Adult Lit/Crit

March 11, 2008

Another great Woodson title: After Tupac & D Foster

Filed under: Uncategorized — scrollman @ 1:43 pm

For those of you who enjoyed reading Feathers, Jacqueline Woodson’s latest book, After Tupac & D Foster is another great title concerning both struggle and hope in the African American community.  The book is about three girls coming of age during the mid-90’s, when Tupac both reached the height of his popularity and was tragically shot to death.   The music and lyrics of Tupac serve as a kind of metaphorical backdrop to the events of the story as they unfold.  Without giving too much away, the story centers around a ‘new’ girl in the neighborhood, D (Desiree) Foster, who ends up being a type of mentor to the narrator and her best friend, Neeka.  D has lived a pretty harsh life, and although the other two girls look up to her, she looks to them for comfort and connection.    As the girls go through their collective share of problems and struggles, they are able to find solace in one another, and the music of Tupac.  

Although I didn’t enjoy this book as much as Feathers, I think that students might, especially those interested in Tupac.  If I were using this title in my class (which I might), I would definitely include Tupac’s lyrics as part of the text set, as well as The Rose That Grew From Concrete, a beautiful and articulate collection of Tupac’s poems, which I have used in the past, and which students have loved. 

Jonathan

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4 Comments »

  1. Jonathan,

    I bought this book last month after we read FEATHERS. I’m glad you included a little about it here- because I didn’t read it yet. However, I think what you said about how students would be interested just because of Tupac was dead on; that’s the whole reason I picked the book up! There’s really amazing hip-hop out there; I’m glad you said you would include lyrics along with book discussion. Tupac was an amazing lyricist. Do you have a copy of THE ROSE? I’d love to borrow it.

    Joyce

    Comment by joycehansen — March 12, 2008 @ 6:11 pm

  2. The Rose that Grew from Concrete has always been well-received by my students. Here’s a link to that poem.

    I also used the lyrics to “Changes” by Tupac.
    One of the things they found they needed to investigate was the “Huey” Tupac mentions.

    I wonder now what students would make of these lyrics from “Changes,” first released 10 years ago: “And although it seems heaven sent/
    We ain’t ready, to see a black President.” At the time, my 8th-graders in Brooklyn responded by saying, “But Bill Clinton was the first black president.” I’d love to hear your thoughts on that – but perhaps we’re getting a little too political.

    A Kanye West song that refers to Emmett Till and comments by Bill Cosby also led us to learn more about Till, his death and its impact on the Civil Rights Movement.

    I guess my point in sharing this is the importance meeting your students where they are. For example, you’re not a fan of Kanye but he’s a familiar text for your students. Let him lead them to Emmett Till.

    Does any one else have examples of “meeting your students where they are”?

    -Sarah

    Comment by sostrom — March 12, 2008 @ 10:26 pm

  3. Bob Dylan also has a song about Emmett Till. It would be interesting to compare the two.

    Joyce, my copy of “The Rose that grew from Concrete” was stolen last year and I have not replaced it yet. In fact, all my books on Tupac, or rap/hip hop, seem to get stolen sooner or later. The implications of this are quite complicated.

    Jonathan

    Comment by scrollman — March 13, 2008 @ 7:16 am

  4. Jon, thanks for posting on the new Woodson novel. I don’t think we can be “too political” on this blog. Everything we do–or don’t do–in schools is a result of political constructs, power and influence. Whose power and influence and the implications of the answers we find when we investigate those constructs are the essential questions/understandings that inform our helping students develop critical literacy (ies).

    Tupac’s life and lyrics are perfect vehicles for this work. And the Woodson novel sounds like a nice way in. Now you’ve got me wanting to know “The Rose that Grew from Concrete.” I find it interesting that Amazon posts 176 reviews of this collection of poetry and 18 of a collection of Robt. Frost’s poetry! KES

    Comment by sunyprof — March 13, 2008 @ 8:01 am


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