BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

145th Street: Short Stories by Walter Dean Myers [in School Library Journal]

This 20th-anniversary edition features a 10-reader cast performing the original 10 stories, with additional “Bonus Content” that includes a dozen “Tributes” by literary luminaries, including Christopher Myers, Lois Lowry, and Jason Reynolds, extolling the late, great Walter Dean Myers’s enduring legacy to diverse children’s literature. Myers’s interlinked stories capture everyday lives of Harlem residents, made immediately resonant by notable narrators.

Sullivan Jones reads “Big Joe’s Funeral,” in which Big Joe conducts his funeral before his death, and “A Story in Three Parts,” about a great-grandmother’s sobering history lesson shared with her addict descendant. Heather Alicia Simms reads “Block Party – 145th Street Style,” adding to Big Joe’s story from the perspective of his stepdaughter-to-be’s BFF. Adenrele Ojo narrates “Kitty and Mack,” an aching celebration of first love in crisis. Bahni Turpin reads “A Christmas Story,” which links a hesitant policeman with Harlem doyenne Mother Fletcher. Brandon Gill, Almarie Guerra, Johnny Heller, Dominic Hoffman, and Paula Parker affectingly read the rest.

The concluding who-read-what reveal (although JaQwan J. Kelly remains mysteriously uncredited; process of elimination shows he’s the energetic voice of “The Streak” and “Monkeyman”) is a rare gift for curious listeners. A gift for groupies and newbies alike.

Review: “Audio,” School Library Journal, July 1, 2020

Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult

Published: 2000, 2020 (20th anniversary edition)


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