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Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes
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Bronx Masquerade

by Nikki Grimes

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4Q 4P

For the teenagers in the project housing of section of the Bronx, there is no hope, no future, and no individuality, and everyone is forced to masquerade as something else. High school teacher Mr. Ward offers them a chance to express who they really are in a weekly poetry reading called Open Mike Friday. One by one, each student is forced to realize their own masquerade, and recognize the depth of their classmates' lives.

Beautifully written poetry and an honest look at the seemingly hopeless experience that is contemporary life in poverty-stricken New York. The fact that ethnic groups other than African Americans are represented makes this an effective book. I also liked that multiracial characters were able to read their poetry, since YA literature tends to place characters into one ethnic group without any room for diversity.

The only thing that kept this book from being 5Q 5P is that there are so many characters with non-mainstream names that they're hard to keep in track. Also, the student named Tyrone seemed to get more speaking time than anyone else, but not enough development to be the protagonist of the story. ( )
  NigeltheKid | Jun 8, 2014 |
Coretta Scott King Award YALSA's Best Books for Young Adults 2002. RGG: A combination of "fictional" memoir and poetry; "inner-city" high school students reveal themselves through poetry.
  rgruberexcel | Oct 25, 2013 |
Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes is a spectacular book that tells of a group of high school students enjoying a lesson of poetry. Each student has a certain talent and a story to tell. These students find poetry as an outlet to express themselves and reveal who they really are. Bronx Masquerade is a wonderful book about a group of high schoolers being themselves and expressing who they really are.
I would recommend this book to any teacher who is unsure of how to approach poetry with his or her students. This book really encourages students to look to poetry as a way to express oneself and also to reveal much detail of a certain event. It also is great for helping young students to feel less awkward about being themselves. This story shows a great deal of how much poetry can affect a person's life. Bronx Masquerade is perfect for any classroom.
I really enjoyed this book. Bronx Masquerade gave a great interpretation of how life is in high school. The poetry also in the book was very beautiful and made the book very diverse. This story was so eloquently put and goes above and beyond when discussing poetry and other talents found in students. Bronx Masquerade was a wonderful book that I would highly recommend to anyone.
  Emily_Maddox | Apr 15, 2013 |
Plot Summary:
"Bronx Masquerade" by Nikki Grimes captures the voice of eighteen inner city kids and shares their stories through the medium of poetry. Wesley Boone motivates his high school English class by volunteering to read his poem aloud in class. Once Wesley reads his poem, the rest of his class is eager to be given a voice as well. The class then holds an "open mic" every friday which allows different students in the class to showcase their talent by expressing their own personal struggles through poetry. One by one, eighteen students take on the risky challenge of self-revelation.

Teaching Connections:
As a future teacher, this book would be a great way to get students interested in reading poetry. Poetry is a hard subject to teach because students often have a hard time understanding it. "Bronx Masquerade" would be a perfect leeway to introduce a poetry lesson. After the students have read the book, we could hold a classroom "open mic afternoon" like they do in the story to allow students to express themselves as well.

Reader Response:
I enjoyed the book. It was an easy read and was entertaining. I liked the insight it gave into the minds of youth living in an inner city. I would suggest it to any teachers looking for a good way to introduce poetry in a "fun way" in the classroom.
  hannahmcknight | Apr 15, 2013 |
Plot summary:
Bronx Masquerade by Coretta Scott King is about a group of teenage students in Mr. Ward’s class who decided to make school fun by writing poetry. The main character convinces Mr. Ward to have poetry readings every Friday for the class. Through these poetry readings we get to see through the eyes of the students of what their lives are like. We get to hear of what these students go through on a daily basis. The students form a deep connection with one another as they open up through their writings of poetry.

Teaching Connections:
One connection I thought of while reading Bronx Masquerade is how it is similar to Freedom Writers. Like in freedom writers the students stand up and read their own writings, the students in Bronx Masquerade get to stand up and read poetry they have each written about their lives. One theme that can be taken away from this book is the theme of unity in diversity. All of the students had something different to share about their lives because they are all different. In turn, by the end of the novel all of the students become friends, or “unified” with one another because of their differences that they decided to embrace and write poetry about.

Reader Response:
I really like Bronx masquerade. It was a quick and easy short read and it had a good theme to it. Like previously stated, this book reminded of Freedom Writers because of the way the students were influenced by one another to keep writing to share about their lives and tell the class about it through some form of writing. For this book it was poetry. I liked how the book had only one main character (which was the narrator) throughout the whole book, but we also got to hear stories of the other students’ lives as well. I liked how the teacher, Mr. Ward, encouraged students to express themselves through writing poetry so the students were excited about coming to class daily and being able to participate in “open mike Fridays.” I would recommend this book to any young adult reader!
  kirbynichols | Apr 13, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0142501891, Mass Market Paperback)

Open Mike Friday is everyone's favorite day in Mr. Ward's English class. On Fridays, his 18 high-school students dare to relax long enough to let slip the poets, painters, readers, and dreamers that exist within each of them. Raul Ramirez, the self-described "next Diego Rivera," longs "to show the beauty of our people, that we are not all banditos like they show on TV, munching cuchfritos and sipping beer through chipped teeth." And while angry Tyrone Bittings finds dubious comfort in denying hope: "Life is cold. Future?...wish there was some future to talk about. I could use me some future," overweight Janelle Battle hopes to be seen for what she really is: "for I am coconut / and the heart of me / is sweeter / than you know" They are all here: the tall girl, the tough-talking rapper, the jock, the beauty queen, the teenage mom, the artist, and many more. While it may sound like another Breakfast Club rehash, Grimes uses both poetry and revealing first-person prose to give each character a distinct voice. By book's end, all the voices have blended seamlessly into a multicultural chorus laden with a message that is probably summed up best by pretty girl Tanisha Scott's comment, "I am not a skin color or a hank of wavy hair. I am a person, and if they don't get that, it's their problem, not mine." But no teen reader will have a problem with this lyrical mix of many-hued views. (Ages 12 and older) --Jennifer Hubert

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:56 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

While studying the Harlem Renaissance, students at a Bronx high school read aloud poems they've written, revealing their innermost thoughts and fears to their formerly clueless classmates.

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