Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Patina (Track #2), by Jason Reynolds --

Last year, Berkeley students chose Jason Reynolds' Ghost as the best new book of the year in our Mock Newbery program. They loved how Ghost struggled to make good choices and find his own way, and how quickly they were drawn into his world. Today, Reynolds publishes Patina, the second in his Track series, looking at the story of Patina (Patty) Jones, the new girl on the Defenders racing team.

I cannot wait to share Patina's story with kids. Reynolds' writing explodes during race scenes. And Patty's character is richly drawn. She carries such a load, so much responsibility, taking care of her little sister, caring for her mom, navigating a school scene that isn't comfortable or rooted in her own culture. She's vulnerable and strong at the same time.
Patina (Track #2)
by Jason Reynolds
Atheneum / Simon & Schuster, 2017
Amazon / Your local library
ages 9-14
*best new book*
Patty cannot stand losing. In the opening chapter, she's fuming that she has come in 2nd place in the Defenders' most recent race. Seeing Patty pull away and fume inside, Coach assigns her to the 4x800 relay team. Instead of just focusing on herself, Patty must figure out how to partner with three other girls, literally running in step with them.

Meanwhile, Patty has to juggle being responsible for her little sister, feeling out of place at her private school, and taking care of her mom who’s “got the sugar” (diabetes). Like Ghost, Patty must deal with a heavy load. She has lost so much in her life and tries to handle everything by herself. She deserves to just be a kid, but she has to shoulder so much responsibility.

Reynolds creates a strong, compelling cast of characters, authentically capturing a young girl's voice. While this novel does not have the same tension or suspense as Ghost, I loved the track and teamwork elements of this story, as the teammates learned to be in step with one another.

In the United States, it's been a tumultuous August, with the violent conflict in Charlottesville and a pounding hurricane in Texas. This weekend, Berkeley and San Francisco were the site of further protests. In the midst of this turmoil, I wonder about the impact on our children and how we can best respond.

We need to recognize the impact of trauma; however, I also feel strongly one of the best things we can do is to keep operating with a focus on love, compassion and respect. Our libraries and books can provide a refuge, a safe place during chaotic times--a chance for our students to regroup, reflect, and find sustenance.

Sharing books like Patina help kids see that they are not alone. I am deeply appreciative of all the work that teachers, librarians and parents do to create a safe space for our children. And I am especially grateful to Jason Reynolds for sharing Patina's story with us.

The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Simon & Schuster. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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