Amos Fortune

Friday Fiction: Amos Fortune: Free Man

Amos Fortune: Free Man
Yates
1951

Submitter: Somehow this book from 1951 was still on the shelf, maybe because of that shiny Newbery sticker on the cover. Or maybe it just got overlooked. Either way, a story of a slave written in the 50s is likely going to be questionable today, and I would say this one is. Descriptions comparing Black characters to dogs and untamed animals are jarring. The idea that Africans needed to be civilized before they could handle freedom seems to be presented not as something that many people wrongly believed at the time but as actually being true. At one point it is spoken directly from the still-enslaved main character himself. With some guidance and discussion, this book could be instructive of assorted historical and current trends in racist thought and language, but the public library kids biography section isn’t the place for that.

Holly: No, it isn’t. Just because a book is an award winner does not mean it should be kept forever. Either put it in a special Newbery reference collection or weed it.

Mary: This was pretty much the only slavery discussion that was around when I was a child in the 1960s. I remember liking the story. However, it was written in the 1950s for a white audience and of course it sanitized the evil of slavery for said audience. Although Amos Fortune was based on a real person, it really is a biographical novel. I think this article can give people more to chew on if they are second guessing weeding a Newbery.

dr anne cover

Friday Fiction: Next Patient, Doctor Anne

Next Patient, Dr Anne
Gilzean
Original publication: 1959

For today’s #FridayFiction, I am indulging in my love of nurse romance with this oldie, but goodie. Dr Anne is somewhat unusual for the nurse romance genre, since this woman decides to be a DOCTOR! Best of all, she actually becomes a doctor. Anne fails her entrance exam, while boyfriend Jonathon heads off to medical school without her. She spends the next year working and studying and then finally is accepted. Jonathon, is already there and is evidently not the same guy she knew when she was planning her life. There are a few hints that he isn’t the one from the get go. However, fellow doctor pal Bill, who was not quite on Anne’s love radar, professes his love for Anne.

Given the pub date, I was so glad that Anne did not quit medicine to “be a real woman”. She struggles and makes mistakes, gets yelled at by nurses, and works hard. I like that she is not necessarily portrayed as some serene goddess of perfection. She seems to mature through the book as both an adult woman and a doctor.

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More Teen Angst for #FridayFiction

Class Pictures
Sachs
1980

We have more teen angst for #fridayfiction today. Pat and Lolly met in kindergarten. The story is told by Pat. Using the class pictures from each year, Pat details the rocky road of this friendship. Pat is from a single parent household that is struggling and Lolly is from a wealthy family. Lolly’s mother isn’t a big fan of Pat, until she selected for a gifted/talented class. In the beginning, Pat was the popular one and by the time junior high school rolled around, Lolly was the beauty.

For the middle school crowd, this has that drama that most girls can relate to at that age. I don’t think there is a woman alive (maybe the guys too?) that didn’t have anxiety about who they were and where they fit in. Teen and pre-teen angst is always good fodder for the young adult set.

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Friday Fiction: Was it something I said?

Was it something I said?
Thesman
1988

Today we have another special teen title straight from the 1980s. 16 year old Bonnie is short. In addition, she was just dumped by her boyfriend saying she just looked too young. Evidently, boyfriend got embarrassed because the last time they went to the movies, the cashier asked if he wanted to buy her a child’s ticket.

Meanwhile, everyone at school is getting excited for the school fair and the fortune teller in the Oracle of Delphi booth. Bonnie’s BFF, Anne, was scheduled to do the bit as the fortune teller but ended up being sick. She asked Bonnie to cover. No one knew that Bonnie was covering and the fortunes she told took on a life of their own. All sorts of drama ensues as cute next door neighbor boy, Mitch gets obsessed with his fake fortune about Bonnie.

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Friday Fiction: Nothing Hurts But My Heart

Nothing Hurts But My Heart
Barr
1987

I saw this and immediately picked it up for the perfect 1980s hair and make-up. This is straight out of the Brooke Shields handbook for 1980s beauty. I mean, look at those eyebrows!

Our protagonist is Lisa, who is a high performing gymnast with an eye for the Olympics. However, she is diagnosed with scoliosis and must give up her gymnastics career. She also has to wear a back brace for several years to keep the condition from getting worse. I remember a few students having to wear those back braces. They did look uncomfortable and I can only imagine it was difficult to adjust to the brace and having certain activities limited.

The book is dated, but I liked the fact that there wasn’t a magic solution. The reality for Lisa was no gymnastics and wearing a back brace. There was a lot of discussion about scoliosis, which bordered on excessive. Life doesn’t always go according to plan, but at least there is a cute boy named Jeff from her math class.

Indian Summer Cover

Indian Summer

Indian Summer
Monjo
1968

Submitter: This 50 year old beginning reader book is a woefully one-sided history lesson about Kentucky settlers vs. The Indians. While Pa is off to “lick the British” with the likes of George Washington, Ma is left behind with her rifle to defend her children and their cabin from Indian attack. The story features stereotypical Indian illustrations, and atrocious language such as “redskins” and the children fearing they’ll be “scalped.” This was one of the original items owned in our children’s collection, and it last circulated in 2017, I’m sad to say. When I noticed the faded cover and yellowed pages, then discovered the terribly racist historical fiction within this book, I weeded it quickly. For fun, note the old fashioned “wash your hands” sticker we used to put in the front cover of children’s books at our library. It’s the best and most relevant part of this book!

Holly: Public libraries are not the place for this kind of thing anymore! Pass it on to a museum or archive…or wherever you’re putting your Little House on the Prairie books.

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A Hijacking Love Story

Hostage Nurse
Converse
1973

This book features a dangerous theme of a hijacking bringing together our hero and heroine.  At the time this was published, airplane hijackings were in the news all the time. It was almost a joke at the time. No doubt this book would have been the very definition of a contemporary romance.

Childhood pals Alex and Jenny dreamed of careers in medicine. Jenny is a nurse and Alex is a newly minted intern. Jenny worked in orthopedics and when Alex rotated into her service, she noticed he had turned into a jerk with a God complex. (big surprise) Jenny called him out and the next thing you know he is calling her “one of those bra burning women that want to be men.” Jenny dumped this “smug tyrant” and now dreaded telling her family that the relationship was done.