||Between the Lines
Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin Young Readers, 2018
About the Book
This thought-provoking companion to Bronx Masquerade shows the capacity poetry has to express ideas and feelings, and connect us with ourselves and others.
Darrian dreams of writing for the New York Times. To hone his skills and learn more about the power of words, he enrolls in Mr. Ward’s class, known for its open-mic poetry readings and boys vs. girls poetry slam. Everyone in class has something important to say, and in sharing their poetry, they learn that they all face challenges and have a story to tell—whether it’s about health problems, aging out of foster care, being bullied for religious beliefs, or having to take on too much responsibility because of an addicted parent. As Darrian and his classmates get to know one another through poetry, they bond over the shared experiences and truth that emerge from their writing, despite their private struggles and outward differences.
Between the Lines: Foster Kids Resource List
Bronx Masquerade, Between the Lines Teaching Guide
“Poetry provides the medium through which these teens express, explore, declare, grow: “when a story is true, you have to tell it… to write it in a way that will force people to stop and read it”—and hear and feel it. With Mr. Ward's “Open Mike Friday” fast approaching, students get ready to showcase their revelations-in-verse before a live audience of family and friends—including a few familiar Masquerade poets who return to encourage and enlighten. Each will be “standing out, but standing together.” Let the slam begin. (Shelf Awareness, starred review, Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon)
“Told in nine voices and interspersed with poetry, Grimes stuns in this companion novel to The Bronx Masquerade. The next iteration of teens in Mr. Ward’s class are learning how to write poetry, rhyme, and flow, all the while opening up to each other about their various struggles …. Aptly describes inner-city problems, from police discrimination to gangs, but the teens are the focal point of the novel …. Grimes excels at making the students multidimensional and complex. This diverse cast’s strong inner conflict will enhance any bookshelf.” (Booklist)
“Grimes adroitly orchestrates a chorus of emotional teenage voices in this thought-provoking companion to the Coretta Scott King Award–winning Bronx Masquerade…. While underscoring the difficulties these teens face, Grimes’s economical writing provides glimmers of hope, showing how forming bonds of trust and finding the courage to speak one’s truth can help ease emotional pain and bring salvation.” (Publishers Weekly)
“These complex students use poetry to find their truest voices and write their own stories … Each character occupies his or her own space and no one character or voice monopolizes the story. The narratives of immigrants, foster children, families effected by incarceration, and teens taxed with familial burdens are thoroughly explored in a thought-provoking way. The poems and voices are a perfect blend of the many facets of American teens’ lives. An excellent companion book that lends itself easily to a teacher’s poetry unit, this is a great choice for school and public libraries.” (School Library Journal)