Tag Archives: Ibi Zoboi

Ibi Zoboi’s American Street

In the neighborhood where I live, a cardboard stork makes its way to the front lawn of new moms and dads. The stork holds from its bill a sign that advertises the name, sex, birthday, and birth weight of the newborn. We drive past the stork on our way to work, acknowledging the child and wishing that the world proves to be a kind, welcoming, and safe place for him/her to flourish.

You and I don’t live in the same neighborhood, but technology has made us neighbors. Let me tell you about a newborn that greeted us on Valentine’s Day. The new mom’s name is Ibi Zoboi. If you have not heard of her, you will. Trust me. The baby’s name is American Street.

Ibi is a staunch supporter of the marginalized. Tears leak out of her eyes, when she contemplates how her birthplace, Haiti, is consistently demonized. She redeems her homeland through the fearlessness of her protagonist, Fabiola Toussaint, a black girl whose mother is detained by the immigration police. Fabiola, whose namesake is Toussaint Louverture—the fearless leader of Haiti’s successful slave revolution—must go home alone to make sense out of her hostile world. She meets challenges no child should; negotiates Detroit’s punishing streets, to emerge as the heroine we will come to love.

This young adult novel will make you believe, once again, in a girl’s power to endure and thrive. Kirkus Review puts it this way: “[American Street] will take root in readers’ hearts.” In these days of “extreme vetting,” this book about the immigrant experience could not be timelier. Run to your favorite bookstore, and get a copy for yourself and one for your best friend(s). Spread the word on social media. Let’s make Fabiola Toussaint the star she deserves to be.

By the way, I’ve been accused of being able to “see into the future.” If that were true, I would have done many things differently. However, something tells me American Street is destined for greatness.  I see a movie in its future. I see Fabiola Toussaint’s face on lunch boxes and mouse pads. I see a television series. I see children all over the world being inspired to be bold and heroic. I see a promising future.

Great job, Ibi! I cannot wait for the next book

Ibi Zoboi was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and immigrated to the U.S. when she was four years old. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she was a recipient of the Norma Fox Mazer Award. Her award-winning and Pushcart-nominated writing has been published in Haiti Noir, the Caribbean Writer, The New York Times Book Review, the Horn Book Magazine, and The Rumpus, among others. Her debut YA novel AMERICAN STREET (Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins) is due out in Winter 2017. Her debut Middle Grade novel, MY LIFE AS AN ICE CREAM SANDWICH (Dutton/Penguin), is forthcoming.

Death is a Six-Course Meal

Akashic Books Photo

Akashic Books Photo

Dark Days in Port-au-Prince is like a lavish meal, served Exquisite Corpse style–over six scrumptious courses–cooked to perfection by six Haitian writers who can’t seem to get enough of working with one another.

michele fievre phto haiti noirTheir work have been published together in various anthologies, beginning in 2001 with Butterfly’s Way: Voices from Haitian in the Dyaspora (Soho Press). Brassage (UCSB, 2005), Haiti Noir 1 (Akashic Books, 2011), So Spoke the Earth (WWOHD, 2013), Haiti Noir 2 (Akashic Books, 2014), a children’s books series, and now this.

Courses 1, 2, and 3 of Dark Days in Port-au-Prince have been served, but that won’t spoil your fine dining experience. If you have not yet savored those scrumptious dishes, they’re readily available on Akashic Book’s website.  The  4th course will be brought to your table on 1/24/14; it will  be hot–that much we can say.  And because Chez  akashicbooks.com is known for its avant-garde menu, each bite will likely thrill your taste buds.  To death.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is the order in which this story unfolds:  Roxane Gay (section 1), Michele Jessica Fievre (section 2) , Ibi Zoboi (section 3), Katia D. Ulysse (section 4), Josaphat-Robert Large (section 5), and Edwidge Danticat (section 6) .

HaitiNoir2_TheClassics-506x800Although many of us would love to know how the story will end, we must wait one week between each installment.

Readers know only what happened in the previous 3 sections. The writers have no clue about what twist will follow their own contributions. Join us at  akashicbooks Friday (1/24/14), before we all bite our fingernails down to the quick.

Since Master Chef, Josaphat Robert Large, always cooks up a fine story, we know his section will be plate-licking good.

Edwidge Danticat, will provide the killer ending, making this final course unforgettable.

In the meantime, dig into Katia D. Ulysse’s Part 4 on 1/24/14. Try not to burn your tongue.

Bon appétit!

Black History Month: The Little Rock Nine, Wayétu Moore, and Fabiola


little-rock-nine-students
It was supposed to the beginning of a new school year–a season charged with expectation and optimism, not a time to be caught in other people’s petty, stale, yet violent wars.

The year was 1957. Teachers, good and refreshed, had prepared thoughtful and engaging lessons. Governor Orval Eugene Faubus–hellbent on preventing children of all colors to sit together in the same classroom–had prepared his own lesson so meticulously that it took federal troops to help him modify it.

Uncertain of his own power to defy the Supreme Court ruling that outlawed segregation (Brown v. Board of Education), Governor Faubus summoned the Arkansas National Guard to hold back little Elizabeth. For extra reinforcement, mobs of grown men, women, and their children took aim, firing their sharpest insults and threats.

Elizabeth Ann Eckford - will_counts1_fElizabeth Eckford had wanted only to go to school–like most ‘normal’  high school students.  Holding her books securely against her chest, she took careful steps toward Central High’s front door.

Bullies disguised as everyday white-folk had gathered to teach Elizabeth their own rigorous lesson.  Their objective: Student will be so completely traumatized and terrorized that she will run/walk/stumble as far away from Central High and everyone’s sight as swiftly as possible.

The bullies won that September morning.  They pumped their fists and spat as Elizabeth walked back to her bus stop, leaving Little Rock’s Central High School. The girl’s face was set like stone. But like any stone thrown violently into a body of water, Elizabeth Eckford caused concentric circles to form and spread.

When Elizabeth returned to Central High weeks after she was forced to walk away, eight other determined students had joined her. The hate-mobs returned as well, but they were like paper dolls in a hurricane. The winds of change would scatter them; history would be made.

d090457Millions of black students walk into schools today with an opportunity to learn because The Little Rock Nine dared. Elizabeth and her schoolmates were like nine stones hurled into the seemingly infinite ocean of racism, causing concentric circles to spread so far and so wide within the Civil Rights Movement that we see them even today.

This Black History Month, VoicesfromHaiti honors Melba Pattillo Beals, Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Ann Eckford, Ernest Green, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Carlotta Walls LaNier, Themlma Mothershed, and Terrence Roberts: The Little Rock Nine who risked their lives for a chance to go to school.

We honor Wayétu Moore. This lady has made it her business to illuminate the mindpath of children from countries with low literacy rates. Moore’s young publishing company, One Moore Book, delivers children’s own stories to them.

Wayetu-Moore

Wayetu Moore

Wayétu dedicated the first cycle of books to her beloved father and the children of her native Liberia, saying:  “I will never be able to give my father back the twenty years he spent working to educate us, or the home and life in Liberia he lost. I repay his sacrifice by honoring the education he fought for and offering my art to the world, with stories that make the histories and narratives of my people come alive. . .”

One Moore Book’s current series is dedicated to the children of my beloved Haiti. The six books in the series are written by Maureen Boyer, Edwidge Danticat, Michele Jessica Fievre, Cybille St. Aude, Ibi Zoboi, and Katia D. Ulysse.

Finally, much honor and respect for a little girl named Fabiola who lives thousands of miles away in Toupatou, Haiti. Fabiola does not go to school, not because a stubborn governor has deployed guards to keep her out. Fabiola is a modern-day slave: a rèstavèk. Learn more about rèstavèks in Haiti. Read and share Fabiola’s story. Support One Moore Book’s Haiti Series by buying all six books!

Every child deserves the chance to go to school.

I am ridingI am Riding by Michele Jessica Fievre ~ Illustrated by Jean Patrick Icart-Pierre

The Last Mapou by Edwidge Danticat

 

 

The Last Mapou by Edwidge Danticat ~ Illustrated by Eduard Duval Carrie

 

FabiolacancountFabiola Can Count by Katia D. Ulysse ~ Illustrated by Kula Moore

 

a is for ayiti

A is for Ayiti by Ibi Zoboi

 

 

 

where is lola

 

Where is Lola?

by

Maureen Boyer