Staff Blogs

Booktalking The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert

The Only Black Girls in Town coverEwing Beach, California. Surf, sun, and lots of fun. Alberta is an up-and-coming seventh grader who has the pleasure to live there with her fabulous dads. She loves everything about it, especially her bff, Laramie. The girls hang out much during the summer. They enjoy spending time on the beach and getting free ice cream at the Coleman Creamery where Laramie's brother, Leif, works. They discuss all things: girl talk, school and life in their Californian paradise. Everything is going great for Alberta this summer.
Then it gets even better.
She discovers that another black family will be moving into the neighborhood. They will occupy the bed and breakfast across the street from Alberta's house. The tween is beyond thrilled to have a black girl to befriend. It is a bit challenging for her to be surrounded by mostly white folks. She longs to have someone that looks like her and understands what it is like to be stared at just because she looks different, to have people assume that she doesn't belong just because she is different. Alberta will finally have someone to commiserate with. 
That comes in the form of Edie. She is everything that Alberta hoped for... and more.
Edie is goth girl through and through. The tween is adorned in all black and purple clothing, complete with combat books. All of the decor in her attic bedroom is black, down to the rugs and curtains. Edie is a bit of a fish out of water in the small Californian town since she comes from Brooklyn, New York. She misses the people and the corner bodega, where she could get absolutely everything. However, she likes Alberta very much, and she wants to give the bed and breakfast thing a try with her mother.
Edie, Laramie and Alberta begin hanging out together. They face the challenges of seventh grade as a cohesive team. Laramie is soaking up the Californian life. Alberta is adjusting to living with her pregnant surrogate mother, along with her dads. Edie is being called Wednesday Adams at school; she is a bit of a sensation, being the new kid in a small town. The three girls can take on anything with the support of each other and their families.
The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert, 2020
I love diverse books, and Brandy Colbert is a talented author.
by Miranda McDermott

Booktalking Crossing the Line by Kareem Rosser

cover of Crossing the Line by Kareem RosserWork to ride is the name of the game... because that's exactly what you do at Chaumounix Equestrian Center in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. This treasure, located near "The Bottom" was a treasure trove for Kareem and his siblings during their youth. His older brothers Dee and David, discovered the barn while on an exploratory bicycle foray through the park. The boys were entranced by the horses. When Lezlie, the barn owner,  approached them and inquired as to whether they wanted to ride, they immediately agreed. Kareem loves equines just as much as his siblings, and he pined to join his brothers. So...  after much poking and prodding, his mother ordered the older boys to allow the horse crazy youth to tag along. 
Six kids. The first was born to a 14-year-old mother, the second to a 15-year-old mother. Kareem grew up in "The Bottom," a gritty, depressing part of town where one's foremost goal every day was to dodge bullets. Drugs, prostitution and poverty littered the sidewalks there as far as the eye could see. The boy's mom worked many jobs to try to support the family; she even became involved with abusive men who gave her money for food, rent and drugs. The kids were pretty much given free rein to go whichever way the wind blew. Fortunately, the youngsters happened upon Lezlie and the relative safety of the barn.
Lezlie was obsessed with horses from the time she was a little girl. She tried a conventional life by obtaining a BA in psychology, then a record store job. But equines were her passion, and they kept calling her back to them. She knew she had to find a way to spend her life with horses. One day, she met a young boy named Clay who pined to get involved with the large mammals. Unable to resist his charming whimsy, the lady took him under her wing and taught him all that she could about the animals and riding. Then, she was able to scrape together her money to found the organization Work to Ride, a not-for-profit devoted to helping urban kids find a better way in life. Donated horses that no one wanted and off-the-track horses populated the barn.
When Kareem first saw the barn, it was overrun with kids. Small humans were everywhere, coming out of the stalls, riding horses, leading horses around; it seemed like a dream. Not an adult in sight that he could recall. An older brother, David, took him for a pony ride. Young Kareem was terrified that he would fall, that the horse would bolt, any sort of calamities could occur... but none did.  The ride merely consisted of his elderly mount walking carefully and slowly trotting in circles. Although the boy's muscles were sore when he dismounted, Kareem was overwhelmed with the urgent desire to do it all over again.
The cover of this work is priceless, though I would not recommend riding shirtless and in shorts. I lived in Philly for 4.5 years, and I love Fairmount Park. I was fascinated by Work To Ride, but I never visited the barn. I love that Lezlie is giving low wealth, urban youth a chance to choose a life other than violence, drugs and crime.
by Miranda McDermott

What Most People Don't Know

The inventor of the wooden golf tee began his education in Oswego and was one of the first children to use the Oswego Public Library. In 1857 George Franklin Grant was 11 when the library opened here in our Castle on the Hill.

George Franklin Grant recognized by golf

Born in 1800, Tudor Elandor Grant, the father of George Franklin Grant, was a runaway slave from Maryland who settled in Oswego in 1832. When George was young, Tudor had a barber shop in the basement of the Welland Building and later in the Buckhout-Jones Building where the Children's Museum of Oswego now resides. Tudor worked tirelessly to free slaves and outlaw slavery. The Grant family lived at 134 W. Bridge St. where George was one of seven children.

George began work at 15 as an errand boy for a local dentist and soon became the lab assistant, learning the basics of a dental practice. In 1867 George moved to Boston graduating from Harvard Dental School in 1870 -- the second African American dental graduate in the country. Dr. George Grant went on to be the first African American faculty member at Harvard. He pioneered the treatment of cleft palates, an opening in the roof of the mouth, inventing an oblate palate prosthesis. The oblate palate helped patients around the world eat and speak well.

When he left Harvard, Dr. George Grant opened his own successful dental practice treating patients from as far away as Michigan. He also invented the wooden golf tee in 1899 which was made in an Arlington Heights shop. In Game of Privilege: An African American History of Golf, George's daughter Frances is quoted as saying "My father had burlap bags of golf tees, but he gave them away instead of selling them."