Black Brother, Black Brother
Spring 2020 Kids Indie Next List
— Nathaniel Hattrick, Liberty Bay Books, Poulsbo, WA
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Sometimes, 12-year-old Donte wishes he were invisible. As one of the few black boys at Middlefield Prep, most of the students don't look like him. They don't like him either. Dubbing him "Black Brother," Donte's teachers and classmates make it clear they wish he were more like his lighter-skinned brother, Trey.
When he's bullied and framed by the captain of the fencing team, "King" Alan, he's suspended from school and arrested.
Terrified, searching for a place where he belongs, Donte joins a local youth center and meets former Olympic fencer Arden Jones. With Arden's help, he begins training as a competitive fencer, setting his sights on taking down the fencing team captain, no matter what.
As Donte hones his fencing skills and grows closer to achieving his goal, he learns the fight for justice is far from over. Now Donte must confront his bullies, racism, and the corrupt systems of power that led to his arrest.
Powerful and emotionally gripping, Black Brother, Black Brother is a careful examination of the school-to-prison pipeline and follows one boy's fight against racism and his empowering path to finding his voice.
Praise For Black Brother, Black Brother…
"Placing biracial boyhood and the struggles of colorism at its center, the novel challenges readers to pursue their own self-definition."Kirkus
*"An excellent selection for both elementary and middle library collections, this is a title that celebrates finding one's place in the world."School Library Connection, starred review
"Donte's story is a good primer for younger readers on microaggressions."School Library Journal
"This novel offers a solid story, with relatable, three-dimensional characters considering identity, that will teach readers about colorism's effects."
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316493802, 256pp.
Publication Date: March 3, 2020
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Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. Donte and Trey have a strong brotherly bond. How do they make space for one another? How do they include each other?
2. How do Donte and Trey’s friends support them? What specific actions do they take to make Donte and Trey feel safer and more included at school? What do you think it means to be an ally?
3. How do people react to Trey and his dad compared to Donte and his mom?
4. Fencing is described as an elite sport. What barriers make fencing difficult for more people to get involved in?
5. Coach eventually reveals his personal history with fencing to Donte. How do these revelations about Coach’s past affect Donte’s decisions in the present? How does Donte benefit from having Coach as a role model?
6. How does Donte change as he learns to fence? In what ways does he begin to think differently?
7. Donte remarks that he’s “got to be careful” walking around his neighborhood (p. 33). Why does Donte think this? How does this awareness affect his interactions with authority figures like his headmaster and the police?
8. The Middlefield Prep school motto is non nobis solum, which the headmaster translates as “not for ourselves alone” (p. 194). Do you think Middlefield lives up to this motto? How so?
9. Zarra tells Donte about the Alexandre Dumas biography The Black Count. How do the stories we are told impact how we view the world? Does history always show us the full story?
10. Through training, Donte discovers that fencing is a sport based on rules and etiquette. How can you apply the rules of fencing, namely “courage, honor, integrity, and chivalry,” to your everyday life (p. 189)?