Stride Toward Freedom

“The act of walking for many had become of symbolic importance. Once, a pool driver stopped beside an elderly woman who was trudging along with obvious difficulty. “Jump in grandmother,” he said, “you don’t need to walk.” She waved him off, “I’m not walking for myself,” she explained, “I’m walking for my children and my grandchildren.” And she continued toward home on foot.”

Image result for montgomery bus boycottI want to draw attention to a true gem in our collection; the e-audiobook of Martin Luther King Jr.’s incredible book, Stride Toward Freedom: a first-person (and sometimes tremendously personal) narrative of the Montgomery Story from King’s perspective. From December the 5th, 1955 (following the arrest of Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat on a city bus when ordered to) until December 20, 1956, the Black community in Montgomery, Alabama boycotted the city buses. At the time, the history of mistreatment on those buses was so rampant that there was scarcely anybody who had not either witnessed, heard of, or themselves experienced some incident of indignity or injustice. In one extreme case, a man was shot and killed because he refused to exit the bus unless his ten-cent fare was returned to him. The driver had ordered him to exit the front doors and reenter through the back doors. The bus was so jammed that he would not have been able to do so, but he agreed to leave the bus entirely so long as his fare was returned. Many times, bus drivers would give this order—to reenter the bus from the back doors—only to drive off before the person could reach those doors. In another case, a man’s leg was shut in the door as his wife attempted to assist him off of the bus and he was dragged some way along before the driver finally stopped. A fifteen-year-old girl, Claudette Colvin, was arrested on charges of assault and battery, disorderly conduct and violation of a city ordinance for refusing to give up her seat and move to the assigned section.  The rampant nature of stories such as these is the reason why Martin Luther King Jr. writes in Stride Toward Freedom that while Mrs. Parks’ arrest may have precipitated the protest, it was not the cause. Those roots ran far deeper. My interest in King and the Montgomery Story has been budding and building over the past two years. In part, it is because I have bumped into King and this story in various places; in Simon Sinek’s works, in Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit and on one of my excursions to the American Library Association’s website where I came across a quote from Stride Toward Freedom that supplied me (in true ALA fashion) with a citation directing me to the correct source: “True peace is not merely the absence of tension, but the presence of justice Continue reading

It’s time to REROLL

The original Katamary Damacy first released on the PS2 back in 2004, and it quickly became a cult classic with a bunch of sequels. It was bright, fun, and absolutely bananas with a killer soundtrack.

I am therefore pleased to report that the 2018 remastered edition, Katamari Damacy Reroll, for both the Switch and Steam is much of the same. It’s a game that I grabbed on launch to check out, and I have zero regrets on that front. It’s a simple game with a simple premise, but an absolutely bonkers storyline, and hilarious dialogue.

For a bit of backstory, you play as the Prince (the charming green fellow in the image above) who is the son of the King of All Cosmos. You are tiny, while your Father is large, and he will never let you forget it.

The game begins when your Father, the King of all Cosmos, goes on an intergalactic bender… and accidentally destroys the moon, and all of the stars in the sky. As such, people are a bit upset about this turn of events, and this then in turn somehow becomes your problem. Your Father, who continues to be stellar at decision-making, then tasks you with repairing the night sky through the creation of new stars in order to get these people off his back. In order to make these stars you will need to roll a magical sticky ball around various landscapes, and accumulate miscellaneous objects into it’s ever growing mass. This ball is your katamari. To progress through the game you will roll your katamari while the game’s excellent soundtrack blares in the background (I personally recommend pumping the volume),  and you will continue with this task until your katamari is deemed big enough (or you run out of time and disappoint your Dad) to be launched into the sky for the purpose of replacing one of these missing astral bodies.

As the levels progress you will get to control an increasingly large katamari with which you will then be able to engulf people, buildings, and entire cities. As your domination of this earthly realm progresses, so to does the general storyline for the game – which is just as charmingly psychotic as everything else that is happening on screen. My only gripe with this game would be that the controls don’t seem to have received the same update that the graphics have. It can be easy for your katamari to get stuck behind objects, and the inevitable struggle to freedom will commonly destroy parts of your murder ball in the process. The controls in general can be a bit of an adjustment to get used to so paying attention to the tutorial and practicing these skills can be a necessity. All in all, Katamari Damacy Reroll is definitely a game I would recommend checking out – it’s cheerful, charming and ludicrous. A+ would roll again.

 

Black History Month: Children’s Books

Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon JamesFebruary is Black History Month and I really want to start this off with a picture book I absolutely adoreCrown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick D. Barnes, illustrated by James C. Gordon. This is a celebration of barbershop culture like nothing I’ve seen before, and absolutely blew me away! The illustrations & rhythm of the whole book were amazing, and it’s definitely meant to be read aloud. Barnes follows the young boy’s journey into the barbershop, where he becomes royalty, coming out of that shop with confidence in his step: “A fresh cut makes boys fly“.

I’m reminded of Barbershop Books (only in the U.S. right now, and I don’t know of anything like that in Canada, though there are also independent barbershops that have been inspired by Barbershop Books to encourage kids to read more, which is wonderful and also adorable), which I find a great initiative.

 

When I think of Black History Month recommended reads lists, what comes to mind are lists of books about:

  1. Slavery, and
  2. Civil Rights.
  3. I feel like that’s kind of the scope.

So I wanted to start us off first with children’s books that celebrate Black heritage by respecting Black people’s representation in books in all as full and diverse a range of possibilities as we see for white protagonists.

The first time I started thinking more about the scope of representation of Black protagonists in children’s books was when I first happened across an article in The Horn Book magazine that talked about how so many books targeted at Black kids were specifically on the topic of slavery & civil rights – which are important topics to talk about, given the continuing struggle against racism – and how it was fairly difficult to find books featuring Black protagonists just doing their thing and existing in a children’s book without the book overtly talking about racism. (I’m miffed that I can’t find the original article, but that was what I got out of it. ) So while some of these books are going to talk about race and slavery and civil rights, what I’m hoping for is that these books are also just going to be about the characters and what they’re doing in their lives.

So take a look below the cut for more!

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