Face Relations ed by Marilyn Singer.
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: NY, 2004.

This book includes 11 short stories about seeing beyond color. There is a wide variety of prejudicial aspects, as well as a broad range of perspectives.

The coolest and one of the saddest is The Heartbeat of the Soul of the World by René Saldaña Jr., in which a student learns the transcendent spirit present in different styles of music from musicians of dissimilar backgrounds. The boy and his teacher become close friends. A rare, intuitive moment squashed by a random senseless act. Still, if one student can acknowledge the lesson, others will also.

In Hum by Naomi Shihab Nye, a blind man befriends a Palestinian living in West Texas when the boy feels ostracized after the events of 9-11. They discuss many issues, and the man even encourages Sami to start a dialogue group at school in which he can converse with other students looking for open communication.

Epiphany by Ellen Wittlinger deals with a problem that bothered me in my high school - students separated into ethnic groups in the cafeteria. A white girl is determined not to lose her best friend when they start middle school just because she is black. Her friend wants to be a part of the circle of black students, so DeMaris decides to insert herself at the lunch table to be with her friend, embarrassing Epiphany, and making waves with her open attitude.

In Mr. Ruben, Dee tries to set up a date between her friends Myra and Shaheed while Myra moons over their math teacher. Myra is obsessed with the possibility that Mr. Ruben might be partially black. Dee suggests a way for them to discover the truth.

Negress by Marilyn Singer is probably the most agitative of the stories. As senior students prepare their exit presentations, Vonny (black) chooses a racially confrontational reenactment and expects Beth (white) to do it with her. Beth has difficulty explaining why she is unwilling to do the project, but then relents after hearing other students laughing about their situation. But a change must be made before she will participate, and neither one predicts the emotions evoked.

These are the five that impressed me the most, but I'm sure that is partly because of my own experiences. Some of the stories I would have liked to see extended. Like usual, I want to read more of what these authors have written. Some I already have, like Joseph Bruchac. I love that there is a section at the end that discusses the authors, their works, and their included stories. And this is the book that prompted me to aggregate a list of short stories from several books that I think deserve more attention.

Also included in the book, Phat Acceptance by Jess Mowry deals with stereotypes of fat, black, and beach bums and how to navigate school while trying to be accepted by the crowd. Skins by Joseph Bruchac depicts a boy who wants to appear more Native American and another who looks the part and is ashamed of his pretense. Snow by Sherri Winston explores segregation and favoritism within a mostly black school, variations within the black community with black people treating foreign black people in the same prejudicial ways they have been treated. In the case of the principal, it is for political and ambitious reasons. Black and White by Kyoko Mori is about a Japanese girl who is pressed by her mother to be perfect for fear that the community might be blamed for local problems otherwise. At the same time, one of her friends is pushing her to comply with a delinquent act. M. E. Kerr describes two relationships (different age groups) between couples from different backgrounds in Hearing Flower. The bigger issue is the relationship of Mexican immigrants and the older residents in the area and what changes have been made in the community. Gold by Marina Budhos is about mixed relationships and mixed ancestry, in particular, a girl from Trinidad of black and Indian (from India) descent. Also involved is the level of respect within relationships.


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