They Better Call Me Sugar: My Journey from the Hood to the Hard Wood by Sugar Rodgers Black Sheep/Akashic Books Publication Date: May 4, 2021 ISBN: 978-1617759710
WNBA All-Star Sugar Rodgers shares her story of growing up, poverty, family life, school, sports, friends, and how she eventually shaped a successful career as a professional basketball player for herself.
The author’s writing style is clear and direct, and events happen chronologically. Tough issues are covered with a matter-of-fact tone. The book is less than 200 pages and Sugar’s voice is engaging and relatable. Basketball is central to Sugar’s story but she also talks about golf, meeting Tiger Woods, and the integral role of coaches in her life.
Around the country, school libraries are going quiet just as public libraries are beginning to reopen, swinging wide their doors just in time to celebrate Juneteenth. Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, marks the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Texas were first informed of their freedom as a result of Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. Gradually becoming a national holiday, Juneteenth offers librarians the chance to highlight a wide variety of resources. Here, we collect a few:
As this New York Times article points out, food plays a huge role in Juneteenth celebrations. Cookbooks and food memoirs can be an excellent way to mark the occasion and to draw teens into titles they might not turn to on their own. Along the way, they maybe even spark a new hobby or interest! First, a few instant classics from the legendary Edna Lewis and renowned cook and food historian Toni Tipton Martin:
If you don’t already have the YA adaptation of Kwame Onwuachi’s Notes from a Young Black Chef, get it now! This memoir would be great for foodies or social justice warriors as it faces the realities of racism in fine dining.
For those more interested in the history behind and around Juneteenth, Annette Gordon-Reed’s slim book On Juneteenth offers an accessible option that, while published for adults, could have easy appeal to teens.
And though it tackles the history and legacy of slavery overall, Clint Smith’s infinitely readable How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America pays ample attention to Juneteenth.
Finally, one of the new editions of Ralph Ellison’s posthumously published Juneteenth should be in every collection. Though not about the celebration, per se, Ellison offers a fascinating depiction of yet another form of Juneteenth commemoration: the sermon. In his telling of this Juneteenth, the traditional call and response of worship and preaching in the Black church is captured, reminding us of yet another way to mark the occasion.
2019 Printz Winner for The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo’s much anticipated sophomore novel With the Fire On High, is a book about embracing your passions, and charting your future. Emoni Santiago, an Afro-Boricua high school senior has had a gift for cooking since she was young. She and her toddler daughter live with her supportive grandmother, but Emoni needs to decide where she wants to go to school and what she wants to do after graduation. When her school offers a new class, “Culinary Arts: Spain Immersion,” Emoni has a chance to immerse herself in cooking in a way that she can start to see what is possible with her gift.
Foodie readers will swoon over Acevedo’s writing on food and cooking, and it will leave them hungering for more. Here are a few delicious titles about food and cooking to pair With the Fire On High:
Click here to see all of the current Amazing Audiobooks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Notes From A Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi and Joshua David Stein; Narrated Kwame Onwuachi Random House Audio Publication Date: April 9, 2019 ISBN: 978-1524732622
Kwame Onwuachi’s memoir of food, cooking, and restaurants is an ode to persistence, savvy, and hard work. Onwuachi might be most familiar to Top Chef fans from his time as a contestant or to gastronomes for his boldly envisioned restaurant, Shaw Bijou. Still, in his mid-twenties, much of the book chronicles his complicated childhood. Experiences with an abusive father had him steered in an unfulfilling direction until he returned to cooking giving him outlets for both his creative and business savvy. He profiles his time going to the Culinary Institute of America, apprenticing at some of the world’s most renowned restaurants, starting his own catering business as a way to pay for school, the racism he faced in some of the kitchens as often the only person of color, and his persistence to create something new and unique telling his story through food.