2003 Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner
Synopses & Reviews
When Wesley Boone writes a poem for his high school English class, some of his classmates clamor to read their poems aloud too. Soon they're having weekly poetry sessions and, one by one, the eighteen students are opening up and taking on the risky challenge of self-revelation. There's Lupe Alvarin, desperate to have a baby so she will feel loved. Raynard Patterson, hiding a secret behind his silence. Porscha Johnson, needing an outlet for her anger after her mother OD's. Through the poetry they share and narratives in which they reveal their most intimate thoughts about themselves and one another, their words and lives show what lies beneath the skin, behind the eyes, beyond the masquerade.
"A flowing, rhythmic portrait of the diversity and individuality of teen characters in a classroom....Competent and reluctant readers alike will recognize and empathize with these teens. As always, Grimes gives young people exactly what they're looking for real characters who show them they are not alone." School Library Journal
"[A]lmost like a play for 18 voices....[The characters] are rich and complex teens, and their tentative reaching out to each other increases as through the poems they also find more of themselves." Kirkus Reviews
"Grimes's creative, contemporary premise will hook teens, and the poems may even inspire readers to try a few of their own....Ultimately, though, there may be too many characters for the audience to penetrate deeply....Any one of these students could likely dominate a novel of his or her own, they simply get too little time to hold the floor here." Publishers Weekly
"[B]eautifully crafted poems....Grimes addresses many of today's teen issues through the characters' unforgettable voices and poems. In the spirit of Gil Alicea's memoir The Air Down Here, this book will be an exciting addition to urban public and school libraries and will serve well in teen poetry classes, speaking to the poet in every teen who picks it up." VOYA
"With such short vignettes, the characters are never fully realized, and the message about poetry's ability to move beyond color and cultural boundaries is anything but subtle. Even so, readers will enjoy the lively, smart voices that talk bravely about real issues and secret fears. A fantastic choice for readers' theater." Gillian Engberg, Booklist
"Grimes is adept at introducing people through their essays and their poetry and connecting the next voice to what has come before....[U]ltimately what this book is about [is] developing students' pride in themselves and their potential, helping them to communicate among themselves and in the wider world of their families and community." KLIATT
Eighteen students in a high school English class open up and take the risky challenge of self-revelation in weekly poetry sessions. Through their poetry and narratives, they share their most intimate thoughts about themselves and one another, their lives, and what lies beneath the skin and beyond the masquerade. Winner of the Coretta Scott King Award for 2003.
About the Author
Nikki Grimes conveyed the fire-in-the-belly fervor of a Harlem girl who knows she was born to write in Jazmin's Notebook, a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. In My Man Blue, a Booklist Editor's Choice and Newsweek Children's Books of the Year selection, her artful words expressed a boy's journey from skepticism to trust. And now with Bronx Masquerade she presents a rich chorus of eighteen voices, singing openly about ideas, feelings, and questions things that open minds, invite debate, provide release. An accomplished poet, novelist, journalist, and educator, Ms. Grimes was born and raised in New York City and now lives in the Los Angeles area.