Visiting Author for Schools: Jason Reynolds
DATE OF SCHOOL VISIT
Friday, February 24, 2017 (Jason will visit two schools; one in the morning and one in the afternoon.)
WHY HOST JASON? He's cool, sweet, charming, and Ghost was just short-listed for the National Book Award! This is Jason's very first series: Ghost is the first of four books, one each from the different members of a middle school track team. A recent Q&A gave us this:
QUESTION: Do you think it's important that the main characters in your works are people of color?
ANSWER: Absolutely. I'm a black man. I know...SURPRISE! Hahaha. But seriously, it means the world to me to share some stories about people and families and neighborhoods that not everyone knows, or even considers. There is so much beauty in the world. So many different stories to tell, not just within a particular country, or a particular culture, but even just in a single person. My job is to try to peel away some of the layers and walls to expose the humanness and the connectivity in us all. Plus, just because we're all different, have various backgrounds and customs, doesn't mean we can't celebrate the very creativity that makes us unique.
ABOUT THE BOOK: Ghost
Ghost wants to be the fastest sprinter on his elite middle school track team, but his past is slowing him down in this first electrifying novel of a brand-new series from Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award–winning author Jason Reynolds. Ghost. Lu. Patina. Sunny. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team—a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves. Ghost has a crazy natural talent, but no formal training. If he can stay on track, literally and figuratively, he could be the best sprinter in the city. But Ghost has been running for the wrong reasons—it all starting with running away from his father, who, when Ghost was a very little boy, chased him and his mother through their apartment, then down the street, with a loaded gun, aiming to kill. Since then, Ghost has been the one causing problems—and running away from them—until he meets Coach, an ex-Olympic Medalist who blew his own shot at success by using drugs, and who is determined to keep other kids from blowing their shots at life.
Praise for Ghost
"This pitch-perfect contemporary novel gently explores the past's repercussions on the present." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review on Ghost
"Jason Reynolds guides us unerringly through a father-son relationship and the urban landscape in which they live. Readers will discover new meanings for the term 'family' and how street life can affect and redefine traditional values. I'm glad I've found Mr. Reynolds, a bright new talent." -- Walter Dean Myers, Author of the Printz Award-winner and National Book Award nominee Monster, on The Boy in the Black Suit
"An important new voice." -- Laurie Halse Anderson, author of many YA and middle-grade novels, including Speak and the Seeds of America trilogy on Jason Reynolds
"Another hit for Reynolds . . . The author's seemingly effortless writing shines in this slice-of-life story, which covers a lot of the protagonist's emotional ground. The realistic setting and character-driven tale keeps readers turning the pages of this winner." -- School Library Journal on The Boy in the Black Suit
"Snappy descriptions and a hard-won ending round out a funny and rewarding read." -- Publishers Weekly, Starred Review on When I Was the Greatest
"Thought-provoking and original. I’ve never met characters like these before and fell in love with them immediately. Reynolds is someone to watch. I loved this book: I was blown away by it." -- Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award-Winning Author of Brown Girl Dreaming on When I Was the Greatest
"Reynolds takes care to trust his young readers to understand their own maturation process and how it might envelope differently depending on circumstance." -- Solange Knowles (Beyoncé's sister) on When I Was the Greatest
ABOUT THE BOOK: All American Boys (co-authored by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely)
"As a black man and a white man, both writers and educators, we came together to co-write a book about how systemic racism and police brutality affect the lives of young people in America, in order to create an important, unique, and honest work that would give young people and the people who educate them a tool for having these difficult but absolutely vital conversations.” -- Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Two teens one black, one white grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension.
A bag of chips. That's all sixteen-year-old Rashad is looking for at the corner bodega. What he finds instead is a fist-happy cop, Paul Galluzzo, who mistakes Rashad for a shoplifter, mistakes Rashad's pleadings that he's stolen nothing for belligerence, mistakes Rashad's resistance to leave the bodega as resisting arrest, mistakes Rashad's every flinch at every punch the cop throws as further resistance and refusal to STAY STILL as ordered. But how can you stay still when someone is pounding your face into the concrete pavement? There were witnesses: Quinn Collins a varsity basketball player and Rashad's classmate who has been raised by Paul since his own father died in Afghanistan and a video camera. Soon the beating is all over the news and Paul is getting threatened with accusations of prejudice and racial brutality. Quinn refuses to believe that the man who has basically been his savior could possibly be guilty. But then Rashad is absent. And absent again. And again. And the basketball team half of whom are Rashad's best friends start to take sides. As does the school. And the town. Simmering tensions threaten to explode as Rashad and Quinn are forced to face decisions and consequences they had never considered before. Written in tandem by two award-winning authors, this four-starred reviews tour de force shares the alternating perspectives of Rashad and Quinn as the complications from that single violent moment, the type taken from the headlines, unfold and reverberate to highlight an unwelcome truth.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Reynolds is crazy. About stories. He is the author of critically-acclaimed young adult novels, When I Was the Greatest, for which he was the recipient of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent; the Coretta Scott King Honor book, The Boy in the Black Suit, and All American Boys (cowritten with Brendan Kiely, also the winner of the Walter Dean Myers Award); his stunning middle-grade debut, As Brave As You; and Ghost, the first book in his middle-grade Track series. You can find his ramblings at www.JasonWritesBooks.com.
- Reading group guide for All American Boys
- Dedicated website for All America Boys with discussions, videos, etc.
- Videos on race, writing and making a difference
LENGTH & TOPIC OF PRESENTATION
About 45 minutes long (and can be tweaked longer or shorter if needed). Jason talks about his books and his inspirations.
SCHOOL TYPE & GRADES
Middle School; grades 6-8
DESIRED # OF STUDENTS
The more, the better.
A microphone and a bottle of water.
Tattered Cover will design an order form that the school should distribute in advance of the author visit, and again on the day of the event to all student attendees.