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Hold Fast to Dreams

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Dee Willis is uncomfortable as the only black student in her suburban middle school. Will she fit in better if she acts white? "The subtle challenges that confront an African-American family as it integrates a community . . . a solid, believable tale."--The New York Times.

Twelve-year-old Deirdre, whose passion for photography has earned her the nickname "Camera Dee," feels uncomfortable being the only black student at her new ...

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Overview

Dee Willis is uncomfortable as the only black student in her suburban middle school. Will she fit in better if she acts white? "The subtle challenges that confront an African-American family as it integrates a community . . . a solid, believable tale."--The New York Times.

Twelve-year-old Deirdre, whose passion for photography has earned her the nickname "Camera Dee," feels uncomfortable being the only black student at her new school.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Pinkney (Alvin Ailey; Seven Candles for Kwanzaa) takes the title of her first YA novel from a poem by Langston Hughes, who happens to be 12-year-old narrator Dee's favorite poet. No one else in Dee's new town of Wexford, Conn., however, seems to have heard him, a difference emblematic of the great gulf between Dee, the only black girl in school, and her lacrosse-mad classmates. She misses her home in Baltimore, her spot on the ``Jumpin' Jive Five'' double-dutch team and, most of all, her best friend, Lorelle. Pinkney captures the emotional strain that goes along with change through Dee's free-form narrative. Frequently witty, it does not mask the pain experienced by Dee and by her younger sister, Lindsay, who is having troubles of her own adjusting to a posh private school. The author also shares valuable insights into the pressures affecting Dee's parents and other upwardly mobile African Americans. Frank dialogue about how white kids and black kids view each other helps to burst apart stereotypes while affirming racial difference. Ages 10-up. (May)
Children's Literature - Sherri Byrand
Moving mid-school year to a new town, 12-year-old Dee Willis faces more than the pain of having to leave a best friend and her double-dutch team. She's now the only black kid in an all-white public school, without even her sister Lindsey to help her through the transition. Lindsey chose to go to a prestigious private school, where she tries to fit in: "I just pretend I'm white," Lindsey tells Dee. "I talk white, I walk white." Dee is sure that's not the right thing to do; instead, she's got to find a better way, one that will let her be herself while she finds friends and earns respect. The book's firsthand account of the fear, alienation, and insecurity spurred by racial issues not only allows the reader to see the world through Dee's eyes, but also provides an avenue for discussing racism-especially the need to overcome prejudice and maintain pride.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-When 12-year-old Deirdre's father gets a new job in New York City, the family relocates from Baltimore to suburban Connecticut. There are few blacks in Wexford and the white kids whisper and stare. Deirdre's younger sister, Lindsay, copes by trying to ``act white'' and believes that joining the lacrosse team is the ticket to acceptance. Deirdre, however, pursues her interest in photography and makes a friend. Meanwhile, Lindsay is cruelly teased at school and their father is harassed by a security guard at work; strengthened by family support, they refuse to accept further abuse and stand up to their tormentors. This is a positive portrait of strong relationships with characters that are likable, if a bit too ideal. Like a TV after-school special, the conflicts are resolved quickly and easily. Nevertheless, the story will sustain readers' interest, and persistence in the face of life's obstacles and maintaining self-esteem are valuable themes.-Jacqueline Rose, Lake Oswego Public Library, OR
Hazel Rochman
Deirdre ("Dee") Willis is uncomfortable as the only black student in her suburban middle school. The white kids are wary; some are hostile. Was Dee's family wrong to leave their Baltimore city neighborhood when Dee's father landed a big new job? Will Dee fit in better if she acts white? The answers are loud and clear: acting white gets you nowhere; show them that you won't take disrespect; "stand proud" and show everybody what you've got; read the best black writers. As Jacqueline Woodson does in "Maizon at Blue Hill" (1992), Pinkney dramatizes the conflict of a smart, determined black girl who finds herself suddenly the other. The difference here is that the whole family has moved to the white suburbs, and underlying Dee's struggle is the model of her father: his determination as a child, the harassment he still receives as a company executive from a white security guard, and the firm way he deals with it. Pinkney is candid about the pain and loss as well as the achievement, and the docunovel is enlivened by characters drawn with warmth and wit. Readers will be moved by the contemporary story that makes the outsider a person.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688128326
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/1/1995
  • Pages: 112
  • Age range: 10 years
  • Product dimensions: 6.22 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.58 (d)

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