Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ashley and Tiana, by Jessica Dreistadt


Set in the early 80's, Ashley and Tiana are two 12 year old girls from very different worlds: Ashley is a punk rocker Jew from Greenwich Village, and Tiana is an African American hip-hop fan from the Bronx. They meet at a summer camp, both of them sort of oddball outcasts at the (it sounds like) preppy-rich-kid gathering of kids, and become close friends. The book follows the first summer of their friendship through the lens of their family traditions, personal experiences with intolerance, and most of all, the binding power of music


I actually won this book from the author, on Goodreads - it is a new book, and I think it is her first, though it's difficult to confirm that. The book LOOKS like it's being self published, but it is available from Amazon.


I should also preface this review by saying I don't think this book was really intended for me as a target audience. The writing reminded me of when we used to have reading textbooks, in elementary school - simple, straightforward, sparsely described. I think this was intentional. The impression I get from the book is that it is intended for children from about 8-12. I think my oldest son would probably enjoy it, and that it would be a great book to read in class in, say, fourth or fifth grade, when kids are just getting into their tweeny years.


However, I don't think it will be read, in mainstream schools - the book is very peculiar. Despite it's textbook style, the content has moments that some parents will have a conniption fit over - probably particularly, the grandmother who grows medicinal marijuana for glaucoma. I didn't have any moral issues with this book, but then I'm not Mr. Traditional either. From a marketing perspective, I'm not sure how the book will catch on, simply because teachers won't like to be troubled with the ramifications of these conversations,a nd parents seem to think it's trouble to have a 10 year old actually think in class, despite the fact that four years later they expect them to be qualified to understand, say, Lord of the Flies. Overall, this book would be perfect for kids who are 8-12 and are working on their reading skills, but need something with a bit more meaty content than, say, Nate the Great.


As a final note - parents who want to read something with their kids, home schoolers, etc, may find this a particularly attractive choice, because the book (while it's definitely not aimed at adults) does give the chance to connect with kids. If you liked the Clash or Blondie in the 80's, or early Hip Hop (sorry, I don't know anything about hip hop or I'd offer some names here too), this'll be a fun way to talk to your kids, and show them that, once upon a time, you were cool too. And 10 is the age when a kid should first hear 'London Calling', I think ;).

5 comments:

hamilcar barca said...

"...parents seem to think it's trouble to have a 10 year old actually think in class, despite the fact that four years later they expect them to be qualified to understand, say, Lord of the Flies.".

sadly, there are a lot of parents who want LOTF banned from the shelves of a High School library.

"the content has moments that some parents will have a conniption fit over - probably particularly, the grandmother who grows medicinal marijuana for glaucoma.".

the times, they are a-changing. California is considering legalizing - and taxing - marijuana, because they are in dire need of funds. not too long ago, no state outside of Nevada would even think about allowing casinos, let alone something as unwholesome as a lottery.

government tolerance blooms when something has the potential to generate revenue.

Amanda said...

Book banning sucks.

Marcia Mickelson said...

Where did you get this picture? It doesn't go with the book, does it? It looks like a man's hand. When I saw the picture, I automatically thought it was a book about an interracial relationship and caught my interest. I love those kinds of stories. Anyway, it still sounds like an interesting book.

Jason Gignac said...

Well, it is an interracial relationship, but between friends - I couldn't find a picture of a black and white girls' hands, unfortunately :/.

hamilcar barca said...

i have to ask - what search logic did you use to find this picture? i'm thinking "black hand, white hand" wouldn't do the trick.