Posts Tagged 'expression'

Open Mic Night At Westminster Cemetary by Mary Amato

Genre: Fantasy

Sixteen-year-old Lacy Brink is shocked and disheartened to find herself buried in Westminster Cemetary with no memory of how she died. Things quickly get worse when she meets Mrs. Steele, who is set on enforcing all the archaic graveside rules from many years ago. These rules include no cursing, no staying out past sunrise, and performing the job assigned to you without complaint. After a rocky start, Lacy learns that if you break the rules you get a strike and once you have three strikes you are no longer allowed to get out of your graves at night, which sounds terrible. Everyone is very eager to meet Lacy because there haven’t been any new residents in many years. Sam, for example, was buried a hundred years earlier and immediately feels a connection with Lacy, but he doesn’t know if she feels the same. Edgar Allan Poe is buried in this cemetary as well, but apparently he earned his strikes pretty quickly and is no longer allowed out of his grave. Lacy’s job is the entertainment director and she announces she would like to have an open mic night. This is a new concept to the ghosts, but many are eager for something new to happen. In order for it to be successful, Lacy feels she needs to get Mrs. Steele out of the picture so everyone will feel comfortable performing. Also, it would give her a chance to open up the event to all people, even those who have earned 3 strikes. To add to her stress, Lacy’s sister has begun coming to the cemetary to try and deal with her guilt over Lacy’s death. How did Lacy die and will she be able to survive in this bizarre cemetary with its very strict rules? Will the other ghosts perform at the open mic night? Even after all this time, what have the ghosts not shared with each other about how they lived?

This unique story is set in the cemetary where Edgar Allan Poe is buried and so there are some fun interactions with him, his wife, and his mother. It becomes obvious that many of the people in this cemetary have no concept of what modern times are like and are very intrigued by this new resident. It is written using stage directions, which definitely sets the scene for this story, but may be difficult for some reluctant readers. Once the rules of the cemetary are established, the story really takes off as Lacy struggles to find her way in a place that hasn’t changed much in decades. Fans of light fantasy will enjoy this clever tale.

Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan

Genre: Realistic Fiction

# of Pages: 360 p.

Jasmine and Chelsea are best friends who attend a very liberal arts minded school where every student must join an after school club.  Jasmine is in the theater club, but quickly realizes that she will only be considered for certain parts due to her race and body type.  Chelsea, meanwhile, is in the poetry club but quits after it becomes clear that the teacher moderator is only interested in the classics, which in her opinion are old white men.  They end up deciding to create their own club called Write Like a Girl, which begins with a blog where they can write poems, post artwork, and feature women artists of all backgrounds.  There are some who object to the content early on and believe they are being too sensitive, but they push on to get their point across that they are at a daily disadvantage due to gender, race, body type, age, etc.  As they continue to find projects to express themselves they realize that there are plenty of women out there who also want their voices to be heard.  Unfortunately, the school administration does not want there to be any “incidents” that “instigate” trouble at school and threaten to ban their club.  How will Jasmine and Chelsea react to yet another group trying to silence their voices?  How do their families feel about their activist (or artivist) movements?  How do they balance all of these feelings and actions with the very real struggles that face them in their day to day lives?

This story is inspiring from the very beginning.  The way it is written the reader can easily see why the best friends would be so frustrated in their situation while at the same time the people who have all the power in their lives believe they are overreacting.  This book is very timely as there are many events that have happened this year that have really shown us all how certain people do not have the same voice in society due to race, gender, socioeconomic status, age, and so on.  Many people have been operating under the assumption that everyone in society has equal rights and that those rights have come a long way from where we were 50 years ago, but it’s apparent now that we still have a long way to go.  I also really liked how the characters stressed the importance of art in a variety of formats for truly making change and for helping them cope with their feelings and life events.  So often, writing, poetry, theater, and art are overlooked in schools and these forms of expression can be invaluable to students who need ways to share their voices and experiences.  There’s a lot to absorb in this story and many readers will find that it is wroth a second or third read. Highly recommended.


Archives