(Each book review from GCDenwiddie.com examines the graphics (cover and picture), plot (including the ending), diversity, themes, and overall kidability. By kidability, I mean would my liberal-arts educated, at times bougie, social-justice-seeking self recommend this book to other people? Note, spoilers are included.)
The opening scene is powerful.
Readers see the main character, Adanna, gazing at the beautiful Bahamian sea side. The beauty of the sea shore contrasts to how Adanna feels on the inside- she feels ugly (pg 6). That line hit me in the gut because I didn’t see it coming.
Adanna is in a mental state of transition at home. Her dad has been lost at sea, and she is having trouble dealing with bullying at school. One day after school, she goes to her secret place to look at the stars, a habit she developed with her father before he disappeared. She ends up meeting her celestial doppelganger who takes her to visit her Father who is living in the Cosmos. Her Father instructs her to look inside herself and don’t worry about the bullying, which she does once she returns back to earth.
Adanna and The Dog Star deals with a plot we’ve all seen before. The main character is having trouble believing in themselves and takes a journey, after which they realize they should have looked within initially to find the confidence they needed all along. Bam. Happy ending.
There could have been a better build up to Adanna realizing that she should have looked within, but I see what Mrs. Marshall is trying to do. It’ll be interesting to see what the author does with other books in this series.
What I love about this story is how the characters re-enacted a classic plotline story with diverse, refreshing characters and a healthy dose of science fiction thrown in.
The graphics definitely reflect the science theme and Bahamian setting. Some pictures seems computer generated and others don’t. Not a biggie, but I love how Adanna is absolutely gorgeous, as well as the bold Androsian print dress she wears on the cover. Note: I reviewd an e-book so the graphics could have been the result of the screen I was reading the book on.
I appreciate this book because it shows the diversity of black people, specifically in a Caribbean setting. By being set in the Bahamas, the book can be used to discuss the history of the country.
Adanna’s family is also multigenerational. She stays with her grandma, mother, and sister. Her Father has been lost at sea. The multigenerational family experience is something unique and different from the typical American family experience.
The teasing is also diverse because it’s set in the Caribbean. ‘Bony Maroney’ (pg 7 and 11) is what the bullies call Adanna, which is kinda funny as a insult, (not really) and perhaps specifically Bahamian. Even if you’ve never heard Bony Maroney as an insult before, you will definitely grasp that Adanna isn’t being talked about favorably.
Bullying – Adrian in the main guy who talks about her. Adanna has hit that stage where she’s taller than the guys in class, and Adrian picks on her because of it. I really think Adrian likes her, and this would be a prime opportunity to discuss crushes and how boys show they like girls. It cal also be a prime opprortunity to discuss what is or isn’t appropriate in a crush situationaship. A great thing about this book is despite Adanna being talked about her peers, her parents, and teachers reinforce how awesome she is.
Colorism – This book shows that colorism is all over the African diaspora, and it’s dumb no matter where it occurs.
Science/ Astromony – This theme is cleverly blended into the theme, and I definitely learned something from this book. By the time you finish, you’ll know what the Dog Star is. Now I’m no science buff, but you can tell knows Mrs. Marshall knows her stuff. You will definitely learn something about the heavens. She also explores astromony from an African perspective on pg. 19.
Family – This book contains a multi-generational family living together. Adanna’s grandmom lives with them, and her father is missing at sea. Adanna’s family dynamic provides a way to discuss different family structures and the importance of doing your part in the family no matter how it’s structured.
Self-Esteem – Adanna has to look within in order to keep going. I like how the author reinforces the idea of self-esteem by having Adanna’s celestial twin, a reflection of who she is, guide her through the cosmos to self-discovery.
Geography – The story is set in Andros, Bahamas. Geography lesson right there. The author also does a great job of writing specific Bahamia references, like the kind of dress she’s wearing Androsian (pg. 15) and the type of tea some Bahamaians drink called fresh fever grass(pg 12).
This theme also allows you to explore history. For example, Adanna’s teacher speaks with a British accent. Why would he do that? History.
Overall, I think the greatest strength of this book could potentially be its greatest weakness.
This book is perfect for teaching science and advising that you have to look within in order to believe in yourself. Now this is where things get murky. Some people might not like the fact that the book asserts that we are made out of the same things as stars. I only bring this up because I live in the heart of The Bible Belt, where people are currently debating is Islam should be taught in public schools. So take the previous sentence with a grain of salt.
I don’t think Mrs. Marrshall’s primary audience would actually care. I know I don’t.
I appreciate this book because it uses a specific, diverse setting of the Bahamas to explore a universal themes. For young people who want books to feature characters who look like them, this is a win-win for them and the author.
I think the book has a lot of opportunity to go in different directions in the upcoming books, and it’ll be interesting to see what she does with future books.
You can purchase the book here and find more info about Ms. Marshall here.
Thanks for reading and check out the next review of Yani and Shani’s Rainy Day here.
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