I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina, illustrated by Stacey Robinson & John Jennings

         I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina, illustrated by Stacey Robinson & John Jennings. Forward by Bryan Stevenson. Tu Books, 2017. 9781620142639

Format: Paperback

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4.5

Genre:  Fantasy

What did you like about the book? This is a heartbreaking story about a young black teen who is murdered by a department store security guard who thinks he has a gun. Although the story is fictitious, there are elements that are familiar from recent news stories of young black people killed by white brutality. What the story does really well is showing the effect of the murder on Alfonso’s family and friends and teachers. The adults never get over their grief, and the kids are no longer carefree. All are politicized. Three quarters of the story is seen through the eyes of Alfonso after he dies, as he travels by train through time and meets the ghosts of real life black murder victims. The book is eloquent and readable; the black and white graphic illustrations are energetic and appealing. The power of the story is that it clearly fleshes out the trauma to society when innocent kids are profiled and killed based on assumptions of guilt.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Readers who are moved by the drama and relevance of Jason Reynolds’s novels would enjoy this book. Consider suggesting it as classroom reading.

Who should buy this book? Middle schools, high schools, and public libraries.

Where would you shelve it ? Graphic novel fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: November 19, 2017

This entry was posted in *Starred Review, Book Review, Fantasy, Graphic novel and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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