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Bad Boy: A Memoir Reprint Edition
Contributor(s): Myers, Walter Dean

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ISBN: 0064472884     ISBN-13: 9780064472883
Publisher: Amistad Pr
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Binding Type: Paperback - See All Available Formats & Editions
Published: May 2002
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Annotation: From bad boy to role model, Myers recalls growing up in Harlem in the 1940s and 1950s.
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Authors, American; 20th century; Biography; Juvenile literature.
African American authors; Biography; Juvenile literature.
Children's stories; Authorship; Juvenile literature.
Dewey: 813/.54
LCCN: BL2002004193
Lexile Measure: 970
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 7-9, Age 12-14
Book type: Juvenile Non-Fiction
Physical Information: 7.25" H x 5.25" W x 1.00" (0.30 lbs) 214 pages
Accelerated Reader Info
Quiz #: 49772
Reading Level: 6.5   Interest Level: Middle Grades   Point Value: 8.0
Scholastic Reading Counts Info
Quiz #: Q25181
Reading Level: 6.6   Interest Level: Grades 6-8   Point Value: 12.0
 
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.
Publisher Description:
In his own words...

As a boy, Walter Dean Myers was quick-tempered and physically strong, always ready for a fight. He also read voraciously-he would check out books from the library and carry them home, hidden in brown paper bags in order to avoid other boys' teasing. He aspired to be a writer. But growing up in a poor family in Harlem, his hope for a successful future diminished as he came to realize fully the class and racial struggles that surrounded him. He began to doubt himself and the values that he had always relied on, attending high school less and less, turning to the streets and his books for comfort.

In a memoir that is gripping, funny, and ultimately unforgettable, Walter Dean Myers travels back to his roots in the magical world of Harlem during the 1940s and 1950s. Here is the story of one of the strongest voices in young people's literature today.


Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2001 Fall)
While the facts might make Myers's life seem a tale of hoodlum-turned-writer, the more pertinent truth evidenced here is that the writer was there all along--and the hoodlum's fists only struck out to protect him. The memoir is diffuse and confused by digressions, but many of the individual scenes have power, and the author's voice and heart are consistently heard and felt throughout. Copyright 2001 Horn Book Guide Reviews

Reviewed by Horn Book Magazine Reviews (Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2001 #4)
While the facts of the young Walter Dean Myers's life might make it seem a tale of hoodlum-turned-writer, the more pertinent truth evidenced by this autobiography is that the writer was there all along and the hoodlum's fists only struck out to protect him. Myers is honest about his juvenile delinquency and lackadaisical attitude toward school, but what is of more interest to him and us alike is that through all his fighting and school-skipping he was reading intensely and omnivorously, Byron to Erskine Caldwell to James Joyce. This intellectual stimulation had a downside: "those values that I was accepting in school being a good reader, being a person willing to explore the great ideas were actually serving to separate me from other kids my age." Myers's progression from reader to reader-and-writer could be a compelling journey, but this memoir is diffuse and confused by digressions. Many of the individual scenes have power, though, and the author's voice and heart are consistently heard and felt throughout. Copyright 2001 Horn Book Magazine

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2002 May #1)
Myers paints a fascinating picture of his childhood growing up in Harlem in the 1940s, with an adult's benefit of hindsight, wrote PW. What emerges is a clear sense of how one young man's gifts separate him from his peers, causing him to stir up trouble in order to belong. Ages 13-up. (May) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2001 April #2)
Myers paints a fascinating picture of his childhood growing up in Harlem in the 1940s, with an adult's benefit of hindsight. His previous 145th Street: Short Stories conveys a more vivid sense of day-to-day life on Harlem's streets, and readers learn little here of the effects of global events (such as WWII). What they will come away with is a sense of how a gifted young man, both intellectually and athletically, feels trapped in his own mind as he tries to find a place for himself in the world. Some insightful teachers make a huge difference in his life: a fifth-grade teacher who avails Walter of her classroom library; his sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Lasher, who recognizes the boy's leadership qualities; and a high school English teacher who spots him outside the guidance counselor's office and says, "Whatever happens, don't stop writing." Perhaps the most poignant and carefully crafted chapter involves the 16-year-old's thought process in response to his guidance counselor's question, "Do you like being black?" Throughout the volume, Myers candidly examines the complexities of being black in America, from his first exposure to slavery in a seventh grade American history class, to the painful realization in adolescence that his blond, blue-eyed best friend is invited to parties where Walter is not welcome. Other chapters sometimes feel haphazard (a foreshadowing of Walter's discovery that his father is illiterate, for example, undercuts a powerful later scene that explores this more fully). What emerges is a clear sense of how one young man's gifts separate him from his peers, causing him to stir up trouble in order to belong. Fortunately, this bad boy turned out to be a fine writer. Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2001 May)
Gr 7 Up-This superb memoir begins simply with an account of Myers's family history and his boyhood. Vivid detail makes the Harlem of the `40s come alive, from the music and children's games to the everyday struggle for survival. As Myers grows older, however, his story also grows in complexity. Soon readers are caught up in his turbulent adolescence and his slow, painful development as a writer. Even while performing poorly in school, the teen endlessly devoured great works of literature, often in secret. He also wrote, sometimes quitting out of discouragement but always beginning again. Eventually he attended school less and less often, sometimes fighting roaming gang members or delivering "packages" for drug dealers. After dropping out of high school, he enlisted in the army. Sadness and bewilderment infuse these last chapters as Myers faces a bleak future. Intellectually, he's left his family and friends far behind, but his race and circumstances seem to give him few choices. After years of menial jobs, Myers remembered a teacher's advice-"Whatever you do, don't stop writing"-and in time his persistence paid off. This memoir is never preachy; instead, it is a story full of funny anecdotes, lofty ideals, and tender moments. The author's growing awareness of racism and of his own identity as a black man make up one of the most interesting threads. Young writers will find inspiration here, while others may read the book as a straightforward account of a colorful, unforgettable childhood.-Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
 
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