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Myers, Walter Dean.
New York : HarperCollins, 2002.
IL 5-8, RL 6.8
ISBN 0060291478
(2 booktalks)
Booktalk #1

Jimmy Lynch is in big trouble.  He's been charged with assault and now he's facing 6 months in a youth facility.  But he's lucked out.  The judge has assigned him to work in Duke's Barbershop instead.  Duke Wilson does more than run a barbershop.  He also mentors teenagers in trouble.  What Jimmy learns from Duke and his customers is much more valuable than he could ever have dreamed.  What can he learn about being young and Black and growing up in Harlem?  What can three old men in a Harlem barbershop possibly teach a troubled teen?

Booktalk #2

                   Growing up is hard work! Sixteen year old Jimmy learns this lesson the hard way when he finds himself charged with assault after losing his temper with a classmate. He is given the option of spending six months in a youth facility or performing community service at Duke's Barbershop in his Harlem neighborhood. Jimmy gradually discovers that a lot can be learned from the people who visit the barbershop. Duke, along with his two old cronies, Mister M and Cap, challenge Jimmy and another teen, Kevin, with real life scenarios of success and failures. Although life does not come with an instruction manual, Jimmy comes to realize that life is a series of active choices and in order to succeed, you need to have a plan. As Duke reminds him , "one of the main reasons people get themselves messed around is that they reach a point at which they becomes spectators in their own lives. People get discouraged, or sometimes they don't know what to do, and just stop being!

                    Narrated in an easy to read style through Jimmy's point of view, "Handbook for Boys" offers entertainment to even reluctant readers. As Walter Dean Myers mentions in his forward, he hopes this novel will be a great "jumping off point for many interesting conversations about success." He reminds us of the importance of mentors and supportive role models in the lives of all youths.

                    Walter Dean Myers is an accomplished author and award winner. Some of his recent titles include "Monster", winner of the Printz award, "Fallen Angels", "Slam!", "Hoops" and "Scorpions". His autobiographical account, "Bad Boy: A memoir" is a wonderful supplement to this novel. He has also written a number of biographies and historical fiction books highlighting African American. (Barbara Elkins, Hilton Head High School, Hilton Head Island, SC)

SUBJECTS:     Conduct of life -- Fiction.
                        Teenagers -- Fiction.
                        Barbershops -- Fiction.
                        Harlem (New York, N.Y.) -- Fiction.
                        African Americans -- Fiction.


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