Thursday, April 28, 2016

#AtoZChallenge: X is for X: A Novel authors, Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon #AuthorApril

Dear Kim,

Thank you for your post yesterday. Monster is a powerful book. You wrote, "Monster will haunt you and cause you to examine your perception of your actions towards those charged with a crime regardless of the verdict." Today's #AuthorApril writers also created a novel that examines a broken system and a man's search for himself. 

X: A Novel makes her readers question the choices that Malcolm X made in his teen years as much as we question the system that was supposed to protect him, yet failed him in such monumental ways. 

X is for X: A Novel authors, Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon

Ilyasah Shabazz, Malcolm X's daughter and author, and celebrated young adult author, Kekla Magoon weave fact and fiction into this emotional story of what young Malcolm's early life might have been, from Michigan to Massachusetts to New York and back again. A few months after the book's release and a few months before the Coretta Scott King author honor for X, Kekla Magoon sat a few feet away from me talking about the book. She spoke about working with Ilyasah Shabazz and how their collaboration resulted in this intimate piece of fiction. 


This year's Coretta Scott King honor was the first of many awards that the co-authors would earn for their beautiful words. A Walter honor from the Walter Dean Myers committee for outstanding children's literature followed, and then soon after, an NAACP Image Award for Teen Fiction was awarded to the pair.

The language in X rolls off the tongue like poetry. We're treated to phrases like: "The music soars; it aches; it glows. Sour notes turn sweet, and rhythms of the night thrum deeper and deeper until every beat of the song becomes a part of me." We are treated to his nights with jazz and with girls. His nights alone in thought and his needs, which are plentiful. 

As a teacher, the book offers so much. A study of language. A study of story. And also, I hope, a conversation about choice and privilege, about change and action. Though fiction, this story lays the foundation for a study into Malcolm X's legacy.

X: A Novel has a teacher guide to accompany the book developed by its publisher, Candlewick Press. The guide offers a range of questions, not for paper-pencil testing, but to start a discussion about the book with students. To access the teacher's guide, click here.

Happy #AuthorApril!
Much Love,
Alison