Review: The Road to Paris

September 4, 2011

Grimes, N. (2006). The road to Paris. New York, NY: Putnam Pub Group.  160 p.  978-0399245374.  $15.99.  Gr. 5-7.

“I wish there were two of me, thought Paris.  That way, both of us could have the family we want.”  Nikki Grimes is a master of words, summing up all the big themes in her book in one line.  Eight-year-old Paris has been in and out of foster care since her mother’s last divorce.  Now she’s moved in with the Lincolns, a family that loves her unconditionally.  She finally has stability.  Of course, now her mother may finally have the same.  Grimes trusts her young readers.  She is never heavy handed.  Instead, she subtly balances the complexities of Paris’s family life and race.  For example, when one of Paris’s classmates wonders why the biracial Paris has blonde hair.  While there is an example of more blunt racism, Grimes examines it deftly throughout the text.  It’s refreshing to find an author who has so much faith in her young readers.
Additional Thoughts:
There is nothing I hate more than others that talk down to their readers. I love my job because teenagers aren’t stupid idiots. It’s fine if they want to read crappy crap, but when the crappy crap treats them like brainless dweebs . . . well that I cannot take. Grimes is not one of those authors. And I thank her. So the next time James Dashner or John Grisham or James Patterson release some money-grubbing piece of garbage do me a favor and pick up something by Grimes instead.
Similar Titles (from NoveList): My Name is Maria Isabel by Alma Flor Ada, How Tia Lola Came to (visit) Stay by Julia Alvarez, Iggie’s House by Judy Blume, Looking for Bapu by Anjali Banerjee, My Name is Brain Brian by Jeanne Betancourt, The Dream Bearer by Walter Dean Myers, Eagle Song by Joseph Bruchac, Honeysuckle House by Andrea Cheng, Not my Dog by Colby F. Rodowsky
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