By Eric Walters
Published by Puffin Canada, 2009
An appropriate book choice for February, the monthly home of both Valentine’s Day and Black History month, Eric Walter’s Black and White will make a lasting impression on your students. In the novel, protagonist Thomas is crazy about basketball and his best friend Steve is crazy about girls. Steve convinces Thomas to hang out after school to watch the girls' team play, and there Thomas meets Denyse, a skilled player whose abilities on the court rival his own. As Denyse and Thomas get to know each other, they find they share many common interests. However, they discover one difference, the colour of their skin, could be what tears them apart. Thomas is white and Denyse is black, and they are taken aback by the spiteful and prejudice things people say about their choice to be together.
Walters is a skilled writer who won’t make contemporary readers, who have been “saying NO to racism” for years, feel bombarded by blunt anti-racism statements. Black and White is understated in its delivery as Thomas and Denyse realize the many underlying facets of being part of an interracial relationship. Their usually easy-going families become very tense and express concern about the relationship, while siblings and friends make racial taunts. Thomas and Denyse’s frustrations will be met with empathy by young readers, as Black and White presents their unfortunate conflict and finally, their solution.
Black and White would make an excellent novel study for grade 6 or 7 classes. It is well written, provides many inspiring discussion topics and will appeal to both boys and girls. The basket-ball scenes are descriptive and the young characters are portrayed in a realistic manner. Another great read on an important topic from Eric Walters.
Check out the author’s website at: www.ericwalters.net