Book Review: Lotus Bloom and the Afro Revolution by Sherri Winston￼
From the beloved author of President of the Whole Fifth Grade, a story about a young Black girl who summons the courage to fight against a discriminatory dress code—and stand up for herself.
Lotus Bloom just wants to express herself—with her violin, her retro style, and her peaceful vibe, not to mention her fabulous hair.
This school year, Lotus is taking her talent and spirit to the seventh grade at a new school of the arts. The one where she just might get to play under the famous maestro, a violin virtuoso and conductor of the orchestra. But Lotus’s best friend, Rebel, thinks Lotus should stay at their school. Why should this fancy new school get all the funding and pull the brightest kids out? Rebel wants Lotus to help her protest, but Lotus isn’t sure. If she’s going to be in the spotlight, she’d rather it be for her music.
Then, when boys throw paper wads and airplanes into Lotus’s afro, Lotus finds herself in trouble for a dress code violation. Lotus must choose—should she stay quiet and risk her beloved hair, or put aside her peaceful vibe and risk everything to fight back?
Inspired by real stories of Black girls fighting dress codes that discriminate against their hair and culture, beloved author Sherri Winston introduces a memorable character who finds her way to speak up for what’s right, no matter what it takes.
Can I please be friends with Lotus and Rebel and everyone (good) in their orbit? Because these kids are amazing. Lotus is psyched to be going to a magnet school for her music, but her best friend Rebel is quick to point out how unfair it is that Lotus’s new school has SO MUCH and the public schools are just left with nothing to work with. Rebel is all fired up and attends school board meetings and speaks out about the inequities she’s seeing. She wants Lotus to do the same, to take a stand, to use her time inside both schools to highlight how this unfairness plays out. But Lotus likes her new school, for the most part. She’s meeting interesting people and able to pursue her passion. But even the best places still have plenty of problems, and Lotus’s main problem is Adolpho, a boy she unseated to become first chair violin. He bullies her and throws paper airplanes into her hair. Then he gets his horrible parents involved, resulting in the school telling Lotus her glorious afro is a distraction, is against school policy, that she’s unkempt, and all kinds of other horrible things.
And Adolpho is horrible. He amps up his bullying, making memes and constantly calling Lotus “Buckwheat” and saying “otay” to her. One quick google from any readers who don’t understand that reference will make it clear just how nasty he’s being. And Lotus, who just would like to enjoy her school, hang out with her friends, and rock her own personal style, has had enough. Her path to finally feeling frustrated enough to make some waves (as her mother would say) isn’t easy—she has a best friend who believes in standing up ALL the time, a mother who would (generally) like her to just do the easy thing that doesn’t cause trouble, and a grandma who never minces words—but she works out how she feels about it all and makes herself heard. Lots for readers to discuss about racism, activism, school policies, school inequities, bullying, and standing up for what you believe in.
Review copy (finished) courtesy of the publisher
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 09/06/2022
Age Range: 9 – 11 Years
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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