Bronx Masquerade

Bronx Masquerade

by Nikki Grimes


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When Wesley Boone writes a poem for his high school English class, some of his classmates clamor to read their poems aloud too. Soon they're having weekly poetry sessions and, one by one, the eighteen students are opening up and taking on the risky challenge of self-revelation. There's Lupe Alvarin, desperate to have a baby so she will feel loved. Raynard Patterson, hiding a secret behind his silence. Porscha Johnson, needing an outlet for her anger after her mother OD's. Through the poetry they share and narratives in which they reveal their most intimate thoughts about themselves and one another, their words and lives show what lies beneath the skin, behind the eyes, beyond the masquerade.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425289761
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 08/08/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 34,045
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.49(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Nikki Grimes is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of dozens of children’s and young adult books as well as a poet and journalist.
Among the many accolades she has received are the Golden Dolphin Award (2005),the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children (2006), the Coretta Scott King Award (2003) for Bronx Masquerade, and the Horace Mann Upstanders Award (2011) for Almost Zero: A Dyamonde Daniel Book. Additionally, her book Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope (illustrated by Bryan Collier) was a New York Times bestseller, and she was acknowledged as an NAACP Image Award Finalist in 1993 for her book Malcolm X: a Force for Change. Her books Meet Danitra Brown (illustrated by Floyd Cooper), Jazmin's NotebookTalkin' About Bessie (illustrated by E.B. Lewis), Dark Sons, The Road to Paris, and Words with Wings were each awarded Coretta Scott King Honors. Visit her online at

Read an Excerpt

Wesley “Bad Boy” Boone

I ain’t particular about doing homework, you understand. My teachers practically faint whenever I turn something in. Matter of fact, I probably got the longest list of excuses for missing homework of anyone alive. Except for my homey Tyrone. He tries to act like he’s not even interested in school, like there’s no point in studying hard, or dreaming about tomorrow, or bothering to graduate. He’s got his reasons. I keep on him about going to school, though, saying I need the company. Besides, I tell him, if he drops out and gets a J.O.B., he won’t have any time to work on his songs. That always gets to him. Tyrone might convince everybody else that he’s all through with dreaming, but I know he wants to be a big hip-hop star. He’s just afraid he won’t live long enough to do it. Me, I hardly ever think about checking out. I’m more worried about figuring what I want to do if I live.

Anyway, I haven’t had to drag Tyrone off to school lately, or make excuses for not having my homework done, because I’ve been doing it. It’s the Harlem Renaissance stuff that’s got us both going.

We spent a month reading poetry from the Harlem Renaissance in our English class. Then Mr. Ward—that’s our teacher—asked us to write an essay about it. Make sense to you? Me neither. I mean, what’s the point of studying poetry and then writing essays? So I wrote a bunch of poems instead. They weren’t too shabby, considering I’d only done a few rap pieces before. My favorite was about Langston Hughes. How was I to know Teach would ask me to read it out loud? But I did. Knees knocking like a skeleton on Halloween, embarrassment bleaching my black cheeks red, eyes stapled to the page in front of me. But I did it, I read my poem.

Guess what. Nobody laughed. In fact, everybody thought it was cool. By the time I got back to my seat, other kids were shouting: “Mr. Ward, I got a poem too. Can I bring it in to read?”

Teach cocked his head to the side, like he was hearing something nobody else did. “How many people here have poems they’d like to read?” he asked. Three hands shot up. Mr. Ward rubbed his chin for a minute. “Okay,” he said. “Bring them with you tomorrow.”

After class Teach came over to my desk. “Great poem,” said Mr. Ward. “But I still expect to see an essay from you. I’ll give you another week.” So much for creative expression.

Long Live Langston by Wesley Boone
School ain’t nothin’ but a joke. My moms don’t want to hear that, but if it weren’t for Wesley and my other homeys, I wouldn’t even be here, aiight? These white folk talking ’bout some future, telling me I need to be planning for some future—like I got one! And Raynard agreeing, like he’s smart enough to know. From what I hear, that boy can’t hardly read! Anyway, it’s them white folk that get me with all this future mess. Like Steve, all hopped up about working on Broadway and telling me I should think about getting with it too. Asked me if I ever thought about writing plays. “Fool! What kinda question is that?” I said. He threw his hands up and backed off a few steps. “All I’m saying is, you’re a walking drama, man. You got that down pat, so maybe you should think about putting it on paper.” When that boy dyed his hair, I b’lieve some of that bleach must’ve seeped right into his brain. I grind my teeth and lower my voice. “Boy, get out my face,” I tell him. He finally gets the message and splits. I’m ticked off that he even got me thinking about such nonsense as Broadway.

Excerpted from "Bronx Masquerade"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Nikki Grimes.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"All of the [students], black, Latino, white, male, and female, talk about the unease and alienation endemic to their ages, and they do it in fresh and appealing voices. Rich and complex."- Kirkus Reviews

"As always, Grimes gives young people exactly what they're looking for-real characters who show them they are not alone." - School Library Journal

"Readers will enjoy the lively, smart voices that talk bravely, about real issues and secret fears. A fantastic choice."-Booklist

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Bronx Masquerade 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 130 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first book of Nikki Grimes' that I have ever read and I loved it. "Bronx Masquerade" gives teens like me, a whole new perspective on not only the importance and enjoyment of literature and poetry but also the identities of individuals in a diverse society. The fact that this book is writen by teen's thoughts about themselves and others and the pomes they create in response to these thoughts really capture your attention. Each of the 18 students learns something about himself that changes his perspective about his future. A young black teenager who sees no future for himself in a community where guns and violence have taken over suddenly realizes he has a passion for words. A chubby teenage girl notices that her friends no long pay attention to the way she looks because they have become so immersed in her beautiful poetry. All of this comes from writing poems and reading them in front of the class on what their teacher calls Open Mike Friday. The poems these students "write" are so creative and really make this book quite unique. I could not put it down because I was so eager to read how these people living their everyday lives in the slums, were going to write about their lives in the ghetto. This book shows us that they are allowed to different and they are allowed to be smart. It's ok to want to read and do well in school. I think that any teen that is interested in poetry, or rap for that matter, even in the slightest should read this book. I am truly inspired.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm in loved with this book. My name is Ny'Dya and one of my teachers told me to read this book, it's really good but it's also hard to read, For my level. The poems sometimes makes you want to cry. They are so good, they tell you what's going on with them and why is it happening. I don't like to read to be for real, but this book changed my mind about that!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Juu r so immature its sad that u talk like a childu stupid homie :/
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was different from most books I read because its written in different pov's and poetry. But I enjoyed it because it was about how you can rise above your problems, even if your problems are serious ones, and change your circumstances and your life.
Kaminirroane14 10 months ago
Recently I have been reading the “Bronx Masquerade” by Nikki Grimes. In this book, teens find their true selves and battle the challenges life puts them through by using poetry. It’s a very thrilling and heartfelt novel. It shows that everyone can come together and that diversity is okay because at the end of the day we can all relate to each other in some way. I would recommend this book to people who feel like they are stuck because this could possibly be a form of inspiration for them and they can also get a learning experience from it. Although the book may be a little confusing trying to wrap your head around all the different characters within in, you can still understand its meaning and it’s message it’s giving readers. I could really connect with the character “Janelle Battle”. I felt like me and her were the same person because she experiences the same things that I experience in everyday life. In the end, I really enjoyed this book and I would absolutely read it again.
eekazimer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The structure of this novel is unique. Each ¿open mike¿ Friday shows the passing of a week, and there are 26 weeks featured. Tyrone, a student who wants to write rap, begins and ends the narrative of the book. He goes from being ready to check out of school to anticipating the next school year. His viewpoint on his fellow students is interspersed through the book like a thread that keeps this patchwork of poems together. Each student featured on ¿open mike¿ is introduced in a previous short chapter written in their viewpoint. So the limited third person viewpoint, changes from student to student depending on whose poem are read on ¿open mike¿ Fridays. Readers learn about the student poet by their reaction to other student poems and a chapter in their viewpoint where short scenes capture their fears, goals, and struggles. Through poems that show their vulnerabilities, these students form a close bond with each other. The book demonstrates the power of poetry to transform.
DayehSensei on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel reads like a collection of short stories and poems written by a variety of high schoolers in an English class in the Bronx. Nikki Grimes' characters are incredibly realistic and their concerns are true to life. This book will be a hit with students ages 12 and up-- especially urban youths. This would be a great book to read before introducing a poetry unit or slam poetry event.
mrcmyoung on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A diverse group of students in a Bronx high school take turns narrating their stories in first person and sharing their poetry for their English class' Open Mike Fridays.
stephxsu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow. I wasn't expected to be so moved by this short, poem-filled novel. Containing poems interspersed with short narrative chapters, we get surprising insight into all of the characters who write and perform their poems. It's a little idealistic, maybe, but I was inspired by the idea that poetry could bring a whole classroom full of different, biased, and damaged students together. A very powerful read.
MissTeacher on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A beautiful rhythm of person and poetry, following the emergence of understanding in a mixed class of high-schoolers in the Bronx. Each of these students--black, white, Puerto Rican, Italian, and all shades in between--believe themselves to be alone, some more than others. Each feels not quite right, or outcasted, or ugly, or worthless. Yet when their English teacher starts to set class time aside for weekly poetry slams, the kids aren't afraid to let themselves out on paper. Through lines and beats, each student finds a means of expression which begins to connect student to student. Suddenly, people aren't feeling as alone. Now, people realize just how wrong their judgements of their classmates have been. Suddenly, they find a family...una familia...a place where they are understood, for better or worse.
jesanu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a very lyrical book that follows the lives of several high school students living in the Bronx. The book introduces the poets of the Harlem Renaissance and breaks down racial and ethnic stereotypes.
Omrythea on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Inspiring, heart-breaking, intriguing and funny. The characters introduced through their poetry and vignettes are developed in an interesting way. One of the better novels that uses prose as the medium. There are an awful lot of characters to keep track of, but they inter-relate in interesting ways.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Someone bought this for me and i dont know how i got it. Weird. Otherwise, somewhat a good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Daaaaamn tyrone do me like tht
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is about students writting poems and reading them on open mike Fridays. Tyrone tells his feelings about other students when they're done reading their poems. My favorite episode is when tyrone speaks his mind about everything. Tyrone tells his feelings about every person that makes a poem. (If you like this book you will like, Planet Middle School).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bronx Masquerade has all different things to make a teen book like good details and explains what characters look like. Everyone in this book has problems from parent problems to school bullies. They tell about their life then follow up by reading a poem. Sterling S. Hughes hugs a bully then the bully goes off. Sterling is a part of Mr.Wards English class. If you like Miracles Boys, you will like this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is really good i like it
Aaron0596 More than 1 year ago
This book was not what I had expected. I thought that this book would be about drugs and violence. And im glad that it wasnt, I actually enjoyed certain things about the book. And the book taught me a couple of things about myself, I should be more accepting and open to hearing about other peoples lives. Because sometimes I can be closed off, I did like this book and I highly recommend it for others as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thus is a really goos book. It is really good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the book more than I thought I would. I do not really like Tyrone, he always has something to say. But, everyones just trying to fit in, I love the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago