Editors’ Picks for March 2020

10 reviews handpicked from the latest issue of Choice.

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Amplifying the curriculum: designing quality learning opportunities for English learners, ed. by Aída Walqui and George C. Bunch. Teachers College Press, 2019. 241p bibl index ISBN 9780807761205, $90.00; ISBN 9780807761199 pbk, $29.95; ISBN 9780807776858 ebook, $29.95.

As more and more English learners attend US schools, the need to provide them with challenging, high-quality, rigorous instruction in a supportive learning environment becomes increasingly important. This book works from the premise that curriculum can be amplified, rather than simplified, based on the student’s abilities to meet this need. Accordingly, language for English learners can be enhanced rather than reduced and simplified. Covering both theory and practice, the book is divided into 10 chapters. Early chapters cover topics such as defining quality instruction, designing amplified lessons, and developing teacher expertise to better serve English learners. These are augmented by later chapters focusing on ways to apply the amplification approach to specific subjects, including English/language arts (through Shakespeare’s Macbeth, as an example), science (through study of disease transmission), mathematics (through slope), and social studies (through mapping). The text also considers how to incorporate this process with students at level 1 and up in their English language development, providing appropriate context for both beginning and experienced teachers. This is an excellent work to pair with more practice-oriented books such as Carol Ann Tomlinson’s How to Differentiate Instruction (2017). Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty; professionals. —S. T. Schroth, Towson University

Boyd, Ashley S. Reading for action: engaging youth in social justice through young adult literature, by Ashley S. Boyd and Janine J. Darragh. Rowman & Littlefield, 2019. 202p bibl index ISBN 9781475846669, $60.00; ISBN 9781475846676 pbk, $30.00; ISBN 9781475846683 ebook, $28.50.

Boyd (Washington State Univ.) and Darragh (Univ. of Idaho), experts in the field of young adult literature, have created a text enabling readers to uncover social justice themes in young adult literature, a rare accomplishment for the discipline. Each of the book’s 12 chapters is devoted to a different social justice issue, including bullying, poverty, mental health, police brutality, sexual orientations and stigmas, and ecojustice, relating the given topic to a specific novel that treats the same issue. Each chapter also incorporates suggested teaching strategies, ideas for social action, supplemental resources, and substantial references. This reader-friendly volume supports the notion that what is taught in the classroom should be applied outside school as well and encourages action, by teachers and others, to tear down barriers to inclusiveness in the classroom. Reading for Action offers teaching techniques designed to resist and disrupt the status quo while remaining within the accepted boundaries of contemporary classrooms, making it a valuable resource for both current teachers and those preparing to become teachers. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and graduate students. —A. W. Petersen, emeritus, Buena Vista University

Bronner, Simon J. The practice of folklore: essays toward a theory of tradition. University Press of Mississippi, 2019. 359p bibl index ISBN 9781496822628, $99.00; ISBN 9781496822635 pbk, $35.00.

Perceiving the tension between tradition and modernization, especially accelerated in the digital age, eminent folklorist Bronner (Univ. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee) argues that commercial mass culture will come to displace traditional culture, presenting this volume to address the resulting existential, folklore-related issues. The book is divided into three sections, focusing on theory, case study data, and an analysis and application of that data, respectively. In the four case studies, including, for example, a mini-ethnography about the boogieman and another about the relationship between “wild-child narratives” and school shootings, Bronner explores the psychocultural meanings and the adaptive fluidity arising from contemporary folk beliefs and behaviors. Always questioning how and why people practice folklore, he asks: Why do people traditionalize? What are the complications and implications of our digitized era regarding how people communicate? He highlights new directions of folklore in everyday life, with a vitality and adaptive potential for application and integration within mainstream contemporary culture, describing a new “hyper” community of folkloric practice intersecting with the digital world. Raising stimulating topics, this book is highly recommended for folklore and anthropology scholars. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. —P. Passariello, emerita, Centre College

Derr, Jennifer. The lived Nile: environment, disease, and material colonial economy in Egypt. Stanford, 2019. 244p bibl index ISBN 9781503608672, $85.00; ISBN 9781503609655 pbk, $26.00; ISBN 9781503609662 ebook, contact publisher for price.

The Nile River has sustained Egypt’s material economy for millennia, a role Derr (Univ. of California, Santa Cruz) argues has continued into the colonial era, though subject to external considerations. Egypt’s integration into the British imperial economy as a producer of sugar and cotton, combined with the poverty of its landowning class, reshaped the material culture of the river. European interests acquired productive tracts and used them to cultivate cash crops, and the 1902 completion of the British-backed Khazan Aswan (Aswan Low Dam) replaced the Nile’s natural annual flood with new perennial irrigation schemes. As greater acreage was cultivated, the fellaheen laboring in saturated soil experienced increased incidents of schistosomiasis and other parasitic maladies. Unable to avoid conscription, onerous taxation, and corvée obligations, they bore the brunt of the new material economy. The British endeavored to improve these laborers’ conditions, focusing on mitigating the parasitic ravages, but alleviation proved elusive. By then, the engineered allocation of water resources had altered the basis of the Egyptian economy, and of society as well, a path that Derr notes found fulfillment in the post-colonial era with the construction of the Aswan High Dam (1970). Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty; professionals. —S. L. Smith, California State University, Fullerton

Japanese American millennials: rethinking generation, community, and diversity, ed. by Michael Omi, Dana Y. Nakano, and Jeffrey T. Yamashita. Temple, 2019. 301p bibl index ISBN 9781439918241, $110.50; ISBN 9781439918258 pbk, $39.95; ISBN 9781439918258 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Editors Omi (Univ. of California, Berkeley), Nakano (California State Univ, Stanislaus), and Yamashita (Ph.D. candidate, Univ. of California, Berkeley) bring together research on Japanese American millennials in this collection, beginning with an overview of Japanese American studies and the diversity within the Japanese American community. Chapters demonstrate the complex and unique nature of this group by exploring the multiple facets of Japanese American millennials’ lives, including cultural identity, LGBTQ identity, community, culture, spirituality, and religion among various Japanese American communities in both the US and Japan. The volume is divided into five sections: “Sustaining Community,” “Spiritualities,” “Redefining Ethnicity,” “Intersecting Identities,” and “Crossing and Bridging Boundaries.” Each provides analysis, research, and commentary on the impact of ethnicity in shaping this group’s multitudinous perspectives and relationships with family and friends, while navigating multiple identities. Little has been written about the experiences of younger Japanese American generations, so this volume fills the gap, exposing the diversity and intricacies of Japanese Americans. It will be a valuable resource for audiences interested in Asian American studies, particularly Japanese American millennials. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels. —T. Chan, MIT Libraries

Montgomery, Mary. Hired daughters: domestic workers among ordinary Moroccans. Indiana, 2019. 244p bibl index ISBN 9780253041005, $80.00; ISBN 9780253041012 pbk, $36.00; ISBN 9780253041043 ebook, $35.99.

This ethnography explores the changing perceptions and roles of female domestic help in Morocco today. It is an in-depth examination of one aspect of the domestic economy, namely housework, and the organization of domestic service by women in the household. Traditionally in Morocco, as was the case in most Muslim societies, when young girls were brought from rural areas to work as domestic laborers in urban households, they were considered to be “daughters of the household” where they usually lived until they married. This fictive kinship served to protect the reputation of the girls as it placed them under the patronage of the household. Viewed as members of the house, however, the girls were constrained by the rules of their new home. This traditional arrangement between poor rural families and wealthier urban ones is today waning as female domestic workers increasingly express their desire to maintain their freedom of choice and movement. Directly, or through employment brokers, more and more women are negotiating daily or monthly wages and living in their own households. This transformation is sensitively explored in Montgomery’s painstakingly researched book. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels. —A. Rassam, emerita, CUNY Queens College

Racial inequality in New York City since 1965, ed. by Benjamin P. Bowser and Chelli Devadutt. SUNY Press, 2019. 406p bibl index ISBN 9781438475998, $95.00; ISBN 9781438476018 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Two events stand out in the history of New York City that set the tone for racial inequality in the decades that followed. First, in 1783 when the retreating British army abandoned the city, thousands of African slaves freed by the British left rather than risk reenslavement. Then, in 1857 the building of Central Park required the removal of Seneca Village, the city’s first free black community. Informed by a desire to explore the intersection of race and class in New York City, this volume covers topics ranging from segregation and gentrification to housing and health disparities to economic and political participation, presented thoughtfully and instructively to illuminate the extent of inequality. Through 15 chapters, scholars, policy experts, and activists recount both the good and bad events relating to race that have taken place since 1965, culminating with insights into policies and practices that offer a path toward greater equality. While the book focuses on New York City, it serves as a primer for the whole country, which is currently struggling to understand its racial history and to define a path forward. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty; professionals. —D. Fasenfest, Wayne State University

Solinger, Rickie. The abortionist: a woman against the law. 1st paperback ed. California, 2019. 271p bibl ISBN 9780520322820, $27.95.

An independent historian, Solinger has consistently produced groundbreaking books on abortion, adoption, and reproductive politics for over two decades. In this updated 25th-anniversary edition of her classic work The Abortionist (1994), she recounts the biography of abortion provider Ruth Barnett as a means to present a broader history of abortion in the pre–Roe v. Wade years. In the first half of the 20th century, Solinger argues, abortionists like Barnett were able to provide safe abortions in sanitary environments in part because their practices, albeit illegal, were tolerated as a necessary service. When politicians, legal authorities, and journalists began to expose and crack down on abortion during the prosperous postwar years, the women who sought out abortions and the largely female abortionists who provided them became subject to scrutiny, scorn, and prosecution, putting their lives and livelihoods at risk. This updated edition includes a new final chapter that contextualizes the current state of abortion rights, reproductive politics, and new efforts to undermine and overturn Roe v. Wade. This is essential reading for students of American history and women’s, sexuality, and gender studies. Summing Up: Essential. All readership levels. —L. J. Martin, Penn State University, Berks

Wilkins, Annabelle. Migration, work and home-making in the city: dwelling and belonging among Vietnamese communities in London. Routledge, 2009. 180p bibl index ISBN 9781138577176, $140.00; ISBN 9781351267687 ebook, $54.95.

Wilkins (Univ. of Manchester, UK) presents an ethnography of a relatively underresearched community: Vietnamese migrants in East London. Featuring the personal stories of a diverse group of Vietnamese, the book includes individuals who arrived as refugees in the 1970s as well as those who migrated for work or higher education in recent years. It covers the spectrum of their experiences, exploring the links between home, work, and migration in the everyday lives of these migrants. Participants’ narratives constitute the best part of the book, revealing the migrants’ profound cultural dislocation, their daily social relations, their struggles to find work, and their memories of home in Vietnam. Wilkins also enlivens her ethnography with photos of Vietnamese businesses, home possessions, and religious and spiritual objects; unfortunately, some of the photos are of poor quality, even blurry. In all, Migration, Work and Home-Making in the City reveals how Vietnamese migrants’ ideas of home change over time in response to their changing circumstances, and how home-making is constrained by power inequalities that exist within homes and also by the uncertainties of immigration policies, insecure housing, and precarious work. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers through upper-division undergraduates; professionals. —Y. L. Espiritu, University of California San Diego

Williams, Thomas Chatterton. Self-portrait in black and white: unlearning race. W. W. Norton, 2019. 174p ISBN 9780393608861, $25.95.

Williams, who writes for the New York Times Magazine, critically analyzes his experiences with “blackness” and “whiteness,” both as a personal journey and in the context of fellow writers and theorists who have written about race. Through rich autobiographical considerations of race, which consider global and American sociohistorical contexts, the author problematizes categories such as “black” and “white” as well as the more recent project of critical mixed race studies. While engaging with his vivid descriptions, readers are treated to Williams’s trenchant theoretical and perspectival analysis of the uncomfortable, yet typical, daily struggles non-white people experience. The author calls for acknowledging race and racism and celebrating positive cultural outcomes of centuries of oppression while finding ways people can move forward without often-immobilizing racial constructs defining them. This book could be used in the disciplines of Africana studies, critical race studies, social justice studies, contemporary literature, and sociology. It could be paired with theorist works mentioned in the text or with earlier literary pieces, such as James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912) or Richard Wright’s Native Son (1939). Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty; professionals. —C. L. Lalonde, Paul Smith’s College