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Open the Unusual Door: True Life Stories of Challenge, Adventure, and Success by Black Americans Paperback – November 28, 2005

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (November 28, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618585311
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618585311
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.9 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,271,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up–A wonderful cross section of excerpts from published autobiographies. The 16 stories tell of challenges met and opportunities recognized and realized. Colin Powell's recollection of his introduction to the military life at City College in New York City stands alongside Russell Simmons's retelling of the turning point in his life when, at 16 years of age, he shot at and missed a fellow drug dealer. Peter Westbrook, the world-champion fencer, talks about his Japanese-immigrant mother bribing him to take fencing lessons to keep him off the Newark streets. Whoopi Goldberg discusses being on welfare and using that experience as a stepping-stone to bigger and better things. Each selection deals with that point in the life of the subject when the opportunity to make a life change offered itself. This little gem of a book should be a first purchase for public and school libraries.–Carol Jones Collins, Columbia High School, Maplewood, NJ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 8-11. Summers offers profiles written by 16 prominent African Americans who made choices that changed the paths of their lives for the better. The subjects include athletes (Derek Jeter, Peter Westbrook, and Chamique Holdsclaw), entertainers (Whoopie Goldberg, Queen Latifa, and Russell Simmons), writers (Susan Fales-Hill, Antwone Fisher, E. Lynn Harris, Lynne Duke, Michael Cottman, and bell hooks), community activists (Sister Souljah and Derek Scott King), a scientist (Neil de Grasse Tyson), and a statesman (Colin Powell). The writing styles and the themes vary greatly, reflecting each author's life experiences and personality. Several individuals dealt with coaches or mentors who pushed them almost beyond the limits of physical and mental endurance; others came to terms with difficult issues of sexuality; still others recount how discovering their life's passion, whether astrophysics or the military, focused their lives and gave them direction. These thoughtful essays will make excellent discussion starters, whether the goal is career guidance, inspiration, or knowledge of contemporary African Americans. Kay Weisman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

My wonderful, hard-working father used to call me Daughter #2. He and my mother had 4 girls before their one and only son arrived. We girls were born in Springfield, Mass. When the family moved to Hartford, Conn. my parents literally built our house. My beautiful mother - a Hunter College graduate - mixed the mortar, and my father - a Morehouse man - laid the bricks. Their passionate, productive partnership laid the foundation for my concept of how women and men should - and could - live together.
I went to the University of Pennsylvania, Yale, and the Sorbonne, where I promptly became a grad school dropout and a lifelong Francophile. In the surprising adventure that is my life, I have been a Ford fashion model, a world traveler, a teacher, a writer and editor, a lover, wife, and mother, a sister to several, a good friend to many. I define myself as an artist. Artists are charged with the special responsibility not just to speak truth but to sing it.
I believe:
*We are all related - literally.
*While politicians, terrorists, and maniacs of power strive mightily to prove otherwise, war is not the answer. Love is.
*Sing, and if you can't sing, hum.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kimberly Pauley on February 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
Every day, each of us is presented with choices. They can be very simple ones (getting up on time, paying attention in class, volunteering to do something for the boss) or complex ones (being true to ourselves, helping someone out in a life or death situation, even to kill or not to kill someone). Our choices are what make us who we are.

In Open the Unusual Door: True Life Stories of Challenge, Adventure, and Success by Black Americans Barbara Summers has collected a series of essays that explore the choices (and the consequences thereof) of some of today's leading African Americans. These are the people that you read about every day (like Whoopi Goldberg and Colin Powell) and the ones that you would only hear about if you were involved in a certain field (like Neil de Grasse Tyson, the director of a planetarium in New York or Peter Westbrook, one of the world's best fencers).

The things that they have in common with each other and with all of us are the extraordinary choices they have made and the doors they have opened for themselves. Each excerpt is a unique and interesting glimpse into their lives. I, for one, was very inspired by the great determination that they all show - from Chamique Holsclaw and Derek Jeter's dedication in sports to the intense love and devotion artists like Queen Latifah and Sister Souljah show in their chosen professions.

Whether you are black or not, young or old, interested in sports, the arts, politics...whatever - you will find a story in this book that will touch you. For me, it was the essay by E. Lynn Harris, a writer. His words really meant something to me (though I'm neither black nor gay). His truth came through his work and, as a writer, I know that feeling well and I try to capture it every time I write.
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By Rabiprieta on February 7, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great selection of true life stories by Black Americans. A must read for children of any color or race. Purchased 3 for each of my grandchildren.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The stories in this book, inspire and motivate. And that's all it takes sometimes is a little inspiration to get the ball rolling. Just to know the difficulties that some of your favorite celebrities or role models went through and how they opened the door gives you hope for your own sitiuations. Sometimes things are not what they seem, and that door that you are refusing to open, could be the door that has your opportunity behind it. Good read for teens as well as adults.
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