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Reaction to Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam from a Criminologist’s Point of View

By Genisis Luevanos, Taylor Hogan, Saundra D. Trujillo, and Mary L. Fahrenbruck, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico

The fourth and final installment of WOW Currents for June features Genisis and Taylor’s reactions Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam. Both women are students majoring in Criminal Justice at NMSU and read the novel as part of their study of criminology theories in Saundra’s Race, Crime and Justice course.

In their reactions, both women convey strong emotional connections to Amal and the circumstances he endures throughout the novel. Genisis questions the idea of hope and reflects on the authors’ writing that humanizes incarcerated persons. Taylor reacts to the scene where Amal realizes that the color of his skin affected how he was perceived in the courtroom. Saundra and Mary reflect on the experience of applying criminology theories to young adult literature in a criminal justice course to close out the final post for June. Continue reading

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Reaction to Juvie by Steve Watkins from a Criminologist’s Point of View

By McKensi Spears, Saundra D. Trujillo, and Mary L. Fahrenbruck, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Cover of Juvie depicting empty cells on three levels, with the bottom level holding a young woman in an orange prison jumpsuit replacing the I in Juvie.

The third WOW Currents post in June features McKensi Spears’ reaction to Juvie by Steve Watkins. McKensi, a criminal justice major at NMSU, briefly discusses Labeling Theory and then applies the theory to the novel. McKensi primarily addresses the changes in the behavior of Sadie, the main character, that seem to emerge as labels are placed upon her before and during her time in the juvenile justice system.

Saundra and Mary close out the post with their reflections about the novel and about Labeling Theory. In her reflection, Saundra cleverly connects the labels found in the novel to labels found in songs recorded by Eminem and Billie Eilish. Mary reflects on how Watkins’ personal experiences as a Court Appointed Special Advocate might have influenced the plot of the novel and the idea that discussions about Labeling Theory might facilitate readers’ deeper comprehension of the novel. Continue reading

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Reaction to Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds from a Criminologist’s Point of View

By Trevor Brohard, Saundra D. Trujillo, and Mary L. Fahrenbruck, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Using YA literature in the Criminal Justice field is a relatively new approach to exploring criminology theories. Saundra, a Criminology/Criminal Justice professor, and Mary, a Language, Literacy and Culture professor, implemented YA literature into Saundra’s Criminal Justice graduate course, Race, Crime and Justice, to learn if this unique approach could extend students’ thinking about various criminology theories as they applied the theories to YA literature.

This week’s WOW Currents features Trevor Brohard’s reaction to Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. Trevor uses a criminology/criminal justice lens to reflect on various criminology theories related to the intersections of race, ethnicity, crime, justice, cultural and structural contexts within the novel. Saundra and Mary reflect on Trevor’s reaction to close out this week’s post. Continue reading

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Reaction to Illegal. A Disappeared Novel by Francisco X. Stork from a Criminologist’s Point of View

By Kelly Weese, Saundra D. Trujillo, and Mary L. Fahrenbruck, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Cover depicts a teenage boy running across a trainyard with a train in the background, backlit by yellow sunlight.

WOW Currents for June will feature reactions to young adult literature from graduate students enrolled in the Criminal Justice Program at New Mexico State University. Using a criminology/criminal justice lens, students enrolled in Saundra’s Criminal Justice course, Race, Crime and Justice examined current young adult literature as a part of their studies. Saundra, a Criminology/Criminal Justice professor, and Mary, a Language, Literacy and Culture professor, were curious to learn if incorporating young adult literature could push students’ engagement with various theories and inspire creativity in students’ ability to apply criminology theories related to the intersections of race, ethnicity, crime, justice, cultural and structural contexts. Continue reading

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MTYT: Never Look Back

Mary Fahrenbruck and Violet Henderson, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM

In the fourth and final MTYT installment for April 2021, Mary Fahrenbruck and Violet Henderson provide their take on Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera. The Young Adult novel was the winner of the Pura Belpré Award.

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MTYT: Lupe Wong Won’t Dance

Mary Fahrenbruck and Violet Henderson, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM

In the third MTYT installment for April 2021, Mary Fahrenbruck and Violet Henderson provide their take on Lupe Wong Won’t Dance written by Donna Barba Higuera. The middle school novel was the 2021 Pura Belpré Award Winner.

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MTYT: Efrén Divided

Mary Fahrenbruck and Violet Henderson, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM

In the second MTYT installment for April 2021, Mary Fahrenbruck and Violet Henderson provide their take on Efrén Divided written by Ernesto Cisneros. The middle school novel was the 2021 winner of the Pura Belpré Award.

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MTYT: We Are Not From Here

Mary Fahrenbruck and Violet Henderson, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM

During the month of April, Mary Fahrenbruck and Violet Henderson give their take on the 2021 Pura Belpré award winners and honor books. Readers will recall that the award is named after the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré award “is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth” (ALSC, 2021).

In the first installment, Mary and Violet discuss We Are Not From Here written by Jenny Torres Sanchez. The Young Adult novel was a Pura Belpré honor book.

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WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The World’s Poorest President Speaks Out

José Mujica is no ordinary president. He lives on a small farm with his wife and three-legged dog. He drives a light blue, 1987 VW Bug. When he served as president of Uruguay from 2010 to 2015, Mujica donated 90% of his $12,000 per month salary to charities that worked to support small businesses and those living in poverty. It’s no wonder the citizens of Uruguay affectionately called him “Pepe.” But others around the world called Pepe Mujica “the world’s poorest president.” Pepe dismisses this nickname stating, “I don’t feel poor. Poor people are those who only work to try to keep an expensive lifestyle and always want more.” Readers should know that Pepe is also known for unapologetically speaking his truth even if his words cause discomfort. Continue reading

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Poet Laureate Projects from the Library of Congress

By Mary L. Fahrenbruck, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM

This week WOW Currents makes a slight change from featuring resources available from independent publishers to featuring Poet Laureate Projects sponsored by the Library of Congress. Teachers and families can access poetry projects and interactive ideas from eight Poet Laureates including Tracy K. Smith, Juan Felipe Herrera, and Joy Harjo, the current Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. Continue reading