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New and noteworthy books about, by and for African Americans

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Sacred Bond: Black Men and Their Mothers by Keith Michael Brown (Little, Brown & Co., $25)

There’s nothing wrong with being a mama’s boy. That’s how author Keith Michael Brown and the 36 black men he interviewed for his book Sacred Bond: Black Men and Their Mothers feel anyway. But your definition of a mama’s boy will definitely change after reading this book.

Brown has collected very personal and poignant stories about the relationships black men-young and old, ordinary and famous-have with their mothers. Some of the stories are joyful, some painful, but all are triumphant in their own way. Brown and his subjects describe the complex and lasting impact mothers and mother figures have on their sons, and how these relationships have influenced their lives and attitudes.

A Dream Deferred: The Second Betrayal of Black Freedom in America by Shelby Steele (HarperCollins, $24)

Are we, as a people, free yet? And should we wait to be given back our freedom or should we reclaim it? These are just two of the questions that author Shelby Steele tackles in his book, A Dream Deferred: The Second Betrayal of Black Freedom in America.

According to Steele, the first betrayal of black American freedom was segregation. He names post-civil rights era liberalism-or what he calls redemptive liberalism-as the second.

In four thought-provoking essays, Steele examines, among other topics, racial identity, victimization and diversity, and the interpretation and resolution of these issues vis à vis race and democracy.

Black Books Galore! Guide to Great African American Children’s Books by Donna Rand, Toni Parker and Sheila Foster (John Wiley & Sons, $15.95)

At last, the perfect tool for parents and educators alike. This reference guide is chock-full of over 700 titles for African American children. Put together by three mothers, it contains book listings for kids from infancy to the teen years. The guide is interspersed with photos and quotes from African American authors and illustrators and includes brief excerpts from various books.

The Last Safe House: A Story of the Underground Railroad by Barbara Greenwood (Kids Can Press, $9.95)

If you’d like some entertaining, historically relevant reading for your eight- to 12-year-old, Barbara Greenwood has written a book for you. The Last Safe House is a fictional story about the Underground Railroad told through the eyes of a young black girl and a young white girl. The story is fictional, but the details of the Underground Railroad are real-right down to the area in Canada where the story is set to the routes escaped slaves took to get there.

Greenwood uses various first-person accounts of escaped slaves and other historical texts to create an authentic background. Illustrator Heather Collins also pays close attention to details of the period to create historically accurate drawings. The two bring the Underground Railroad vividly to life for today’s youngsters.

The African American Book of Values: Classic Moral Stories edited by Steven Barboza (Doubleday, $29.95)

In keeping with the oral tradition of our ancestors, Steven Barboza has compiled over 100 fictional and true stories, poems, songs and adages in The African

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