[E] The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer

5 Apr

This science fiction book set in a futuristic Africa is a Newbery Honor book from 1995, but the future doesn’t feel too dated. It features a brother and sister (with their younger brother) as the main characters, so it easily appeals to boys and girls. I am always on the lookout for books that can appeal to both genders because I rarely have book club classes that are just boys or just girls, so I want to make sure that everyone can enjoy the book. I also try to switch off between male and female protagonists if I can.

I remember my sister and I both reading this book and enjoying it a lot through at least middle school. My copy of this book is pretty battered from the re-readings (and I think just the time it spent in my bag). I did re-read it recently because I was thinking about using it for a class (although we ran out of book club time because we needed to do test prep…). Even so, it took me a while before I could remember if the main characters were black or white.

This struck me because I was just reading this article about how characters are “white until proven black,” and I saw that I shared the same stereotypes in my reading. Most of the books that I read while growing up had white protagonists, so my natural association with books turned into one that is primarily white. I’m trying to counter that by reading (and re-reading) as many diverse books as possible, but there is still that part of me that defaults to white.

(Going further off topic, just the other day, my Korean American students–boys and girls–failed to notice that the main character of a short scene was female because they didn’t know her name, even though she was referred to with female pronouns throughout the passage.)

The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm has mystery, action, likable characters, and bogeymen. Great for middle grades and up. It also deals with issues about race, gender, prejudice, and acceptance.

And just in case you were wondering, the main kids in the story are black, although a few key white characters (including the Ear from the title) help describe race relations in the society in the book.

This post is my Blogging from A to Z entry for the letter E. 


6 Responses to “[E] The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer”

  1. blissflower1969 April 5, 2012 at 8:35 am #

    I love that you are highlighting books that I haven’t heard about. I don’t know if they’re actually lesser known, or if I’m just not enough in the YA loop, but you are giving me plenty of books to add to my “Want to Read” list.

    Thank you!

    • nita April 5, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

      I’m glad you’re enjoying them! My original idea for this blog came from my cousin, who wanted recommendations for more recent books for her kids outside of the classics. I went through a lot of book lists last year and borrowed a bunch of books from the library, so I’m using as many as possible for A to Z as I can.

      That said, this book is at least on the Newbery Honor books list, but it was so long ago that not very many people remember it, unless they were like me and bought it from their school book order… I ♥ Scholastic!

      • blissflower1969 April 6, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

        I still ❤ Scholastic. I swear, in the years my child has been getting those damn forms, I think I've bought more books for ME than I've bought for her.

  2. The Mommy Patient April 5, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    Hi. I’m stopping by from the A-Z challenge. I’ve never heard of this book but it sounds interesting. I bet you are having no problem keeping up with the challenge since you are such an avid reader and writer! Good luck!

    • nita April 5, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by! I actually made sure to do a bunch of posts ahead of time because I knew I would be busy. I love how I can skip a day, and they still go up right on schedule (I’ve never had a reason to schedule blog posts before). Good luck to you, too!


  1. Newbery Medal Award Winners, 1922-present « nita's books - December 11, 2012

    […] Megan Whalen Turner (Greenwillow/Morrow) ♥♥ Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman (Clarion) The Ear, the Eye and the Arm by Nancy Farmer (Jackson/Orchard) ♥♥ The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi […]

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