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My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich
Cover of My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich
My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich
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National Book Award-finalist Ibi Zoboi makes her middle-grade debut with a moving story of a girl finding her place in a world that's changing at warp speed.Twelve-year-old Ebony-Grace Norfleet has...
National Book Award-finalist Ibi Zoboi makes her middle-grade debut with a moving story of a girl finding her place in a world that's changing at warp speed.Twelve-year-old Ebony-Grace Norfleet has...
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  • National Book Award-finalist Ibi Zoboi makes her middle-grade debut with a moving story of a girl finding her place in a world that's changing at warp speed.
    Twelve-year-old Ebony-Grace Norfleet has lived with her beloved grandfather Jeremiah in Huntsville, Alabama ever since she was little. As one of the first black engineers to integrate NASA, Jeremiah has nurtured Ebony-Grace's love for all things outer space and science fiction—especially Star Wars and Star Trek. But in the summer of 1984, when trouble arises with Jeremiah, it's decided she'll spend a few weeks with her father in Harlem.

    Harlem is an exciting and terrifying place for a sheltered girl from Hunstville, and Ebony-Grace's first instinct is to retreat into her imagination. But soon 126th Street begins to reveal that it has more in common with her beloved sci-fi adventures than she ever thought possible, and by summer's end, Ebony-Grace discovers that Harlem has a place for a girl whose eyes are always on the stars.

Excerpts-

  • From the cover

    An excerpt from My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich

    Chapter 1

    These clouds are a concrete wall! The airplane won't push past the gray and blue to reach the endless black called outer space. So I have to take control.

    I press my back against the seat, push up my glasses, close my eyes, and pretend the plane is aiming for the stars and planets and the very edge of our galaxy. The seatback in front of me is the control board, and I press button after button as the plane blasts through the concrete sky and becomes the Mothership Uhura. It's star date 06.23.1984 and I'm now E-Grace Starfleet, space cadet, on a mission to rescue the great and wise Captain Fleet!

    "I'm coming for you, Captain Fleet!" I whisper to myself.

    The clouds part as the Uhura achieves Earth's orbit. Then, in just a few milliseconds, I calculate the hyperspace jump all the way out to Andromeda. This part sometimes makes me queasy because warp speed forces time and space to squeeze my whole body—along with this morning's breakfast rolling around in my belly—into an opening smaller than the eye of a needle. I've never thrown up while on the MothershipUhura. Until now.

    Someone touches my shoulder, and I blink right back into the present, back onto this American Airlines Boeing 727, headed for New York City.

    "Are you all right, honey?" the stewardess asks. "You look a little sick."

    I shake my head because my stomach is a whirling black hole ready to spew out long lost spacecraft and missing astronauts. The stewardess hands me a bag just in time and up come Momma's grits and cheese and ham and eggs.

    There's nothing more human than throwing up.

    Suddenly, I don't feel like Space Cadet E-Grace Starfleet anymore. Even in this airplane that's supposed to be "something special in the air," I'm just regular ol' Ebony-Grace Norfleet Freeman, rising seventh-grader from Huntsville, Alabama. There's nothing out-of-this-world about a too-stiff white shirt, ugly pleated skirt, lace-trimmed socks, a greasy press 'n' curl, big ol' glasses, and a tummy that feels like volcanic explosions on the surface of Mars.

    I lean against the window to look out at the concrete sky, so incredibly close to outer space. The white lady across the aisle thinks I don't notice her watching me out of the corner of her eye as she lights a cigarette. Maybe she thinks it will settle my stomach. I take off my glasses, place them on my lap, and close my eyes again.

    When has the brave and powerful Captain Fleet ever needed saving? Never ever. Not when the Sonic King threatened to destroy theUhura with a single meteor. Not when his evil little minions, the Funkazoids, led Captain Fleet on a wild-goose chase all over Planet Boom Box. And not even when Momma made Granddaddy promise to "stop filling her head with crazy stories since she'll be in junior high school soon!"

    But now I am the farthest I've ever been from Captain Fleet in my whole entire life. He has no one to help him when he faces the evil Sonic King. He is all alone as I make my way to New York City.

    "Of course the Sonic King took the opportunity to capture the great and wise Captain Fleet once and for all," I whisper to myself.

    This is where Granddaddy's stories ended before I left for a whole week in New York City. And maybe this is where they'll end forever since I am becoming a young lady and it is "time to do away with comic books and childish stories," as Momma said before I left.

    But Granddaddy doesn't always keep his promises to Momma.

    "Promise me I won't be gone for too long, Granddaddy," I had told him before I left.

    "And promise...

About the Author-

  • Ibi Zoboi is the author of two novels for young adults, Pride and American Street, a finalist for the National Book Award. She also edited the anthology Black Enough. She holds an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Born in Haiti and raised in New York City, she now lives with her family in New Jersey.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 27, 2019
    Rising seventh-grader Ebony-Grace Norfleet Freeman (or, as she prefers, Cadet E-Grace Starfleet) is obsessed with all manner of science fiction, much preferring her spacefaring internal life to the real world. When her aging grandfather, who was among the first black NASA engineers, is beset by unspecified trouble, Ebony is sent from her affluent Alabama family to stay with her working-class father in Harlem, which she calls “No Joke City.” Homesick, named “Ice Cream Sandwich” by her peers (“Chocolate on the outside, vanilla on the inside”), and sporting superhero T-shirts, Ebony finds it impossible to fit in with neighborhood girls interested in double Dutch and Dapper Dan’s. Instead, she uses her “imagination location” to create tales about rescuing her grandfather, the audacious Captain Fleet, a storyline illustrated in occasional unattributed comic strips. Ebony-Grace’s behaviors present as neurodiverse, though this is never labeled in the text. The girl eventually learns “to see a place with new eyes,” but underdeveloped subplots about her grandfather and her father’s brother hamper Ebony-Grace’s exploration of her second home. Even so, Zoboi (American Street) excels at resurrecting 1980s Harlem in her middle grade debut, expertly sprinkling in nostalgia-fueled references to break dancing, rap battles, and the rise of female MCs. Ages 10–up. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

  • AudioFile Magazine Narrator Ibi Zoboi gives emotive power to the first-person viewpoint of quirky 12-year-old Ebony-Grace. Two 1980s settings are established: Ebony-Grace's hometown of Huntsville, Alabama, where NASA is a big part of the culture, and Harlem, where she discovers the blossoming hip-hop culture when she's sent to live with her father. Once she's there, big changes take place in Ebony-Grace herself. She retreats into a richly imagined Star Trek-inspired reality, remaking her experiences into intergalactic adventures that enable her to avoid homesickness, worry about her beloved grandfather, and mockery by her peers. The science-fiction threads of this story can distract from the characters, but Zoboi's strong delivery reminds listeners of what lurks below the surface--Ebony-Grace's feelings of isolation, longing for her simpatico grandfather, and resilient vitality. S.W. � AudioFile 2019, Portland, Maine

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