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Taneesha Never Disparaging

by M Lavora Perry

Fifth grade isn't exactly easy for eleven-year-old Taneesha Bey-Ross. For one thing, she's getting tired of being her best friend Carli Flanagan's personal bodyguard. Carli wears a leg brace and she's white, and when Taneesha does stand up for Carli in the face of a local bully-a giant of a girl with big fists and army boots-she's told to expect revenge. Taneesha's also running a loser's race for class president, and her love-hate interest Rayshaun has learned that Taneesha is a Buddhist, so now he's taunting her, saying that she's going to hell. Her mom may have told her that Taneesha's got heaven in her heart, but it doesn't feel that way. And just in case she forgets it, there's always Evella, Taneesha's evil imaginary twin, to remind her that she's a total failure.

This beautifully written, fun, and instantly engaging novel presents vivid characters and a timely story about the big issues that every child faces.

M. LaVora Perry's words have been tucked inside envelopes and mailed around the world because she used to write greeting cards. She is the co-author of Teen Sisters Health-A Body, Mind, and Spirit Wellness Guide for Girls of Color. Ms. Perry likes reading, writing, watermelon, and riding her purple bike. She lives with her husband and three children in Ohio

Taneesha learns what it means to be brave in the face of adversity and to honor the potential Buddha in everyone. Like Taneesha herself this book is fun, sassy and profound. - Mandala

Taneesha's voice - brave and scared, funny, defiant, and bold - is one many kids will recognize. Taneesha Never Disparaging gives us that voice, in a fast-paced portrait of a girl grounded in her Buddhist practice and loving family, coping with the daily struggles of growing up. — Kathe Koja author of Buddha Boy

Tanneesha's voice is fresh, funny, and true as a lotus blossom in a muddy pond. Readers will become familiar with Nichiren Buddhism — and the word disparaging— as Taneesha navigates her way through fifth grade as a Buddhist, daughter, and good friend to all. Taneesha Never Disparaging is a warm and welcome read amidst a sea of cynicism.—Kelly Easton author of Hiroshima Dreams

Ms. Perry is a gifted writer and through a diversity-engaging storyline, Taneesha embarks on a journey of self-discovery and learns some of life’s most important lessons – self-confidence, the value of friendship and the importance of embracing differences. – Rosalind Strickland , Senior Director, Office of Civic Education Initiatives Cleveland Clinic

A caring book about a caring character with a story kids will nod along with—-this one is a winner! — Young Adult and Kids Book Central

Taneesha Never Disparaging breaks new ground in introducing the colorful, textured and complex landscape of diversity that is truly America. —Charlise Lyles, author of Do I Dare Disturb the Universe: From Projects to Prep School

Taneesha Never Disparaging is a joy to read. LaVora Perry addresses the issues many kids face today — overworked parents, bullying, and social awkwardnees — with a fresh and positive perspective. Don't miss this beautifully and skillfully written novel.— David Richardson, book review columnist for the International Reading Association's Reading Today

Taneesha Never Disparaging addresses cultural diversity, tolerance, and bullying…(It’s) invaluable as a discussion starter…Mrs. Perry captures the true essence of an eleven-year-old…I will definitely use this novel as a Book of the Month in my classroom. I can hardly wait for the next installment in the series. — Magnolia Walker, Reading Teacher (4th and 5th Grades), Crawford County Elementary School, Roberta, GA

For its pointed, relevant treatment of complicated social issues and universal human struggles, Perry’s novel is to be commended and recommended to today’s smart, savvy young readers who are increasingly aware of the strengths and weaknesses of a diverse society and of human character. —

Taneesha Never Disparaging is an enjoyable story that communicates the struggles and joys of a pre-teen who is coming to terms with her family’s Buddhist beliefs and practices. She finds respect and friendship from unexpected sources when she applies these beliefs, turns to loved ones for support, and sticks up for what she believes is right. This book will appeal to any reader seeking a story with a strong protagonist whose honesty and stubbornness can invoke trouble as well as a satisfying resolution.—Yana V. Rodgers, Rutgers University Department of Women’s and Gender Studies

Taneesha Bey-Ross is a typical fifth-grader, facing her weaknesses and challenges in home, school and daily life. Taneesha is funny, creative, honest, and a loyal friend to Carli, a girl she befriended in first grade. Carli lives with her father and wears leg braces. Taneesha is African-American, while Carli is white. It is on their walks home together after school that they encounter their tormentor — a girl twice their size who bullies them and awakens Taneesha’s “evil twin” Evella, who embodies Taneesha’s inner doubts and becomes her inner tormentor. Through Taneesha we learn that we can conquer our fears and self doubts with humor, compassion, patience and love. In the end Taneesha realizes the bully is exactly the same as herself — with her own frailties, fears, and suffering, and that her bullying is a way of coping with this. This recognition allows Taneesha to connect with her enemy on a human level, and the two become friends. Taneesha’s Buddhist background, and the work she does on herself, makes this possible.Taneesha’s parents are Buddhist and have raised her in their faith. The family together shares the rituals, teachings, and spiritual vacations, all along the way chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo (“I devote my life to the wonderful Law of the Lotus Flower Teaching of the Buddha”). Taneesha has been practicing Buddhism since she can remember, and like most children growing up in a faith she does so out of love and respect for her parents. However as she grows into her eleventh year she begins to understand on her own the significance of her beliefs and the power of love. “In that moment, an invisible, cozy blanket wrapped around me and I realized something: It was true, I had to face life on my own. But I wasn’t alone. Even when my parents weren’t with me, their love was. And it always would be.”

M. LaVora Perry has herself been a practicing Buddhist since 1987. She was born and raised in Ohio, where she still lives with her own family. She has received numerous awards and is a contributing writer for many publications.

Perry makes Taneesha Never Disparaging an easy and engaging read. Its two hundred pages offer young readers to explore life in the company of a peer. The writing is powerful and profound, and Perry investigates and explores the inner worlds of young people with respect and compassion. She reminds us all the value of family and the wisdom of parental guidance. She reminds us of the important of the personal quest, and of the need to be heard and to make a difference in the world. This is a must-read for young people, especially in these times, where we are all struggling with conflicts, learning how to love one another in the faces of difference, and faced with the need to cherish ourselves through helping others.

— Reviewed by Hazel Colditz @

Taneesha Never Disparaging

ISBN / Product Code: 9780861715503

Format: Paperback

Length: 216 pages

Size: 188 x 125mm

Availability: In stock

Price: $A 16.95

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