Essential. (Nonfiction. 12-16)

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THE FREEDOM SUMMER MURDERS

A 50th-anniversary examination of the Mississippi murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner and their aftermath.

An introduction describes the legally entrenched racism of Mississippi and the inception of the Freedom Summer campaign. Following this, Mitchell drops readers right in with the events that led up to the murder of the three young men, evoking the hostility and fear that covered Neshoba County like a blanket. He pulls back to sketch the victims’ biographies in separate chapters, then takes readers through the investigation and the steps toward the 1967 trial that infamously failed to deliver justice. That account alone, illustrated with ample archival photographs and memorabilia, makes riveting reading. He clearly states the legal intricacies and thoroughly incorporates the players’ own voices, with often breathtaking effect: “They killed one nigger, one Jew, and a white man. I gave them all what I thought they deserved,” said the presiding judge later. Mitchell takes the story into the present day, describing how the families of the victims continue to fight for civil rights and how both locals and state officials kept the case alive, simultaneously working toward legal and emotional resolution. He leaves open the question whether now “the killing of a black mother’s son is as important as the killing of a white mother’s son”—but the country is getting closer to that goal. The book includes a map, endnotes, bibliographic essay, bibliography and index.

Essential. (Nonfiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-47725-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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UNLOCKED

School violence revisited. In Todd Strasser’s Give a Boy a Gun (2000), the school-violence story was raw and powerful. Ron Koertge’s verse treatment, The Brimstone Journals (2001), kept the story innovative and fresh. Over 10 years later, Van Cleave’s debut novel in verse is a didactic rehashing with uninspiring poetry. Andy has already been bullied for the last six years, but his situation grows worse when he starts his freshman year at the same high school where his father works as a janitor. Noticing other losers, like “equal / opportunity / angry” Sue and bookworm Nicholas, the teen turns his attention to Blake, who has undergone a metamorphosis since losing his soldier dad in the Iraqi war. As rumors about STDs, alcohol and sexual orientation travel the corridors, nothing garners as much attention as the rumor that Blake is hiding a gun in his locker. To win favor with his crush, Becky Ann, Andy steals his father’s keys to open Blake’s locker and retrieve the gun. While he doesn’t find anything suspicious in the locker, he discovers that Blake does have a firearm and final plans for his classmates. At first, Andy’s knowledge and newfound friendship with Blake gives him “rebel courage,” but soon he realizes that he has a difficult decision to make as Blake’s date for destruction approaches. A concluding teacher’s guide confirms the intended use of this tired-feeling novel. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8027-2186-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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Though there are plenty of issues worthy of attention not addressed here, this lively effort serves well as a revealing,...

EYES & SPIES

HOW YOU'RE TRACKED AND WHY YOU SHOULD KNOW

From the Visual Exploration series

The word “Orwellian” is oddly absent in this chilling look at how we now live in a world of near-constant surveillance and data collection.

Kyi examines how information and data about almost everyone are collected and used by individuals, government agencies, companies, and other organizations. She poses three questions to readers: who’s watching, and why? Where is the line between public and private? How can you keep your secrets to yourself? These questions are addressed in chapters exploring such subjects as computer surveillance, cyberbullying, data mining, and personal privacy. There is discussion of such surveillance technologies as drones, GPS, and RFID tags. Although there is little here that does not seem creepy, “Creepy Line” sidebars in each chapter highlight controversial real-life scenarios and ask readers where they would set their own boundaries. That label refers to a statement from former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who said the company’s policy was “to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.” There are also ongoing arguments posed for both increased security and increased privacy, encouraging readers to think critically about the issues.

Though there are plenty of issues worthy of attention not addressed here, this lively effort serves well as a revealing, thoughtful, and provocative introduction to a complex subject and alarming realities. (further reading, source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55451-911-8

Page Count: 140

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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