WHEN THUNDER COMES

POEMS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS LEADERS

The Children’s Poet Laureate salutes 15 men and women, including one child, who spoke out and acted for equality and liberty, several at the cost of their lives.

The names are familiar: Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Jackie Robinson, Harvey Milk, Josh Gibson, Aung San Suu Kyi. They are less well-known: Mitsuye Endo, Helen Zia, Sylvia Mendez, Dennis James Banks, Muhammad Yunus. They are wives or mothers: Coretta Scott King, Mamie Carthan Till. One is a child, Sylvia Mendez, who wanted to attend a whites-only school in California. Three died too young on a dark road in Mississippi: Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Cheney. All receive a stirring page of rhymed verse accompanied by a single- or double-page spread painting created by one of five artists: Jim Burke, R. Gregory Christie, Tonya Engel, John Parra and Meilo So. So’s bright colors against a white background speak of affirmation and pride for Kyi, Zia and Milk, while Burke’s somber palette evokes the fear of the three civil rights workers and the “nightmare world” of Mandela’s imprisonment. Parra decorates his pages with details from the lives of Mendez, Yunus and Endo. From political activists to an astronaut and from baseball legends to a typist in a World War II internment camp, they raised their voices and sometimes their fists.

Somber and inspirational. (thumbnail sketches) (Poetry. 10-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4521-0119-4

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2012

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Ultimately adds little to conversations about race.

UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK BOY

A popular YouTube series on race, “Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man,” turns how-to manual and history lesson for young readers.

Acho is a former NFL player and second-generation Nigerian American who cites his upbringing in predominantly White spaces as well as his tenure on largely Black football teams as qualifications for facilitating the titular conversations about anti-Black racism. The broad range of subjects covered here includes implicit bias, cultural appropriation, and systemic racism. Each chapter features brief overviews of American history, personal anecdotes of Acho’s struggles with his own anti-Black biases, and sections titled “Let’s Get Uncomfortable.” The book’s centering of Whiteness and White readers seems to show up, to the detriment of its subject matter, both in Acho’s accounts of his upbringing and his thought processes regarding race. The overall tone unfortunately conveys a sense of expecting little from a younger generation who may have a greater awareness than he did at the same age and who, therefore, may already be uncomfortable with racial injustice itself. The attempt at an avuncular tone disappointingly reads as condescending, revealing that, despite his online success with adults, the author is ill-equipped to be writing for middle-grade readers. Chapters dedicated to explaining to White readers why they shouldn’t use the N-word and how valuable White allyship is may make readers of color (and many White readers) bristle with indignation and discomfort despite Acho’s positive intentions.

Ultimately adds little to conversations about race. (glossary, FAQ, recommended reading, references) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-80106-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

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A slim volume big on historical information and insight.

COME ON IN, AMERICA

THE UNITED STATES IN WORLD WAR I

A wide-ranging exploration of World War I and how it changed the United States forever.

Students who know anything about history tend to know other wars better—the Civil War, World War II, Vietnam. But it was World War I that changed America and ushered in a new role for the United States as a world political and economic leader. Two million Americans were sent to the war, and in the 19 months of involvement in Europe, 53,000 Americans were killed in battle, part of the staggering total death toll of 10 million, a war of such magnitude that it transformed the governments and economies of every major participant. Osborne’s straightforward text is a clear account of the war itself and various related topics—African-American soldiers, the Woman’s Peace Party, the use of airplanes as weapons for the first time, trench warfare, and the sinking of the Lusitania. Many archival photographs complement the text, as does a map of Europe (though some countries are lost in the gutter). A thorough bibliography includes several works for young readers. A study of World War I offers a context for discussing world events today, so this volume is a good bet for libraries and classrooms—a well-written treatment that can replace dry textbook accounts.

A slim volume big on historical information and insight. (timeline, source notes, credits) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2378-0

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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