An appealing, accessible civics primer.

FOR WHICH WE STAND

HOW OUR GOVERNMENT WORKS AND WHY IT MATTERS

Seekers of essential information about the basics of government and political processes will find this handbook informative.

Foster, an AP government teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, explains the functions and branches of the federal government, political parties, the electoral process, and the different responsibilities of city, state, and federal governments. Brief explanations of the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation follow along with a thorough description of the Constitution. Foster explains in simple, accessible language each article, the Bill of Rights, and other amendments. Informative discussions of the pros and cons of the Electoral College, how interest groups affect legislation, voter suppression, and gerrymandering further deepen readers’ understanding. In the chapter on the Supreme Court, Foster lists only five significant cases, which can’t help but give this section an arbitrary feel. Brown v. Board of Education is included but not Plessy v. Ferguson; Miranda v. Arizona is listed but not Gideon v. Wainwright; and Roe v. Wade is surprisingly absent. The final chapter encourages civic engagement and offers advice on how to become involved in the political process, using the March for Our Lives campaign as an example. Each spread features an appealing mix of black-and-white and full-color art, and infographics, charts, maps, and political caricatures provide further design variation. Glossary terms are highlighted in yellow. There are no suggestions for further reading—an unfortunate oversight.

An appealing, accessible civics primer. (timeline, glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-64308-4

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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IF YOU LIVED DURING THE PLIMOTH THANKSGIVING

A measured corrective to pervasive myths about what is often referred to as the “first Thanksgiving.”

Contextualizing them within a Native perspective, Newell (Passamaquoddy) touches on the all-too-familiar elements of the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving and its origins and the history of English colonization in the territory now known as New England. In addition to the voyage and landfall of the Mayflower, readers learn about the Doctrine of Discovery that arrogated the lands of non-Christian peoples to European settlers; earlier encounters between the Indigenous peoples of the region and Europeans; and the Great Dying of 1616-1619, which emptied the village of Patuxet by 1620. Short, two- to six-page chapters alternate between the story of the English settlers and exploring the complex political makeup of the region and the culture, agriculture, and technology of the Wampanoag—all before covering the evolution of the holiday. Refreshingly, the lens Newell offers is a Native one, describing how the Wampanoag and other Native peoples received the English rather than the other way around. Key words ranging from estuary to discover are printed in boldface in the narrative and defined in a closing glossary. Nelson (a member of the Leech Lake Band of Minnesota Chippewa) contributes soft line-and-color illustrations of the proceedings. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Essential. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-72637-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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A good if limited starting guide.

THE KIDS' FAMILY TREE BOOK

Author Leavitt presents all the components of doing research into family history with easy-to-follow directions for a successful project.

The volume begins with clear definitions about genealogy and why it is important to study. It moves on to give practical tips on getting started and how to map a family tree. It introduces young readers to the important documents that can assist in gathering family facts and describes the information they provide. It gives solid directions for setting up interviews with family members and how to reach out to those who are far away. This is followed up with strategies for using online resources, including warnings on how to stay safe on social media. The work of tracing ancestors from their countries of origin can be daunting, but Leavitt gives some help in this area as well and explores the role geography can play in family stories. There is good advice for collecting oral histories, and the chapter on exploring “The Way They Were” will appeal to many, as will the concluding chapters on family reunions and keeping in touch. All of this is presented in an encouraging, upbeat tone. Sidebars, charts, illustrations, and photographs add to the accessibility. The major drawback is that it assumes a known biological lineage with heterosexual parentage; there is no mention of the unique issues adopted children and nontraditional families might have in trying to put some of the instructions into practice. A short section addresses the challenges that face African-American descendants of enslaved people.

A good if limited starting guide. (resources, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2320-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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