An important story told too remotely to connect.

PEACEMAKER

Bruchac takes readers to the dawn of the Iroquois Confederacy.

Weary of continued war under the warrior chief Atatarho, Okwaho’s family and a few others have made the decision to leave the big village of the Onontaka. But despite their decision to live peacefully apart, they cannot seem to escape the continued warfare among the five nations in the region: Okwaho’s best friend, Tawis, is kidnapped by the Standing Stone warriors of the Oneida while the pair is fishing for trout. Hoping to return to the protection of the big village, Okwaho’s community sends a delegation to negotiate with Atatarho, Okwaho sneaking after to watch and witnessing the chief’s promise of more fighting and death. Then a man called Carries, from the Ganiekehgaono Nation, arrives in Okwaho’s tiny village to tell them stories of a Peacemaker who will come to confront Atatarho. Basing his tale on the real-life story of the forming of the Iroquois Confederacy, as told to him by Haudenosaunee elders, Bruchac relates it through the eyes of Okwaho. This is a vital story to tell, but by positioning Okwaho primarily as an observer, he hobbles the development of a dynamic protagonist. Still, readers who persist to hear the nested stories told by Carries and Okwaho’s clan elders will come away with a new understanding of this moment in history.

An important story told too remotely to connect. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984815-37-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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Though occasionally heavy-handed, this debut offers a vivid glimpse of the 1960s South through the eyes of a spirited girl...

GLORY BE

The closing of her favorite swimming pool opens 11-year-old Gloriana Hemphill’s eyes to the ugliness of racism in a small Mississippi town in 1964.

Glory can’t believe it… the Hanging Moss Community Pool is closing right before her July Fourth birthday. Not only that, she finds out the closure’s not for the claimed repairs needed, but so Negroes can’t swim there. Tensions have been building since “Freedom Workers” from the North started shaking up status quo, and Glory finds herself embroiled in it when her new, white friend from Ohio boldly drinks from the “Colored Only” fountain. The Hemphills’ African-American maid, Emma, a mother figure to Glory and her sister Jesslyn, tells her, “Don’t be worrying about what you can’t fix, Glory honey.” But Glory does, becoming an activist herself when she writes an indignant letter to the newspaper likening “hateful prejudice” to “dog doo” that makes her preacher papa proud. When she’s not saving the world, reading Nancy Drew or eating Dreamsicles, Glory shares the heartache of being the kid sister of a preoccupied teenager, friendship gone awry and the terrible cost of blabbing people’s secrets… mostly in a humorously sassy first-person voice.

Though occasionally heavy-handed, this debut offers a vivid glimpse of the 1960s South through the eyes of a spirited girl who takes a stand. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-33180-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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A solid, not particularly daring addition to the hybrid format for middle-grade readers, mixing drama with heart.

POSITIVELY IZZY

This reader-friendly graphic/prose hybrid explores the lives of two very different girls who have an unexpected connection.

Izzy and Brianna both, separately, navigate difficult middle school experiences. Brianna, whose story is told entirely in sequential panels, is studious, reserved, and a little lonely. Izzy, who tells her story in paragraphs broken up by illustrations, is an unreliable middle sister with a love for performance and a lot of indifference toward schoolwork. Izzy sneaks out against her mother’s wishes to perform in the school talent show, while Bri’s mother (also a teacher at her school) convinces her to fill in for a sick actor. Both girls juggle complex family dynamics, shifting friend groups, and boys in the hours leading up to their performances. The story is light but resonant for middle graders, with constant comedic asides in the illustrations. Both girls appear white (based on the color cover), with multiracial supporting casts, and both threads of the story skirt larger issues. The opening pages, in which Bri complains about labels, hint at a larger theme that recedes into the background as the two girls struggle with their interpersonal relationships. Readers primed by the back-cover blurb will spend the whole book waiting for the two stories to intersect, with a surprise reveal at the end that may call for an immediate reread.

A solid, not particularly daring addition to the hybrid format for middle-grade readers, mixing drama with heart. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-248497-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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