A lyrical biography from a master of the craft.

AUGUSTA SAVAGE

THE SHAPE OF A SCULPTOR'S LIFE

A renowned poet brings a Harlem Renaissance artist’s story to life.

Nelson focuses her poetic skills on Black sculptor and teacher Augusta Savage in this biography for budding historians, artists, and poetry lovers alike. Savage’s life makes for great material—she was born in Florida in 1892, a middle child with 13 siblings, into a world of racial discrimination. She was thrice married, the first time at only 15, and in 1921 moved to New York City in search of better opportunities. Savage created a number of stunning sculptures that captured elements and figures of contemporary Black life. Nelson’s arresting poetry, which is accompanied by photographs of Savage’s work, dazzles as it experiments with form and supplies elegant lines about the artist’s many triumphs and struggles. In one concrete poem, Nelson writes: “At eighteen, Gussie was widowed, with a / toddler older than her youngest siblings. / The family’s hand opened and closed / in welcome. But fingers remember.” The poems follow Savage’s life in chronological order, beginning with her birth and ending with a meditation on her striking 1959 sculpture, Bas Relief of a Female Dancer. At times the enticing verses beg for more biographical context to add weight; readers will benefit from starting with the informative afterword by Tammi Lawson, curator at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

A lyrical biography from a master of the craft. (photo credits) (Verse biography. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-29802-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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Small but mighty necessary reading.

THE NEW QUEER CONSCIENCE

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today.

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THEY CALLED US ENEMY

A beautifully heart-wrenching graphic-novel adaptation of actor and activist Takei’s (Lions and Tigers and Bears, 2013, etc.) childhood experience of incarceration in a World War II camp for Japanese Americans.

Takei had not yet started school when he, his parents, and his younger siblings were forced to leave their home and report to the Santa Anita Racetrack for “processing and removal” due to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The creators smoothly and cleverly embed the historical context within which Takei’s family’s story takes place, allowing readers to simultaneously experience the daily humiliations that they suffered in the camps while providing readers with a broader understanding of the federal legislation, lawsuits, and actions which led to and maintained this injustice. The heroes who fought against this and provided support to and within the Japanese American community, such as Fred Korematsu, the 442nd Regiment, Herbert Nicholson, and the ACLU’s Wayne Collins, are also highlighted, but the focus always remains on the many sacrifices that Takei’s parents made to ensure the safety and survival of their family while shielding their children from knowing the depths of the hatred they faced and danger they were in. The creators also highlight the dangerous parallels between the hate speech, stereotyping, and legislation used against Japanese Americans and the trajectory of current events. Delicate grayscale illustrations effectively convey the intense emotions and the stark living conditions.

A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60309-450-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Top Shelf Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

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