Exhilarating, excellent, necessary.

STAMPED (FOR KIDS)

RACISM, ANTIRACISM, AND YOU

A remixed remix of a foundational text.

Kendi’s Stamped From the Beginning (2016) is a crucial accounting of American history, rewritten and condensed for teens by Jason Reynolds as Stamped (2020). Educator Cherry-Paul takes the breadth of the first and the jaunty appeal of the second to spin a middle-grade version that manages to be both true to its forebears and yet all her own. She covers the same historical ground, starting with the origins of anti-Blackness and colonialism in medieval Europe, then taking readers through the founding of the U.S.A. and up to the present, with focuses on pivotal figures and pieces of pop culture. Cherry-Paul does an unparalleled job of presenting this complex information to younger readers, borrowing language from Reynolds’ remix (like the definitions of segregationists, assimilationists, and antiracists) and infusing it with her own interpretations, like the brilliant, powerful, haunting metaphor of rope woven throughout. “Rope can be a lifeline,” she says, and “rope can be a weapon….Rope can be used to tie, pull, hold, and lift.” Readers are encouraged to “Think about the way rope connects things. Now think about what racist ideas have been connected to so far: Skin color. Money. Religion. Land.” Baker’s stark portraiture paces the text and illustrates key players.

Exhilarating, excellent, necessary. (timeline, glossary, further reading.) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-16758-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A rich and deeply felt slice of life.

JUST PRETEND

Crafting fantasy worlds offers a budding middle school author relief and distraction from the real one in this graphic memoir debut.

Everyone in Tori’s life shows realistic mixes of vulnerability and self-knowledge while, equally realistically, seeming to be making it up as they go. At least, as she shuttles between angrily divorced parents—dad becoming steadily harder to reach, overstressed mom spectacularly incapable of reading her offspring—or drifts through one wearingly dull class after another, she has both vivacious bestie Taylor Lee and, promisingly, new classmate Nick as well as the (all-girl) heroic fantasy, complete with portals, crystal amulets, and evil enchantments, taking shape in her mind and on paper. The flow of school projects, sleepovers, heart-to-heart conversations with Taylor, and like incidents (including a scene involving Tori’s older brother, who is having a rough adolescence, that could be seen as domestic violence) turns to a tide of change as eighth grade winds down and brings unwelcome revelations about friends. At least the story remains as solace and, at the close, a sense that there are still chapters to come in both worlds. Working in a simple, expressive cartoon style reminiscent of Raina Telgemeier’s, Sharp captures facial and body language with easy naturalism. Most people in the spacious, tidily arranged panels are White; Taylor appears East Asian, and there is diversity in background characters.

A rich and deeply felt slice of life. (afterword, design notes) (Graphic memoir. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-53889-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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A powerful resource for young people itching for change.

WOLFPACK (YOUNG READERS EDITION)

HOW YOUNG PEOPLE WILL FIND THEIR VOICE, UNITE THEIR PACK, AND CHANGE THE WORLD

Soccer star and activist Wambach adapts Wolfpack (2019), her New York Times bestseller for adults, for a middle-grade audience.

YOU. ARE. THE. WOLVES.” That rallying cry, each word proudly occupying its own line on the page, neatly sums up the fierce determination Wambach demands of her audience. The original Wolfpack was an adaptation of the viral 2018 commencement speech she gave at Barnard College; in her own words, it was “a directive to unleash [the graduates’] individuality, unite the collective, and change the world.” This new adaption takes the themes of the original and recasts them in kid-friendly terms, the call to action feeling more relevant now than ever. With the exception of the introduction and closing remarks, each short chapter presents a new leadership philosophy, dishing out such timeless advice as “Be grateful and ambitious”; “Make failure your fuel”; “Champion each other”; and “Find your pack.” Chapters utilize “rules” as a framing device. The first page of each presents a generalized “old” and “new” rule pertaining to that chapter’s guiding principle, and each chapter closes with a “Call to the Wolfpack” that sums up those principles in more specific terms. Some parts of the book come across as somewhat quixotic or buzzword-heavy, but Wambach deftly mitigates much of the preachiness with a bluff, congenial tone and refreshing dashes of self-deprecating humor. Personal anecdotes help ground each of the philosophies in applicability, and myriad heavy issues are respectfully, yet simply broached.

A powerful resource for young people itching for change. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-76686-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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