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 likable journey that is sensitive to the triumphs and agonies of being a 13-year-old girl.

FRIENDS FOREVER

From the Friends series , Vol. 3

Shannon just wants to get through eighth grade in one piece—while feeling like her own worst enemy.

In this third entry in popular author for young people Hale’s graphic memoir series, the young, sensitive overachiever is crushed by expectations: to be cool but loyal to her tightknit and dramatic friend group, a top student but not a nerd, attractive to boys but true to her ideals. As events in Shannon’s life begin to overwhelm her, she works toward finding a way to love and understand herself, follow her passions for theater and writing, and ignore her cruel inner voice. Capturing the visceral embarrassments of middle school in 1987 Salt Lake City, Shannon’s emotions are vivid and often excruciating. In particular, the social norms of a church-oriented family are clearly addressed, and religion is shown as being both a comfort and a struggle for Shannon. While the text is sometimes in danger of spelling things out a little too neatly and obviously, the emotional honesty and sincerity drawn from Hale’s own life win out. Pham’s artwork is vibrant and appealing, with stylistic changes for Shannon’s imaginings and the leeching out of color and use of creative panel structures as her anxiety and depression worsen.

A likable journey that is sensitive to the triumphs and agonies of being a 13-year-old girl. (author's note, gallery) (Graphic memoir. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-31755-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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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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