A beautiful, powerful reflection on a tragic history.


In spare verse, Lowry reflects on moments in her childhood, including the bombings of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. 

When she was a child, Lowry played at Waikiki Beach with her grandmother while her father filmed. In the old home movie, the USS Arizona appears through the mist on the horizon. Looking back at her childhood in Hawaii and then Japan, Lowry reflects on the bombings that began and ended a war and how they affected and connected everyone involved. In Part 1, she shares the lives and actions of sailors at Pearl Harbor. Part 2 is stories of civilians in Hiroshima affected by the bombing. Part 3 presents her own experience as an American in Japan shortly after the war ended. The poems bring the haunting human scale of war to the forefront, like the Christmas cards a sailor sent days before he died or the 4-year-old who was buried with his red tricycle after Hiroshima. All the personal stories—of sailors, civilians, and Lowry herself—are grounding. There is heartbreak and hope, reminding readers to reflect on the past to create a more peaceful future. Lowry uses a variety of poetry styles, identifying some, such as triolet and haiku. Pak’s graphite illustrations are like still shots of history, adding to the emotion and somber feeling. He includes some sailors of color among the mostly white U.S. forces; Lowry is white.

A beautiful, powerful reflection on a tragic history. (author’s note, bibliography) (Memoir/poetry. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-12940-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Rich, layered, and heart-rending.


First-generation Persian American Ava is looking forward to spending the summer before ninth grade surfing and hanging out with her friends.

These hopes are dashed when her single mother, a surgeon at the local hospital, signs her up to volunteer there, hoping this will inspire Ava to follow in her footsteps. In 1980s Southern California, Ava struggles with being a part of two cultures while feeling like an outsider in both. These feelings are compounded by her father’s absence and her OCD. Music, surfing, and her friendship with neighbor Phoenix, a boy who is cued as White, provide a sense of belonging. When Phoenix’s cancer comes back, Ava’s left feeling adrift. Processing her feelings through music empowers Ava and gives her a new understanding of home and the connections she shares with others. Raw and powerful, this free verse novel honestly explores issues of identity, culture, grief, and hope. Ava’s straightforward narration is sparse yet still manages to convey a lyrical sensibility: “I forget my body. / I forget the dread. / I forget the sweat. / I forget / who I have been and who left. / I only feel now o’clock. / Each note’s a stitch. / I’m a cut, getting mended.”Ava’s journey is full of swells and surges, but like a true surfer, she realizes the joy is in taking the ride. Delicate, precise spot art enhances the text.

Rich, layered, and heart-rending. (lyrics, mixtape tracks, information about Rumi, endnotes) (Verse novel. 11-14)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-951836-58-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Cameron Kids

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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A weak distillation of the author’s adult works, this is unlikely to instruct or even inspire young would-be explorers.



First principles of surviving in the wild, from one who should know.

Stroud, author of several survival manuals and memoirs for older audiences and host of TV shows that document his own voluntary strandings in diverse rugged climes, offers 12 anecdotes from his experiences that exemplify what he sees as the four necessary actions: “Prepare,” “Observe,” “React,” and “Adapt.” Some stories—such as the time a companion in the Kalahari reaches into a weaverbird nest for an egg and pulls out a cobra or the discovery that Australian witchetty grubs are delectable (“The skin tasted like fried chicken, and the insides tasted like scrambled eggs! Mmmm”) while the superficially similar Indonesian sago grubs really, truly aren’t—make riveting reading. Most, however, are more casual in tone than melodramatic, and they are too sketchy on the finer points of building a fire, contriving a shelter from found materials, or like skills to draw in survivalists of either the practical-minded or armchair bent. A basic survival-kit checklist and occasional DIY projects like a homemade rain gauge are likewise perfunctory. The illustrations make this look even more like a marketing tool, as Barr’s painted reconstructions depict useful gear or crank up the drama a bit but, like many of the interspersed photos, seem mostly designed to show how good the ruggedly handsome White author looks posing in various outdoorsy settings.

A weak distillation of the author’s adult works, this is unlikely to instruct or even inspire young would-be explorers. (bibliography) (Memoir. 10-13)

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77321-507-5

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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