A moving, inspiring love letter to and about “the concrete kids. The kids with a melanin kiss.”

CONCRETE KIDS

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A beautiful, heart-rending poetry collection about a childhood steeped in loss and love.

Using free verse and her own lived experience, León tells readers a story through the lens of a mixed-race girl, from her years as a young child to being a teenager, going from life with her White birth mother—never having met her Black father—to being in foster care, getting adopted by her Puerto Rican mother, and moving to pre-gentrified Harlem. Captured in this collection is the sense of community among people bonded by a shared culture as much as by proximity and class. Captivating descriptions of rituals celebrating the living and mourning lives gone highlight the resilience needed in order to not just move on, but survive. León describes with gripping honesty the heartbreak of being separated from one’s mother, the trauma of enduring violence at the hands of those who are supposed to care for you, and the bittersweet feeling of being adopted and finding a sense of belonging outside of one’s biological parentage. Readers will be left feeling sorrowful and yet hopeful by this story of how to live when death surrounds you and how to define and dream of freedom when freedom seems like a privilege bestowed on others who don’t look like you.

A moving, inspiring love letter to and about “the concrete kids. The kids with a melanin kiss.” (Verse memoir. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09519-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Though not the most balanced, an enlightening look back for the queer future.

A QUEER HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

An adaptation for teens of the adult title A Queer History of the United States (2011).

Divided into thematic sections, the text filters LGBTQIA+ history through key figures in each era from the 1500s to the present. Alongside watershed moments like the 1969 Stonewall uprising and the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, the text brings to light less well-known people, places, and events: the 1625 free love colony of Merrymount, transgender Civil War hero Albert D.J. Cashier, and the 1951 founding of the Mattachine Society, to name a few. Throughout, the author and adapter take care to use accurate pronouns and avoid imposing contemporary terminology onto historical figures. In some cases, they quote primary sources to speculate about same-sex relationships while also reminding readers of past cultural differences in expressing strong affection between friends. Black-and-white illustrations or photos augment each chapter. Though it lacks the teen appeal and personable, conversational style of Sarah Prager’s Queer, There, and Everywhere (2017), this textbook-level survey contains a surprising amount of depth. However, the mention of transgender movements and activism—in particular, contemporary issues—runs on the slim side. Whereas chapters are devoted to over 30 ethnically diverse gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer figures, some trans pioneers such as Christine Jorgensen and Holly Woodlawn are reduced to short sidebars.

Though not the most balanced, an enlightening look back for the queer future. (glossary, photo credits, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8070-5612-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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This deeply personal and boldly political offering inspires and ignites.

THIS IS WHAT I KNOW ABOUT ART

From the Pocket Change Collective series

Curator, author, and activist Drew shares her journey as an artist and the lessons she has learned along the way.

Drew uses her own story to show how deeply intertwined activism and the arts can be. Her choices in college were largely overshadowed by financial need, but a paid summer internship at the Studio Museum in Harlem became a formative experience that led her to major in art history. The black artists who got her interested in the field were conspicuously absent in the college curriculum, however, as was faculty support, so she turned her frustration into action by starting her own blog to boost the work of black artists. After college, Drew’s work in several arts organizations, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, only deepened her commitment to making the art world more accessible to people of color and other marginalized groups, such as people with disabilities, and widening the scope of who is welcomed there. Drew narrates deeply personal experiences of frustration, triumph, progress, learning, and sometimes-uncomfortable growth in a conversational tone that draws readers in, showing how her specific lens enabled her to accomplish the work she has done but ultimately inviting readers to add their own contributions, however small, to both art and protest.

This deeply personal and boldly political offering inspires and ignites. (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09518-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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