Well-intended but undistinguished.

VOICES OF JUSTICE

POEMS ABOUT PEOPLE WORKING FOR A BETTER WORLD

From the Who Did It First? series , Vol. 6

Portraits and poems celebrate change-makers.

Lyon mixes such stalwarts as Nelson Mandela, Dolores Huerta, Jeannette Rankin, and Shirley Chisholm with emerging heroes such as the Parkland shooting survivors and Greta Thunberg and less well-known people like Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese government official stationed in Lithuania who wrote transit visas for 6,000 Jews during World War II, and Brazilian transgender activist and pastor Alexya Salvador. The unrhymed poems vary in structure, frequently relying on line breaks and spaces within lines to govern reading pace while occasionally indulging in flashier visuals. The Jane Addams poem appropriately resembles a small home with an open door, successfully evoking Hull House, but the poem that celebrates primatologists Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas is too clever for its own good, lines arranged like the rays around a large, yellow sun and consequently very difficult to read. The language itself is often disappointingly flat, as in these first lines of the Julia Butterfly Hill poem: “Do you like to climb trees? / Would you live in one / for two years to save its life?” With the exception of a compelling James Baldwin, the portraits are too often likewise static. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 57.3% of actual size.)

Well-intended but undistinguished. (thumbnail biographies, guide for parents and caregivers, glossary, selected sources) (Picture book/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26320-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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IF YOU LIVED DURING THE PLIMOTH THANKSGIVING

A measured corrective to pervasive myths about what is often referred to as the “first Thanksgiving.”

Contextualizing them within a Native perspective, Newell (Passamaquoddy) touches on the all-too-familiar elements of the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving and its origins and the history of English colonization in the territory now known as New England. In addition to the voyage and landfall of the Mayflower, readers learn about the Doctrine of Discovery that arrogated the lands of non-Christian peoples to European settlers; earlier encounters between the Indigenous peoples of the region and Europeans; and the Great Dying of 1616-1619, which emptied the village of Patuxet by 1620. Short, two- to six-page chapters alternate between the story of the English settlers and exploring the complex political makeup of the region and the culture, agriculture, and technology of the Wampanoag—all before covering the evolution of the holiday. Refreshingly, the lens Newell offers is a Native one, describing how the Wampanoag and other Native peoples received the English rather than the other way around. Key words ranging from estuary to discover are printed in boldface in the narrative and defined in a closing glossary. Nelson (a member of the Leech Lake Band of Minnesota Chippewa) contributes soft line-and-color illustrations of the proceedings. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Essential. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-72637-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.

OIL

In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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