A powerful tale about finding purpose and strength in the face of extreme adversity.

YANG WARRIORS

In the bleak Ban Vinai Refugee Camp, a brave group of young Hmong children, all cousins, rises up to help those they love.

Led by 10-year-old Master Me, the cousins spend their time training to protect themselves and others. Driven by a sense of duty that defies their age, the group undertakes a risky mission to leave the camp and retrieve vegetables for the younger children. Their fortitude and sacrifice leave an indelible mark on the younger children, giving them their “first taste of freedom” and the courage to keep enduring for a better life. The story springs from Yang’s experience as a child in Ban Vinai, and she narrates with a reflective, retrospective tone, incorporating sensory details that lend immediacy: Readers will taste that bravely foraged meal. Thao’s strong use of perspective highlights the oppressive nature of the camp, with its linear row of dwellings and towering trees standing sentinel. Shadows are dramatically rendered, Master Me’s taking shape in the form of a Hmong heart symbol, representing his role as a leader and as the one “who cares the most.” Within the dull and muted landscape, the warrior children stand out as contrasting pops of bright color symbolizing their resistance and role as bearers of hope. Alas, clunky, repetitive design impedes readers’ immersion in the book. The author and illustrator, who is also Hmong, each contribute a moving note.

A powerful tale about finding purpose and strength in the face of extreme adversity. (Picture book/memoir. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5179-0798-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Univ. of Minnesota

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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What makes one person step into danger to help others? A question worthy of discussion, with this title as an admirable...

THE BRAVE CYCLIST

THE TRUE STORY OF A HOLOCAUST HERO

An extraordinary athlete was also an extraordinary hero.

Gino Bartali grew up in Florence, Italy, loving everything about riding bicycles. After years of studying them and years of endurance training, he won the 1938 Tour de France. His triumph was muted by the outbreak of World War II, during which Mussolini followed Hitler in the establishment of anti-Jewish laws. In the middle years of the conflict, Bartali was enlisted by a cardinal of the Italian church to help Jews by becoming a document courier. His skill as a cyclist and his fame helped him elude capture until 1944. When the war ended, he kept his clandestine efforts private and went on to win another Tour de France in 1948. The author’s afterword explains why his work was unknown. Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust museum, honored him as a Righteous Among the Nations in 2013. Bartali’s is a life well worth knowing and well worthy of esteem. Fedele’s illustrations in mostly dark hues will appeal to sports fans with their action-oriented scenes. Young readers of World War II stories will gain an understanding from the somber wartime pages.

What makes one person step into danger to help others? A question worthy of discussion, with this title as an admirable springboard. (photograph, select bibliography, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68446-063-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Capstone Editions

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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This lighthearted addition to the STEM shelf encourages children to question, hypothesize, experiment, and observe.

IT'S A ROUND, ROUND WORLD!

From the Joulia Copernicus series

In a confident first-person narrative, young scientist Joulia Copernicus debunks the story that Columbus “proved Earth is round.”

Informing readers that Columbus knew this fact, and so did most people of his time, Joulia also points out that “Ancient Greek, Islamic, and Indian scholars theorized that Earth was round WAY before Columbus’s time.” Confident Joulia explains how Columbus, shown as a haughty captain in the humorous, cartoon illustrations, and his fellow mariners confirmed Earth was round by discerning “that when ships sail away from you, they seem to disappear from the bottom. When they sail toward you, they appear from the top. On a flat Earth, you’d see the entire ship the entire time.” The accompanying illustrations, almost like animation cels, provide the visuals readers need to confirm these assertions. Joulia also turns to astronomy. A lunar eclipse is the highlight of a double-page spread with a large yellow sun, a personified blue and green Earth wearing sunglasses, and the moon moving in iterations through the Earth’s shadow. This shows readers that the Earth’s shadow is “ROUND!” Joulia has straight, brown hair and pale skin and is almost always the only human in any given illustration. It’s great to see a young woman scientist, but it’s too bad there’s not more diversity around her. Two experiments stimulate further exploration.

This lighthearted addition to the STEM shelf encourages children to question, hypothesize, experiment, and observe. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63592-128-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: StarBerry Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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