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 powerful resource for young people itching for change.

WOLFPACK (YOUNG READERS EDITION)

HOW YOUNG PEOPLE WILL FIND THEIR VOICE, UNITE THEIR PACK, AND CHANGE THE WORLD

Soccer star and activist Wambach adapts Wolfpack (2019), her New York Times bestseller for adults, for a middle-grade audience.

YOU. ARE. THE. WOLVES.” That rallying cry, each word proudly occupying its own line on the page, neatly sums up the fierce determination Wambach demands of her audience. The original Wolfpack was an adaptation of the viral 2018 commencement speech she gave at Barnard College; in her own words, it was “a directive to unleash [the graduates’] individuality, unite the collective, and change the world.” This new adaption takes the themes of the original and recasts them in kid-friendly terms, the call to action feeling more relevant now than ever. With the exception of the introduction and closing remarks, each short chapter presents a new leadership philosophy, dishing out such timeless advice as “Be grateful and ambitious”; “Make failure your fuel”; “Champion each other”; and “Find your pack.” Chapters utilize “rules” as a framing device. The first page of each presents a generalized “old” and “new” rule pertaining to that chapter’s guiding principle, and each chapter closes with a “Call to the Wolfpack” that sums up those principles in more specific terms. Some parts of the book come across as somewhat quixotic or buzzword-heavy, but Wambach deftly mitigates much of the preachiness with a bluff, congenial tone and refreshing dashes of self-deprecating humor. Personal anecdotes help ground each of the philosophies in applicability, and myriad heavy issues are respectfully, yet simply broached.

A powerful resource for young people itching for change. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-76686-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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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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