A rigorous, relatable text about one of America’s all-time entertainers and social activists.

SING AND SHOUT

THE MIGHTY VOICE OF PAUL ROBESON

Focuses on Robeson’s rich, multifaceted legacy, including how his love for song served as a touchpoint throughout his historic life.

A veteran author for younger readers, Rubin provides a meticulously researched biography that integrates numerous archival images. This offering foregrounds Robeson as a powerful, studied voice of Negro spirituals, a black folk music tradition rich in religious symbolism that arose in response (and resistance to) enslavement in the U.S. Lyrics from Robeson’s repertoire form the titles of chapters, which cover his birth in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1898; his childhood and youth; his triumphant global following in the 1930s and ’40s; the turbulent 1950s, when he became a primary target of Cold War McCarthyism; and his final years in Philadelphia. Harry Belafonte, Robeson’s mentee, provides a preface, declaring his significance as a champion of the oppressed as being on par with that of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. With such an exceptional man, it would be easy to simply submit to hero worship, but Rubin lays out Robeson’s lifelong evolution on a number of personal and political issues in dialogue with his wife, Eslanda, and other noteworthy figures. Readers can expect to sit with these lessons from the committed life of one of the 20th century’s most resonant voices.

A rigorous, relatable text about one of America’s all-time entertainers and social activists. (preface, foreword, note on terminology, personal note, bibliography, Robeson’s music, Harlem walking tour, source notes, index, picture credits, text and song permissions) (Biography. 12-adult)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62979-857-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

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A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today.

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THEY CALLED US ENEMY

A beautifully heart-wrenching graphic-novel adaptation of actor and activist Takei’s (Lions and Tigers and Bears, 2013, etc.) childhood experience of incarceration in a World War II camp for Japanese Americans.

Takei had not yet started school when he, his parents, and his younger siblings were forced to leave their home and report to the Santa Anita Racetrack for “processing and removal” due to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The creators smoothly and cleverly embed the historical context within which Takei’s family’s story takes place, allowing readers to simultaneously experience the daily humiliations that they suffered in the camps while providing readers with a broader understanding of the federal legislation, lawsuits, and actions which led to and maintained this injustice. The heroes who fought against this and provided support to and within the Japanese American community, such as Fred Korematsu, the 442nd Regiment, Herbert Nicholson, and the ACLU’s Wayne Collins, are also highlighted, but the focus always remains on the many sacrifices that Takei’s parents made to ensure the safety and survival of their family while shielding their children from knowing the depths of the hatred they faced and danger they were in. The creators also highlight the dangerous parallels between the hate speech, stereotyping, and legislation used against Japanese Americans and the trajectory of current events. Delicate grayscale illustrations effectively convey the intense emotions and the stark living conditions.

A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60309-450-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Top Shelf Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

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Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author.

CONTINUUM

From the Pocket Change Collective series

Deaf, trans artist Man meditates on his journey and identity in this brief memoir.

Growing up in conservative central Pennsylvania was tough for the 21-year-old Deaf, genderqueer, pansexual, and biracial (Chinese/White Jewish) author. He describes his gender and sexual identity, his experiences of racism and ableism, and his desire to use his visibility as a YouTube personality, model, and actor to help other young people like him. He is open and vulnerable throughout, even choosing to reveal his birth name. Man shares his experiences of becoming deaf as a small child and at times feeling ostracized from the Deaf community but not how he arrived at his current Deaf identity. His description of his gender-identity development occasionally slips into a well-worn pink-and-blue binary. The text is accompanied and transcended by the author’s own intriguing, expressionistic line drawings. However, Man ultimately falls short of truly insightful reflection or analysis, offering a mostly surface-level account of his life that will likely not be compelling to readers who are not already fans. While his visibility and success as someone whose life represents multiple marginalized identities are valuable in themselves, this heartfelt personal chronicle would have benefited from deeper introspection.

Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author. (Memoir. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-22348-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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