Book List

Reads for Teens Stuck at Home

A significant people’s history and call to action for youth.

ONE PERSON, NO VOTE (YA EDITION)

HOW NOT ALL VOTERS ARE TREATED EQUALLY

This YA adaptation of Anderson’s breakthrough 2018 book of the same name for adults demonstrates her scholarship on racial discrimination and voter disenfranchisement, presenting an urgent case for political intervention.

“The millions of votes and voters that disappeared in 2016 were a long time in the making,” begins this deep historical investigation. The excitement of the Reconstruction era, when newly enfranchised black men were able to leverage such transformative policies as the shaping of the public school system, led to white people inventing de facto and de jure mechanisms to prevent black America from having any real political power. Civil rights struggles achieved the 1965 Voting Rights Act in a period of U.S. global ideological competition, but simmering anger and backlash from whites strove to undo voter protections for black citizens. Coverage of the controversial 2000 presidential election results shows how the GOP–led reinvention of voter disenfranchisement strategies undermined federal government–backed voter protections in order to focus on eliminating voter fraud. Persuasively emphasized throughout the book is the disproportionate impact of these policies on black citizens, as Anderson argues with clarity that predatory racial animus lies at the center of the American democratic project, culminating with the winner of the 2016 presidential election. Bolden’s (Inventing Victoria, 2019, etc.) adaptation will fire up a new generation of civic activists through its gripping presentation.

A significant people’s history and call to action for youth. (discussion guide, resources, notes, photo credits, index) (Nonfiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0107-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

A thorough, timely guide to a wretched hive of scum and villainy.

UNPRESIDENTED

A BIOGRAPHY OF DONALD TRUMP

A painstaking account of the personal and business practices that somehow failed to prevent the Trumps from becoming America’s first family.

This tale of both moral and literal bankruptcy begins with the immigration of the president’s grandfather from Bavaria and proceeds in a long tally of cheats, tweets, and deceit to an all-caps bit of saber rattling against Iran in July 2018. With hundreds of endnotes to attest to the depth of her research, Brockenbrough (Alexander Hamilton, Revolutionary, 2017, etc.) sets out to build a character portrait of her subject by documenting patterns of behavior, and in that she succeeds convincingly. Printed in blue ink that does neither the text nor the photographs any favors, it’s nevertheless an invaluable resource for student research; as a cover-to-cover read, interest may flag under the weight of details of suits and settlements, hirings and firings, boasts vs. outright lies, alleged and indicted malfeasance by a large cast of slimy associates, and like intrigues. Also, though perhaps justifiably focused on the Donald, the author so rarely spares a glance at the women in his family and circle that the overall picture lacks a possibly significant dimension. Extensive backmatter includes capsule bios of the members of Trump’s campaign and legal teams, biographical and presidential timelines, and evidence (to mid-2018) of his Russian connections.

A thorough, timely guide to a wretched hive of scum and villainy. (family tree, timeline, biographies, endnotes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-30803-0

Page Count: 434

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

This attractive, engaging volume is a must-have for every school library.

THE WIDE WORLD OF CODING

THE PEOPLE AND CAREERS BEHIND THE PROGRAMS

A human-centered look at programming.

Focusing more on the conceptual side of programming—how to think like a programmer as opposed to explaining how to write in specific codes—science writer Connor-Smith (Living With Panic Disorder, 2018, etc.) illustrates her points with punchy, efficient anecdotes about the real-world applications and occurrences of the various ideas she presents instead of getting bogged down in theory. Early chapters cover the various steps that creating a program requires (with emphases on the amount of design that can be done on paper and on troubleshooting) followed by an overview of programming language (from a development and function viewpoint) and thorough-yet-succinct algorithm coverage. But it’s in the second half of the book where Connor-Smith’s psychology background shines, in chapters covering good versus bad design (and the manipulative psychology behind addictive programming and why companies use it), a wonderfully timely chapter on ethics in the digital realm, and a chapter detailing both why computer science as a field lacks diversity and how—through specific examples—increasing diversity improves outcomes for users and programs alike. The final chapter highlights tech areas with exciting and sometimes scary developments happening now—the text doesn’t shy away from the dark sides of technology but avoids fearmongering—encouraging readers to jump into the world of coding.

This attractive, engaging volume is a must-have for every school library. (answer key, timeline, glossary, source notes, selected bibliography, further reading, index, photo credits) (Nonfiction. 12-adult)

Pub Date: today

ISBN: 978-1-5415-5282-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

An excellent read, dismantling American mythologies and fostering critical reasoning about history and current events.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

From the Revisioning American History for Young Readers series , Vol. 2

A young readers’ adaptation of the groundbreaking 2014 work, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, offering an important corrective to conventional narratives of our nation’s history.

Questioning the ideologies behind the belief systems that gave birth to America’s dominant origin stories, this book not only challenges the standard tale of European explorers “discovering” America, it provides an Indigenous perspective on key events. The book urges students to think critically about private property and extractive industries, land conservation and environmental rights, social activism, the definition of what it means to be “civilized,” and the role of the media in shaping perceptions. With an eye to the diversity and number of Indigenous nations in America, the volume untangles the many conquerors and victims of the early colonization era and beyond. From the arrival of the first Europeans through to the 21st century, the work tackles subjects as diverse as the Dakota 38, the Ghost Dance and Wounded Knee, the American Indian Movement’s takeover of Alcatraz, and the Dakota Access Pipeline resistance. A deeply felt connection to the Earth’s health permeates the text, along with the strength and resiliency that have kept Indigenous cultures alive. Maps, photographs, informative sidebars, points for discussion, and a recommended book list round out this accessible, engaging, and necessary addition to school libraries and classrooms.

An excellent read, dismantling American mythologies and fostering critical reasoning about history and current events. (further reading, recommended titles, notes, image credits, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8070-4939-6

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

Irresistible, slick, and sharp (no bull!)—with plenty of bull to dissect.

BULL

A saucy, brash retelling of the Greek myth of the Minotaur.

In a series of dramatic monologues with no settings, Elliott updates the voices of Poseidon, Minos, Daedalus, Pasiphae, Asterion, and Ariadne, each in its own poetic form. Poseidon dominates in word count and attitude: if “[y]ou think a god should be more refined? / … / Never / Bawdy / Raunchy / Racy / Rude? / News Flash: / You don’t want a god. / You want a prude.” Angry at king Minos, he considers direct revenge (“Boils! / Scabs! / Gills! / A snout! / [Turn] his / Ding-dong / Inside / Out!”) but instead gives Queen Pasiphae “a thing / For the white bull’s thang.” Asterion the Minotaur is born. He grows to age 17, bleakly miserable, tortured by Minos, finally imprisoned in the iconic maze; even his sister Ariadne can’t break him out, and eventually he falls to Theseus. Poseidon considers Minos “a dick! / But also so much fun to hate”; some readers will think exactly that about Poseidon too, while others will resent just how much fun Poseidon is to hate, given his misogynistic women-are-crazy/women-are-whores snark about Pasiphae, whose woes he literally created himself. Elliott’s absolutely magnetic rhythms will wake up any high school class, and the book could also work as a play.

Irresistible, slick, and sharp (no bull!)—with plenty of bull to dissect. (cast of characters, author’s notes) (Verse fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-61060-6

Page Count: 200

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

Young readers will come away inspired by these portraits of courageous ordinary people.

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THE SURRENDER TREE

POEMS OF CUBA’S STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM

Tales of political dissent can prove, at times, to be challenging reads for youngsters, but this fictionalized version of the Cuban struggle for independence from Spain may act as an entry to the form.

The poems offer rich character portraits through concise, heightened language, and their order within the cycle provides suspense. Four characters tell the bulk of the story: Rosa, a child who grows up to be a nurse who heals the wounded, sick and starving with herbal medicine; her husband, José, who helps her move makeshift hospitals from cave to cave; Silvia, an orphaned girl who escapes a slave camp so that she may learn from Rosa; and Lieutenant Death, a hardened boy who grows up wanting only to kill Rosa and all others like her. Stretching from 1850 to 1899, these poems convey the fierce desire of the Cuban people to be free.

Young readers will come away inspired by these portraits of courageous ordinary people. (author’s note, historical note, chronology, references) (Fiction/poetry. 12+)

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8674-4

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2008

While this book does not serve as an introduction to Darwin’s life and ideas, readers wanting to know more will discover two...

CHARLES AND EMMA

THE DARWINS’ LEAP OF FAITH

This rich, insightful portrait of Charles and Emma Darwin’s marriage explores a dimension of the naturalist’s life that has heretofore been largely ignored. 

Emma was devoutly religious while Charles’s agnosticism increased as he delved deeper into his studies of natural history, but they did not let this difference come between them. While unable to agree with Charles’s theory that essentially eliminated God from the process of creation, Emma remained open-minded and supportive, even reading drafts of The Origin of Species and suggesting improvements. Using excerpts from correspondence, diaries and journals, Heiligman portrays a relationship grounded in mutual respect. The narrative conveys a vivid sense of what life was like in Victorian England, particularly the high infant mortality rate that marred the Darwins’ happiness and the challenges Charles faced in deciding to publish his controversial theory. 

While this book does not serve as an introduction to Darwin’s life and ideas, readers wanting to know more will discover two brilliant thinkers whose marital dialectic will provide rich fodder for discussions of science and faith. (introduction, source notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8721-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2008

A powerful, awe-inspiring basketball-driven history.

ATTUCKS!

OSCAR ROBERTSON AND THE BASKETBALL TEAM THAT AWAKENED A CITY

Acclaimed author Hoose (The Boys Who Challenged Hitler, 2015, etc.) returns to his home state with the true story of the all-black high school basketball team that broke the color barrier in segregated 1950s Indianapolis, anchored by one of the greatest players of all time.

Recently honored with the NBA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Oscar Robertson is known for his accomplishments both as an athlete and advocate for NBA players. However, few know the story of how the Naptown basketball savant was able to lead his segregated high school to back-to-back state championships. Hoose does a brilliant job of portraying the surrounding historical context, exploring the migration of black families from the South to Indiana, showing how Jim Crow practices were just as present in the North as in the South, and describing the deep groundswell of support for basketball in Indiana. The inspiration for the book was the Big O himself, who told Hoose that the Ku Klux Klan “did something they couldn’t foresee by making Attucks an all-black school. The city of Indianapolis integrated because we were winning.” Could basketball have served as a pathway to racial progress within the Hoosier state? Attucks! doesn’t pretend that we’ve outlived the racism of the American past, all the while showing readers how being grounded in one’s self-worth and committed to the pursuit of excellence can have a lasting impact on a community.

A powerful, awe-inspiring basketball-driven history. (biographies, sources, notes, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-374-30612-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

Hot and heady: an enticing calling card for researchers of tomorrow.

BODY 2.0

THE ENGINEERING REVOLUTION IN MEDICINE

A primer on biomedical engineering.

Veteran science author Latta (Zoom in on Mining Robots, 2018, etc.) here spotlights the fascinating convergence of medicine, engineering, and scientific discovery, offering provocative glimpses into the burgeoning fields of tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, neuroscience, microbiology, genetic engineering, and synthetic biology. Inspiring problem-solving–minded teens to explore these STEM disciplines by describing projects so cutting edge they seem like science fiction, Latta also includes brief profiles and photos of diverse researchers that enable readers to imagine themselves pursuing similar careers. Says Dr. Gilda Barabino, “I think there’s a little bit of an engineer in everybody. It’s curiosity! Everybody wants to know how things work.” Areas of potential breakthrough covered include brain-computer interfaces that may one day allow people with paralysis or limited mobility to move their limbs or control a robot helper; editing the human genome to treat chronic diseases like sickle cell disease by removing and replacing damaged DNA; optogenetics, which hopes to combine gene therapy with light to reduce pain and cure blindness; and growing bespoke body parts like bone, skin, arteries, and more in the lab, seeded by one’s own cells and partially crafted by 3-D bioprinters. Full-color diagrams and photos combined with informative text boxes and a lively, conversational style make this an appealing choice.

Hot and heady: an enticing calling card for researchers of tomorrow. (glossary, source notes, bibliography, further information, index, photo credits) (Nonfiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2813-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

This tour de force fearlessly asks big questions about culture, faith, and identity and refuses to offer simple answers.

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BOXERS & SAINTS

Printz Award winner Yang’s ambitious two-volume graphic novel follows the intertwined lives of two young people on opposite sides of the turn-of-the-20th-century Boxer Rebellion.

Little Bao, whose story is told in Boxers, grows up fascinated by the opera’s colorful traditional tales and filled with reverence for the local deities. Appalled by the arrogant behavior of foreign soldiers, Christian missionaries and their Chinese supporters, he eventually becomes a leader of the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fist, fighting under the slogan “Support the Ch’ing! Destroy the Foreigner!” The protagonist of Saints—an unlucky, unwanted, unnamed fourth daughter—is known only as Four-Girl until she’s christened Vibiana upon her conversion to Catholicism. Beaten by her family for her beliefs, she finds refuge and friendship with foreign missionaries, making herself a target for the Boxers. Scrupulously researched, the narratives make a violent conflict rarely studied in U.S. schools feel immediate, as Yang balances historical detail with humor and magical realism. Ch’in Shih-huang, the first emperor of China, and Joan of Arc serve as Bao’s and Vibiana’s respective spiritual guides; the rich hues of the protagonists’ visions, provided by colorist Lark Pien, contrast effectively with the muted earth tones of their everyday lives. The restrained script often, and wisely, lets Yang’s clear, clean art speak for itself.

This tour de force fearlessly asks big questions about culture, faith, and identity and refuses to offer simple answers. (bibliography) (Graphic historical fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59643-924-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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