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Short, yet packing a punch.

Navigating eighth grade is hard enough without having to learn a new language.

Debut author De Jesús allows readers a glimpse into her childhood as she shares the memories and lessons learned following her family’s move from Puerto Rico to the United States’ mainland. Sometimes feeling like a stranger in her own country, relocating made it hard for De Jesús’ mother to adjust. However, De Jesús knew that this time, unlike the case with a previous short stay, they wouldn’t return to Puerto Rico soon because the family had bought one-way tickets, and her grandmother back home had rented out their house and sold all their belongings. It is through a different surprise at the end of each chapter that De Jesús shares lessons learned through her experiences. These glimpses into her life highlight the struggles and culture shock that many Puerto Ricans face when moving within their own country, expressed through descriptions of the challenges of learning to spell in English, the realization that teachers were not respected, and even the feeling of being overdressed for a school dance. Noting that “surprises can be wonderful or unfortunate,” De Jesús offers honest, emotional, insightful, and sometimes-distressful vignettes in small, digestible chapters. She presents the Spanish version of the text first in the volume instead of having the Spanish and English side by side. The translation by Kanellos stays true to the original.

Short, yet packing a punch. (Memoir. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 31, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-55885-885-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Arte Público

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2019

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From the Pocket Change Collective series

Small but mighty necessary reading.

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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From the Pocket Change Collective series

Brief yet inspirational, this story will galvanize youth to use their voices for change.

Teen environmental activist and founder of the nonprofit Hannah4Change, Testa shares her story and the science around plastic pollution in her fight to save our planet.

Testa’s connection to and respect for nature compelled her to begin championing animal causes at the age of 10, and this desire to have an impact later propelled her to dedicate her life to fighting plastic pollution. Starting with the history of plastic and how it’s produced, Testa acknowledges the benefits of plastics for humanity but also the many ways it harms our planet. Instead of relying on recycling—which is both insufficient and ineffective—she urges readers to follow two additional R’s: “refuse” and “raise awareness.” Readers are encouraged to do their part, starting with small things like refusing to use plastic straws and water bottles and eventually working up to using their voices to influence business and policy change. In the process, she highlights other youth advocates working toward the same cause. Short chapters include personal examples, such as observations of plastic pollution in Mauritius, her maternal grandparents’ birthplace. Testa makes her case not only against plastic pollution, but also for the work she’s done, resulting in something of a college-admissions–essay tone. Nevertheless, the first-person accounts paired with science will have an impact on readers. Unfortunately, no sources are cited and the lack of backmatter is a missed opportunity.

Brief yet inspirational, this story will galvanize youth to use their voices for change. (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22333-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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