There’s plenty of interesting information in this collection, but there’s a lot to sift through to get to it.

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STORIES FOR KIDS WHO DARE TO BE DIFFERENT

TRUE TALES OF AMAZING PEOPLE WHO STOOD UP AND STOOD OUT

A follow-up to Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different (2018) that includes girls and women.

All of the strengths and weaknesses of Brooks’ earlier collection can be found here as well. Readers learn about 76 artists, athletes, inventors, and philanthropists, distilled into one-page entries opposite a portrait. Many of the entries are clumsily written, and the only times the subjects get to speak for themselves are in occasional unsourced, sound-bite–y pablum. In addition to individuals, Brooks also profiles the band Bikini Kill, the Syrian White Helmets, and the German anti-Nazi Edelweiss Pirates. Some of the entries, such as the Wright Brothers’, stretch the idea of “difference.” The collection’s general attitude posits that disabilities are tragedies that one can overcome with the right attitude, an idea often pushed back against by disability activists. Other entries seem to laud white savior–ism, such as one about two white women who “had always been drawn to Africa,” which tries to explain female genital cutting to young audiences as “a traditional ritual that…involves the girls being painfully and pointlessly mutilated for life.” The one trans person, Roberta Cowell, is predominantly referred to by her old name and pronouns, with liberal use of the “wrong body” trope. The overall message of individualism may be inspirational for some, but it will definitely feel limiting to others.

There’s plenty of interesting information in this collection, but there’s a lot to sift through to get to it. (Collective biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6855-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Running Press

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many.

GUTS

Young Raina is 9 when she throws up for the first time that she remembers, due to a stomach bug. Even a year later, when she is in fifth grade, she fears getting sick.

Raina begins having regular stomachaches that keep her home from school. She worries about sharing food with her friends and eating certain kinds of foods, afraid of getting sick or food poisoning. Raina’s mother enrolls her in therapy. At first Raina isn’t sure about seeing a therapist, but over time she develops healthy coping mechanisms to deal with her stress and anxiety. Her therapist helps her learn to ground herself and relax, and in turn she teaches her classmates for a school project. Amping up the green, wavy lines to evoke Raina’s nausea, Telgemeier brilliantly produces extremely accurate visual representations of stress and anxiety. Thought bubbles surround Raina in some panels, crowding her with anxious “what if”s, while in others her negative self-talk appears to be literally crushing her. Even as she copes with anxiety disorder and what is eventually diagnosed as mild irritable bowel syndrome, she experiences the typical stresses of school life, going from cheer to panic in the blink of an eye. Raina is white, and her classmates are diverse; one best friend is Korean American.

With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many. (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-85251-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A painful and painfully recognizable tale of one girl’s struggle to make and keep “one good friend.” (author’s note)...

REAL FRIENDS

A truth-telling graphic memoir whose theme song could be Johnny Lee’s old country song “Lookin’ for Love in all the Wrong Places.”

Shannon, depicted in Pham’s clear, appealing panels as a redheaded white girl, starts kindergarten in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1979, and her story ends just before sixth grade. Desperately longing to be in “the group” at school, Shannon suffers persistent bullying, particularly from a mean girl, Jenny, which leads to chronic stomachaches, missing school, and doctor visits. Contemporary readers will recognize behaviors indicative of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but the doctor calls it anxiety and tells Shannon to stop worrying. Instead of being a place of solace, home adds to Shannon’s stress. The middle child of five, she suffers abuse from her oldest sibling, Wendy, whom Pham often portrays as a fierce, gigantic bear and whom readers see their mother worrying about from the beginning. The protagonist’s faith (presented as generically Christian) surfaces overtly a few times but mostly seems to provide a moral compass for Shannon as she negotiates these complicated relationships. This episodic story sometimes sticks too close to the truth for comfort, but readers will appreciate Shannon’s fantastic imagination that lightens her tough journey toward courage and self-acceptance.

A painful and painfully recognizable tale of one girl’s struggle to make and keep “one good friend.” (author’s note) (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-416-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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