A must-have title for school and public libraries as well as young activists’ home collections.

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START NOW!

YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

How does a preteen become a voice of change for their community? (Hint: Start by reading this book!)

Clinton (and her editing team) knows how to speak to the middle-grade crowd, hitting all the right notes in this useful and enjoyable guide to activism. A wide range of hot-topic issues is covered, including climate change, health and fitness, and even bullying and friendships. Each roughly 20-page chapter introduces readers to a topic with an overview, a precise bit of history, and a few real-world examples to enforce the idea that no goal is too lofty or unmanageable. Gallagher’s line illustrations are intermixed with photographs of kids who’ve made a difference. The children discussed are inclusive of many ages, races, and genders, allowing a diverse range of readers to find personal connections to the text. The language is simple but never simplistic. When reach words or unfamiliar terms are used, they are defined, explained, and often spelled phonetically. Each chapter ends with a bulleted “Start now!” list that offers helpful suggestions for involvement, balancing advice kids can give to parents and activities they can do themselves. In most cases, writing to an elected official is included, reminding children to reach out and let their voices be heard. The backmatter includes an index but, sadly, not a bibliography for further reading.

A must-have title for school and public libraries as well as young activists’ home collections. (Nonfiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-51436-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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Maybe it’s “awesome” to be average.

YOU ARE AWESOME

Champion table tennis player Syed begins this encouragement book by chronicling his own story of how he grew up believing he was average until he began to master the sport.

The goal of this book is to help kids realize that they needn’t necessarily be born with a certain gift or talent—that maybe success is a combination of hard work, the right mentors, and a strong support system. In the chapter “What’s Holding Me Back?” Syed offers a variety of ways a young person can begin to reflect on who they really are and define what their true passion may be. The following chapters stress the importance of practice, coping with pressure, and honoring mistakes as human rather than failure. Throughout the book, Syed highlights those he terms “Famous Failures,” including Steve Jobs, Jay-Z, and Jennifer Lawrence, while also providing a spotlight for those who mastered their talent by perseverance, such as Serena Williams, the Brontë sisters, and David Beckham. Though this self-help book has good intentions, however, it is a little heavy-handed on the perpetuation of an achievement-oriented life. Perhaps it is also good to acknowledge that not everybody need aspire to someone else’s definition of greatness.

Maybe it’s “awesome” to be average. (Nonfiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8753-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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Occasionally mannered but heartfelt throughout and indisputably timely.

HER RIGHT FOOT

Everyone knows what the Statue of Liberty stands for—but, as Eggers notes, she’s not actually “standing” at all.

Taking his time, as usual, at getting to the point, Eggers opens with the often told tale of the monument’s origins, preliminary construction, deconstruction, and shipping to “a city called New York, which is in a state also called New York.” He describes the statue’s main features, from crown to gown (“a very heavy kind of garment,” likely to cause “serious lower back issues”)—and points out that her right heel is not planted but lifted. What does this signify? That “…she is walking! This 150 foot woman is on the go!” She’s stepping out into the harbor, he suggests, to give new arrivals from Italy and Norway, Cambodia and Estonia, Syrians, Liberians, and all who have or will come an eager welcome. After all, he writes, she’s an immigrant too, and: “She is not content to wait.” In Harris’ ink-and–construction-paper collages, Parisian street scenes give way to close-up views of the brown (later green) ambulatory statue, alternating with galleries of those arrivals and their descendants, who are all united in their very diversity of age, sex, dress, and skin color. Photos, including one of the Emma Lazarus poem, cap this urgent defense of our “Golden Door.”

Occasionally mannered but heartfelt throughout and indisputably timely. (bibliography, source list) (Picture book. 9-13, adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6281-2

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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