A bit dry for casual readers but nonetheless an excellent resource and a beautifully presented, nuanced introduction to...

CHINA

A HISTORY

Leveraging the rich collections of the Field Museum, Bardoe paints a broad history of China from the Stone Age to the present.

This ambitious project opens with an assertion that further challenges its mission: “There is no single China.” From the outset, the author acknowledges the great diversity of people, governance, and geography that make up what readers may understand as China. Yet over millennia, China’s rulers forged an empire that lasted through the 20th century, with cultural traditions that persist even today. Across this huge span of time, the author gathers the central threads of Chinese history, including innovations in ceramics and metal work in the early days, the trying work of empire-building, the development of major schools of thought, and China’s uneasy engagement with the rest of the world. Notwithstanding its vast scope, the narrative, supported by expertise and artifacts from the Field Museum, offers focus and insight. Each chapter concludes with an opportunity for reflection (“Imagine being Empress Dowager Cixi…”), bringing readers into the text. Readers may wonder at the extremely cursory mention of recent history, but, despite the book’s title, the author is fairly clear about her intention to focus elsewhere.

A bit dry for casual readers but nonetheless an excellent resource and a beautifully presented, nuanced introduction to pre-20th-century Chinese history. (timeline, source notes, selected bibliography, image credits, index) (Nonfiction. 10-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2121-2

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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Essential.

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THIS BOOK IS ANTI-RACIST

20 LESSONS ON HOW TO WAKE UP, TAKE ACTION, AND DO THE WORK

A guidebook for taking action against racism.

The clear title and bold, colorful illustrations will immediately draw attention to this book, designed to guide each reader on a personal journey to work to dismantle racism. In the author’s note, Jewell begins with explanations about word choice, including the use of the terms “folx,” because it is gender neutral, and “global majority,” noting that marginalized communities of color are actually the majority in the world. She also chooses to capitalize Black, Brown, and Indigenous as a way of centering these communities’ voices; "white" is not capitalized. Organized in four sections—identity, history, taking action, and working in solidarity—each chapter builds on the lessons of the previous section. Underlined words are defined in the glossary, but Jewell unpacks concepts around race in an accessible way, bringing attention to common misunderstandings. Activities are included at the end of each chapter; they are effective, prompting both self-reflection and action steps from readers. The activities are designed to not be written inside the actual book; instead Jewell invites readers to find a special notebook and favorite pen and use that throughout. Combining the disruption of common fallacies, spotlights on change makers, the author’s personal reflections, and a call to action, this powerful book has something for all young people no matter what stage they are at in terms of awareness or activism.

Essential. (author’s note, further reading, glossary, select bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4521-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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Ultimately adds little to conversations about race.

UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK BOY

A popular YouTube series on race, “Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man,” turns how-to manual and history lesson for young readers.

Acho is a former NFL player and second-generation Nigerian American who cites his upbringing in predominantly White spaces as well as his tenure on largely Black football teams as qualifications for facilitating the titular conversations about anti-Black racism. The broad range of subjects covered here includes implicit bias, cultural appropriation, and systemic racism. Each chapter features brief overviews of American history, personal anecdotes of Acho’s struggles with his own anti-Black biases, and sections titled “Let’s Get Uncomfortable.” The book’s centering of Whiteness and White readers seems to show up, to the detriment of its subject matter, both in Acho’s accounts of his upbringing and his thought processes regarding race. The overall tone unfortunately conveys a sense of expecting little from a younger generation who may have a greater awareness than he did at the same age and who, therefore, may already be uncomfortable with racial injustice itself. The attempt at an avuncular tone disappointingly reads as condescending, revealing that, despite his online success with adults, the author is ill-equipped to be writing for middle-grade readers. Chapters dedicated to explaining to White readers why they shouldn’t use the N-word and how valuable White allyship is may make readers of color (and many White readers) bristle with indignation and discomfort despite Acho’s positive intentions.

Ultimately adds little to conversations about race. (glossary, FAQ, recommended reading, references) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-80106-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

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