Full of razors that cut—and razors to cut off shackles: a must.

POISONED APPLES

POEMS FOR YOU, MY PRETTY

A slim volume sharp as knives.

Lacing traditional fairy tales through real-life perils, Heppermann produces short poems with raw pain, scathing commentary and fierce liberation. There’s no linear arc; instead, girls buck and fight and hurt. One poem takes the expression “You Go, Girl!” literally, banishing anyone with “wetness, dryness, tightness, looseness, / redness, yellowing, blackheads, whiteheads, the blues.” In a structure heartbreakingly inverted from “The Three Little Pigs” (and nodding to “Rumpelstiltskin”), one girl’s body goes from “a house of bricks, / point guard on the JV team” to “a house of sticks, / kindling in Converse high-tops,” until finally “she’s building herself out of straw / as light as the needle swimming in her bathroom scale. / The smaller the number, the closer to gold.” She’s her own wolf, destroying herself. Sexual repression, molestation and endless beauty judgments bite and sting, causing eating disorders, self-injury, internalization of rules—and rebellion. A hypothetical miller’s daughter says, “No, I can’t spin that room full of straw into gold. / …. / No, I can’t give you the child; / the child will never exist.” Gretel’s act of eating will literally rescue Hansel; Red Riding Hood reclaims sexual agency, declaring, “If that woodsman shows up now, / I will totally kick his ass.”

Full of razors that cut—and razors to cut off shackles: a must. (author’s note, index of first lines, index of photographs) (Poetry. 13-17)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-228957-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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Broad, deep, and on a significant topic but more utilitarian than inspirational.

DRAWING THE VOTE

A GRAPHIC NOVEL HISTORY FOR FUTURE VOTERS

A history of U.S. voting rights and the unrelenting barrage of challenges to them, with a chapter that updates the original 2020 edition.

Despite an occasional bobble (no, all the states did not send representatives to the Constitutional Convention, and the Shelby County vs. Holder decision, devastating as it was, was not responsible for “overturning” the Voting Rights Act), college professor Jenkins delivers a broadly comprehensive overview that takes readers from “No taxation without representation!” to the events of Jan. 6, 2021 and beyond, with updates covering the failure of the Arizona recount and the recent flurry of legislation designed to further depress our already chronically low levels of voter participation. The additions lend currency to the story, but apathetic readers are more likely to catch a spark from other histories, such as Susan Goldman Rubin’s Give Us the Vote! (2020). The graphic format does little to animate this account, as aside from some redrawn historical news photos, the drably duotone art runs to clumsily rendered portraits of figures in static poses stiffly restating talking points, uttering (in)famous quotes (“Why do we want all these people from shithole countries?”)—or in a running conceit, imitating game show announcers: “Congratulations! John Adams, you’ve won the presidency!” The color scheme also minimizes differences in skin color, and visual elements frequently look crammed in among the fulsome blocks of lecture-y narrative.

Broad, deep, and on a significant topic but more utilitarian than inspirational. (voting information, source notes) (Graphic nonfiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3999-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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The proximity to pain makes for a choppy narrative but also vitally draws attention to a global crisis

HIDDEN GIRL

THE TRUE STORY OF A MODERN-DAY CHILD SLAVE

This memoir of modern domestic slavery ends with hope and determination, as young author Hall (born Shyima El-Sayed Hassan) is “one of the fortunate 2 percent” to be freed from servitude.

Shyima’s childhood in Egypt ends when her parents are blackmailed into turning over their 8-year-old daughter to a wealthy couple. Every day, Shyima cleans the five-story house and the 17-car garage, “standing on a stool doing the dishes” because she’s too tiny to reach the sink. When she’s 10, Shyima’s captors move to California, illegally trafficking her into the U.S. After two more years of hard labor and increasing ill health, a worried neighbor calls the police, and Shyima’s journey into freedom begins. A chain of Muslim and Christian foster parents (some protective, others exploitative) leads her to become an anti-slavery activist. Unsurprisingly, Hall’s representations of Arab and Muslim men are filtered through her appalling experiences. Though she acknowledges misogyny “is not what the Muslim faith is about,” readers should expect to find depictions that hew closely to negative stereotypes. Those readers prepared to brave a dense, adult tome could move from Hall’s memoir to John Bowe’s Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy (2007) for a deeper look.

The proximity to pain makes for a choppy narrative but also vitally draws attention to a global crisis . (Nonfiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-8168-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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