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A necessary title for young people to explore.

In their third title together, Silverberg and Smyth build on their middle-grade title Sex Is a Funny Word (2015) to explicitly talk about puberty, bodies, gender, and sex for tween and teen audiences.

Mimi, Omar, Cooper, and Zai are back and ready for their sex-education class at Jordan Middle School. The creators get their ideas across through descriptive illustrations as well as vignettes that feature the four main characters and others. In what many readers will recognize as their signature approach, they tackle often confusing topics (you know, sex) against a delightfully diverse backdrop of skin tones, body sizes, and abilities in a fun, text-heavy style infused with warmth, humor, and emotional intelligence. The visual representations of changing bodies are especially impactful (labias! hair growth!), as is the inclusion of information about critical topics such as boundaries, consent, and clear communication that are too often left out of sex-ed curricula. In a preliminary note to readers, Silverberg advises that they may need to take breaks given the intensity of some of the material. More white space or a clearer visual demarcation of the excellent activities that appear after individual sections would have been helpful, as the combination of the boldly colored, striking visuals and at times heavy topics may leave readers overwhelmed. Dipping into this ambitious work, especially with a caring, trusted adult, may be the best way to digest the multitude of topics covered.

A necessary title for young people to explore. (glossary, index, resources) (Nonfiction. 11-18)

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64421-080-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Triangle Square Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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Telgemeier has created an utterly charming graphic memoir of tooth trauma, first crushes and fickle friends, sweetly reminiscent of Judy Blume’s work. One night, Raina trips and falls after a Girl Scout meeting, knocking out her two front teeth. This leads to years of painful surgeries, braces, agonizing root canals and other oral atrocities. Her friends offer little solace through this trying ordeal, spending more of their time teasing than comforting her. After years of these girls’ constant belittling, Raina branches out and finds her own voice and a new group of friends. Young girls will relate to her story, and her friend-angst is palpable. Readers should not overlook this seemingly simply drawn work; the strong writing and emotionally expressive characters add an unexpected layer of depth. As an afterword, the author includes a photo of her smiling, showing off the results of all of the years of pain she endured. Irresistible, funny and touching—a must read for all teenage girls, whether en-braced or not. (Graphic memoir. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-13205-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bantam Discovery

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A tribute to young people’s resistance in the face of oppression.

In 1983 South Korea, Kim was learning to navigate university and student political activism.

The daughter of modest restaurant owners, Kim was apolitical—she just wanted to make her parents proud and be worthy of her tuition expenses. Following an administrator’s advice to avoid trouble and pursue extracurriculars, she joined a folk dance team where she met a fellow student who invited her into a banned book club. Kim was fearful at first, but her thirst for knowledge soon won out. As she learned the truth of her country’s oppressive fascist political environment, Kim became closer to the other book club members while the authorities grew increasingly desperate to identify and punish student dissidents. The kinetic manhwa drawing style skillfully captures the personal and political history of this eye-opening memoir. The disturbing elements of political corruption and loss of human rights are lightened by moving depictions of sweet, funny moments between friends as well as deft political maneuvering by Kim herself when she was eventually questioned by authorities. The art and dialogue complement each other as they express the tension that Kim and her friends felt as they tried to balance school, family, and romance with surviving in a dangerous political environment. References to fake news and a divisive government make this particularly timely; the only thing missing is a list for further reading.

A tribute to young people’s resistance in the face of oppression. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-945820-42-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Iron Circus Comics

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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