A solid civics and civil-liberties primer.




Based on the Canadian animated video series of the same name, this collection of six stories about a diverse democratic city and its governing body frames some of the very important conversations that adults need to have with children about rights and freedoms and accepting difference.

Each story begins with a problem facing the councilors or the citizens, which is then followed by a vote on some law—but the real lesson comes when the execution of the laws brings unintended and “unfair” consequences. Mayor Moe observes the squabbling, untidy city council and decides to impose a uniform, for instance. This excludes Councillors Twist and Cuddly, who are required by their religions to wear head coverings, so the city council re-examines its law. Councillor Bug often breaks the fourth wall to point out when a law or consequence of a law is unfair. It’s a kid-friendly device, as is the book’s built-in interactive element. Each story ends with an extended discussion, followed by questions. These questions (What was the purpose of the law? Was it achieved? Were there any problems that arose from it?) will prompt conversations and ensure clarity on the messages received from each tale. Further reinforcement comes in a wrap-up note at the end. Patel’s comical illustrations, also based on the animated series, are consistently entertaining; the vibrant and charismatic creatures offer a rainbow of fur colors and body types and a broad range of expressions.

A solid civics and civil-liberties primer. (Nonfiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77138-208-3

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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More-systematic treatments abound, but the airy tone and quick-facts presentation give this some potential as a...



From the Basher History series

In Basher’s latest set of breezy “self”-portraits, 58 gods, demigods and mythological creations of diverse sort step up in turn to the microphone.

The entrants are limited to the ancient Egyptian, Norse and Greco-Roman pantheons and arranged in no particular order within their respective chapters. They range from the usual celebrities like Poseidon (“rhymes with ‘Joe Biden’ ”), Odin and Osiris to some who have gotten less press, such as Hebe—“Waitress to the Olympians”—and Gefjon, Aesir goddess of plowing. Along with mixing in such non-Olympians as Odysseus, Budzik swells the ranks by lending voices to Bifrost, Yggdrasil and even the battle of Ragnarok. The author’s introductory claim that the gods gave mortals “something to believe in and ideals to aspire to when life was looking bleak” is massively disingenuous considering the speakers’ own accounts of their exploits (Hel complains, “It’s really grim here. I get the dreariest dead”). Nevertheless, the sex and violence are toned down to, for instance, Hera’s tart reference to “my hubby’s mortal girlfriends” and Isis’ allusion to “complicated family vibes” (following her brother/husband Osiris’ dismemberment by their brother, Seth). In a radical departure for Basher, some of his dolllike cartoon figures bear grimaces rather than cutesy smiles.

More-systematic treatments abound, but the airy tone and quick-facts presentation give this some potential as a lighter-than-air refresher. (chart and foldout poster of Greek/Roman equivalents) (Mythology. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7534-7171-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Kingfisher

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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A welcome addition to children’s nonfiction from a master photojournalist.



Large, full-color photographs accompany the true story of one man’s efforts to bring together people of three religions by helping them create a Fair Trade–certified coffee-selling cooperative.

“As the sun sets in eastern Uganda, the blazing heat fades and a cool wind settles in the valley.” This opening, which continues with information about work and play in the “small, dusty village of Namanyonyi,” sits beneath a photo showing children playing soccer (called futbol in the text) in the twilight. Opposite this, there is a map that shows the route of coffee beans from Namanyonyi to the port of Mombasa. After a few more pages about contemporary life in rural Namanyonyi, the text backtracks to tell how all three Abrahamic religions arrived in the area. Next, the musician J.J. Keki is introduced, along with his inspiration for starting the cooperative: both his near miss from being victimized by the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, on a visit to the United States from his native Uganda, and the tolerant children of Namanyonyi. The text discusses the coffee cooperative’s history, looks at Fair Trade, and contains a basic primer on the art of coffee farming. Sobol’s text is accessible and graceful, and the numerous, captivating photographs take readers to Namanyonyi, its places of worship, and the coffee plantation. Work, faith, and joy are equally celebrated. The tone of the book is hopeful and inspiring.

A welcome addition to children’s nonfiction from a master photojournalist. (author’s note, glossary, sources) (Nonfiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-60060-450-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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