A moving chronicle of a real humanitarian tragedy.

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THE UNWANTED

STORIES OF THE SYRIAN REFUGEES

The collective tale of Syrian refugees’ attempt to escape the horrors of their country’s civil war in search of a better tomorrow.

When war broke out in 2011 between the armed forces loyal to the country’s potentate and a growing number of insurgents fighting his tyrannical rule, millions of Syrians fled the war zone, overflowing neighboring countries and creating a refugee crisis in Europe, their wished-for ultimate destination. Rather than focusing on individual stories, Brown (Up & Down, 2018, etc.) zeroes in on particular situations, providing compassionate snapshots of the harsh realities facing the displaced populations: cunning smugglers, unwelcoming neighbors, hostile legislation, the refugees’ own disenchantment with their difficult conditions….Brown’s poignant testament is fittingly titled The Unwanted, as the book damningly chronicles the slowly building resentment among host communities and the mounting legal restrictions on the asylum-seeking populations. Most importantly, by alternating sheer tragic moments (rockets falling, the capsizing of a boat, drownings, rejection) and glimpses of joy (a child’s successful resettlement, a compassionate neighbor, family reunions), he succeeds in offering a window into the humanity of displaced groups—their resilience and tenacity but also their inspiring, hopeful nature. The pen-and-ink digitally colored art has a loose, informal style that vividly expresses the intense emotions contained in the book.

A moving chronicle of a real humanitarian tragedy.   (maps, author’s note, source notes, bibliography) (Graphic nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-81015-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today.

THEY CALLED US ENEMY

A beautifully heart-wrenching graphic-novel adaptation of actor and activist Takei’s (Lions and Tigers and Bears, 2013, etc.) childhood experience of incarceration in a World War II camp for Japanese Americans.

Takei had not yet started school when he, his parents, and his younger siblings were forced to leave their home and report to the Santa Anita Racetrack for “processing and removal” due to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The creators smoothly and cleverly embed the historical context within which Takei’s family’s story takes place, allowing readers to simultaneously experience the daily humiliations that they suffered in the camps while providing readers with a broader understanding of the federal legislation, lawsuits, and actions which led to and maintained this injustice. The heroes who fought against this and provided support to and within the Japanese American community, such as Fred Korematsu, the 442nd Regiment, Herbert Nicholson, and the ACLU’s Wayne Collins, are also highlighted, but the focus always remains on the many sacrifices that Takei’s parents made to ensure the safety and survival of their family while shielding their children from knowing the depths of the hatred they faced and danger they were in. The creators also highlight the dangerous parallels between the hate speech, stereotyping, and legislation used against Japanese Americans and the trajectory of current events. Delicate grayscale illustrations effectively convey the intense emotions and the stark living conditions.

A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60309-450-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Top Shelf Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

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

BANNED BOOK CLUB

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. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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