Superb versions for reading alone or for sharing with audiences large or small.

TREASURY OF GREEK MYTHOLOGY

CLASSIC STORIES OF GODS, GODDESSES, HEROES & MONSTERS

Oft-told tales retold with uncommon verve and outfitted with resplendent Art Deco–style portraits.

Napoli opens with the rise of the “mother force” Gaia to bring order to the whirling elements of Chaos and closes with the devastation of the Trojan War (“the doing of gods with too much time on their hands”). In between, she introduces over two dozen immortals and heroes—including Hestia, Helios and Selene among the better-known Olympians and their mortal offspring. While somehow managing to keep all the sex inexplicit (Aphrodite is born, for instance, from the “foam” produced by an unspecified body part ripped from her father Uranus), she lays out clear family lines. She pays close attention to her narrative’s tone and sound, capturing the nature of each god or mortal with vivid turns of phrase: Peaceable Hestia considers Zeus a “frightful maniac,” Orion grows up to become “an insufferably pompous nitwit” and Selene is left to pine, “silver sweet, and soft, and sad,” for her eternally sleeping lover, Endymion. Applying rippling strokes of intense color, Balit opens with a shimmering family tree of Olympians, heads each chapter with a stylized full-body image of a mythological figure with associated emblems and symbols and also contributes interior illustrations and thumbnail portraits for the closing summary cast list.

Superb versions for reading alone or for sharing with audiences large or small. (Mythology. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4263-0844-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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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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A slim volume big on historical information and insight.

COME ON IN, AMERICA

THE UNITED STATES IN WORLD WAR I

A wide-ranging exploration of World War I and how it changed the United States forever.

Students who know anything about history tend to know other wars better—the Civil War, World War II, Vietnam. But it was World War I that changed America and ushered in a new role for the United States as a world political and economic leader. Two million Americans were sent to the war, and in the 19 months of involvement in Europe, 53,000 Americans were killed in battle, part of the staggering total death toll of 10 million, a war of such magnitude that it transformed the governments and economies of every major participant. Osborne’s straightforward text is a clear account of the war itself and various related topics—African-American soldiers, the Woman’s Peace Party, the use of airplanes as weapons for the first time, trench warfare, and the sinking of the Lusitania. Many archival photographs complement the text, as does a map of Europe (though some countries are lost in the gutter). A thorough bibliography includes several works for young readers. A study of World War I offers a context for discussing world events today, so this volume is a good bet for libraries and classrooms—a well-written treatment that can replace dry textbook accounts.

A slim volume big on historical information and insight. (timeline, source notes, credits) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2378-0

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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