Though there’s little new in this middle-grade self-help book, this strategic, confidence-building read is just enough to...

THE LIFE HEROIC

Svoboda’s inspirational offering begins with the story of a high school senior who bravely took the wheel of a school bus after the bus driver had a heart attack while driving. The author then asks her young readers to imagine what they would have done in that situation.

In an easy-to-read narrative, readers learn the myths of heroism and how it is truly the everyday acts of heroism that don’t make the news that matter. This book is for those that aspire to help the world, and it acts as a guide, providing chapters such as “Recognize Your Hero’s Journey,” which presents a condensed version of Joseph Campbell’s take on a hero’s evolution. Further chapters stress the importance of role models, giving examples of those that have already answered the call, like Phillip Zimbardo, who started the Heroic Imagination Project, which teaches young people to actively and confidently “do the right thing” when others are in need. The most inspiring chapter, “Transform Pain into Heroic Purpose,” coaches young people facing difficulty to transform their struggles into purpose by sharing their experiences in ways that can help others who are going through similar challenges.

Though there’s little new in this middle-grade self-help book, this strategic, confidence-building read is just enough to energize a young person who still feels hope to change the world one day at a time. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-942186-25-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Zest Books

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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FIVE THOUSAND YEARS OF SLAVERY

Sandwiched between telling lines from the epic of Gilgamesh (“…the warrior’s daughter, the young man’s bride, / he uses her, no one dares to oppose him”) and the exposure of a migrant worker–trafficking ring in Florida in the mid-1990s, this survey methodically presents both a history of the slave trade and what involuntary servitude was and is like in a broad range of times and climes. Though occasionally guilty of overgeneralizing, the authors weave their narrative around contemporary accounts and documented incidents, supplemented by period images or photos and frequent sidebar essays. Also, though their accounts of slavery in North America and the abolition movement in Britain are more detailed than the other chapters, the practice’s past and present in Africa, Asia and the Pacific—including the modern “recruitment” of child soldiers and conditions in the Chinese laogai (forced labor camps)—do come in for broad overviews. For timeliness, international focus and, particularly, accuracy, this leaves Richard Watkins’ Slavery: Bondage Throughout History (2001) in the dust as a first look at a terrible topic. (timeline, index; notes and sources on an associated website) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-88776-914-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2010

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Readers will marvel at Biyarslanov’s resilience and pluck.

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A YOUNG ATHLETE'S JOURNEY TO GOLD

No one chooses to be a refugee from a war-torn homeland, but if that is the hand you are dealt, try Arthur Biyarslanov’s approach.

Biyarslanov was born in Chechnya in 1995, as Chechen separatists waged their grindingly endless civil war against Russia. When he was 3, the family headed south to Azerbaijan. Spray captures little glimpses of Arthur’s young life—stealing fruit from the tree of his next-door neighbor and the old lady who gives him a talisman (a dog biscuit) to ward off jinni—as well as the sadness, lack of language, deprivation, and fear. The story here is of Arthur’s gradual rise in the world of sports, first in Azerbaijan and then after the family moved to Toronto, Canada. Spray conjures the strange settings refugees and immigrants find themselves in. “Hey little man, whatchoo lookin’ at anyhow?” asks a tall Jamaican teenage neighbor when Arthur lands in Toronto’s St. James Town projects. “I am no to English,” Arthur replies. “All be cool. I be no English too...is no big thang.” (Dialogue is not specifically sourced, but a teeny note on the copyright page indicates that Spray relies on extensive interviews.) Arthur is a whiz at soccer but chooses boxing, where he is even whizzier, rising from his first real bout at 12 to the Canadian Olympic team.

Readers will marvel at Biyarslanov’s resilience and pluck. (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77278-003-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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