For readers invested in military and/or feminist history, this important book soars.

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A THOUSAND SISTERS

THE HEROIC AIRWOMEN OF THE SOVIET UNION IN WORLD WAR II

In her first work of nonfiction for teens, Wein (The Last Jedi, 2017, etc.) details the complex and inspiring story of the only women combat pilots of World War II.

The “Great Patriotic War” was already under way by the time Marina Raskova—a famous, record-breaking pilot—convinced the Soviet Union to create women’s air regiments. Using photographs and primary source quotations, Wein brings these regiments of young women to life, tracing their harrowing experiences before, during, and after the war. A detailed overview of the Russian political and social landscape in the first half of the 20th century is interwoven throughout the narrative, contextualizing the Soviet Union’s involvement in World War II. Wein thoughtfully addresses her readers’ contemporary understanding of identity politics, acknowledging the homogeneity of her white (despite the ethnic diversity of the USSR), straight subjects and the ways that Soviet ideologies about gender align with or differ from the expectations of contemporary American readers. The Soviet women’s experiences are placed in context through comparisons with the roles of women pilots in the Royal Air Force and the United States military. Vivid descriptions of their personal sacrifices and the deep bonds they formed connect readers to the story. Careful footnotes provide information about unfamiliar vocabulary, and pagelong sidebars round out the history with tangential but fascinating facts.

For readers invested in military and/or feminist history, this important book soars. (source notes, bibliography) (History. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-245301-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 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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Small but mighty necessary reading.

THE NEW QUEER CONSCIENCE

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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