A good-spirited, wholly serious broaching of the—incredibly—still-taboo subject of human waste, once a problem and even more...

REMAKING THE JOHN

THE INVENTION AND REINVENTION OF THE TOILET

A brief history of the crapper.

The toilet and its use has been called pretty much everything under the sun, from thunder bowl to “plucking a rose,” when the outhouse was located in the garden. DiPiazza covers them all in her illuminating history of the toilet—or, more to the point, disposal of human waste: “Half a solid pound (0.2 kilograms), plus 47 ounces (1.4 liters) of liquid....that’s how much feces and urine an adult human produces, on average, every day.” Those words are from the first two sentences of the book, so the giggles and snorts are dispensed with quickly, and we get down to the very real issue of waste and health. As humans took to settlements and populations increased, sewage became an instant issue. DiPiazza goes back to Deuteronomy for some historical setting before soldiering through most known waste-disposal tools and systems. Lurking always is waste-bred disease, like plague and cholera, which really step hard on the giggles and snorts. Public health and sanitation become the driving issues, which DiPiazza handles adeptly, with the accompaniment of many fine archival images and illustrations, as well as photographs.

A good-spirited, wholly serious broaching of the—incredibly—still-taboo subject of human waste, once a problem and even more so today. (Nonfiction. 11-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4677-2645-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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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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Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author.

CONTINUUM

From the Pocket Change Collective series

Deaf, trans artist Man meditates on his journey and identity in this brief memoir.

Growing up in conservative central Pennsylvania was tough for the 21-year-old Deaf, genderqueer, pansexual, and biracial (Chinese/White Jewish) author. He describes his gender and sexual identity, his experiences of racism and ableism, and his desire to use his visibility as a YouTube personality, model, and actor to help other young people like him. He is open and vulnerable throughout, even choosing to reveal his birth name. Man shares his experiences of becoming deaf as a small child and at times feeling ostracized from the Deaf community but not how he arrived at his current Deaf identity. His description of his gender-identity development occasionally slips into a well-worn pink-and-blue binary. The text is accompanied and transcended by the author’s own intriguing, expressionistic line drawings. However, Man ultimately falls short of truly insightful reflection or analysis, offering a mostly surface-level account of his life that will likely not be compelling to readers who are not already fans. While his visibility and success as someone whose life represents multiple marginalized identities are valuable in themselves, this heartfelt personal chronicle would have benefited from deeper introspection.

Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author. (Memoir. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-22348-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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