Young politicians and political activists will find a great resource here, and future citizens from a number of backgrounds...

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E is for Election Day

Debut author Gavris and illustrator McCann (The Sick Bug Goes to School, 2010) team up in this alphabet book for older readers to introduce concepts of civic responsibility and political elections.

Beginning with “Aa is for American Elections,” Gavris and McCann introduce the idea of democracy and inform readers that their votes can help change laws and policies: “That is pretty powerful!” says the narrator. From ballots, conventions, and debates to the Internet and nomination papers, the book covers myriad topics directly and indirectly connected to governance. Sometimes, the author stretches the alphabet theme in order to convey important ideas; e.g., “Jj is for Judge for Yourself” seems a reach. “Xx is for eXit Polls,” however, is a sensible way to include a difficult letter with a relevant topic. “Zz is for Zig Zag,” when discussing how candidates “will be zigzagging through neighborhoods” to get votes, is an unlikely conclusion for the book. There’s plenty of great trivia here, like why the donkey and elephant became symbols for the major political parties and how Uncle Sam became an American icon, and adults as well as children may well learn something about the election process. The illustrations appropriately capture not only the diversity of American citizens, but the pomp of certain topics and the ridiculousness of others (voters who participated in the 2000 presidential election may groan at the memory of the hanging chad in “Rr is for Recount”). Despite the full-page, full-color illustrations, which show people of various ethnicities, abilities, and ages, this picture book may be too advanced for early readers. Also, the decision to organize the book alphabetically by topic (rather than as a step-by-step explanation of the election process) may confuse even older children. Still, the rich information creatively portrayed will captivate adventurous readers.

Young politicians and political activists will find a great resource here, and future citizens from a number of backgrounds will be glad to see themselves in the pictures.

Pub Date: June 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9962881-0-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Checkers Book Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2015

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Essential.

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THIS BOOK IS ANTI-RACIST

20 LESSONS ON HOW TO WAKE UP, TAKE ACTION, AND DO THE WORK

A guidebook for taking action against racism.

The clear title and bold, colorful illustrations will immediately draw attention to this book, designed to guide each reader on a personal journey to work to dismantle racism. In the author’s note, Jewell begins with explanations about word choice, including the use of the terms “folx,” because it is gender neutral, and “global majority,” noting that marginalized communities of color are actually the majority in the world. She also chooses to capitalize Black, Brown, and Indigenous as a way of centering these communities’ voices; "white" is not capitalized. Organized in four sections—identity, history, taking action, and working in solidarity—each chapter builds on the lessons of the previous section. Underlined words are defined in the glossary, but Jewell unpacks concepts around race in an accessible way, bringing attention to common misunderstandings. Activities are included at the end of each chapter; they are effective, prompting both self-reflection and action steps from readers. The activities are designed to not be written inside the actual book; instead Jewell invites readers to find a special notebook and favorite pen and use that throughout. Combining the disruption of common fallacies, spotlights on change makers, the author’s personal reflections, and a call to action, this powerful book has something for all young people no matter what stage they are at in terms of awareness or activism.

Essential. (author’s note, further reading, glossary, select bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4521-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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An incredible connector text for young readers eager to graduate to weighty conversations about our yesterday, our now, and...

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    Best Books Of 2019

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THE UNDEFEATED

Past and present are quilted together in this innovative overview of black Americans’ triumphs and challenges in the United States.

Alexander’s poetry possesses a straightforward, sophisticated, steady rhythm that, paired with Nelson’s detail-oriented oil paintings, carries readers through generations chronicling “the unforgettable,” “the undeniable,” “the unflappable,” and “the righteous marching ones,” alongside “the unspeakable” events that shape the history of black Americans. The illustrator layers images of black creators, martyrs, athletes, and neighbors onto blank white pages, patterns pages with the bodies of slaves stolen and traded, and extends a memorial to victims of police brutality like Sandra Bland and Michael Brown past the very edges of a double-page spread. Each movement of Alexander’s poem is a tribute to the ingenuity and resilience of black people in the U.S., with textual references to the writings of Gwendolyn Brooks, Martin Luther King Jr., Langston Hughes, and Malcolm X dotting stanzas in explicit recognition and grateful admiration. The book ends with a glossary of the figures acknowledged in the book and an afterword by the author that imprints the refrain “Black. Lives. Matter” into the collective soul of readers, encouraging them, like the cranes present throughout the book, to “keep rising.”

An incredible connector text for young readers eager to graduate to weighty conversations about our yesterday, our now, and our tomorrow. (Picture book/poetry. 6-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-78096-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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