A tense adventure about interracial adoption that gets to the heart of what’s most important: love.

MARTHA AND THE SLAVE CATCHERS

The life of a Connecticut girl is turned upside down by the Fugitive Slave Act.

In her debut for young readers, Alonso introduces readers to a bandaged and badly bruised 14-year-old Martha Bartlett as she reads a letter from her white abolitionist father, an Underground Railroad “station keeper,” about her ailing mother, a white Quaker who helps him. Readers learn how Martha received her injuries in a flashback that begins with the arrival of her adopted brother, Jake, the infant free son of a runaway, possibly mixed-race teenager named Mariah and her slave owner, when Martha was 6. Jake’s origin and what readers will likely see as autism challenge his family’s love and communal concern as they all create a web of lies and other safeguards to protect him. When Martha unintentionally leaves Jake, now 7, alone, slave catchers kidnap the boy and take him back to Maryland. Martha—spurred by her own guilt, the shocking revelation about her own beginnings, and the attendant casual racism regarding her birth that romantically devastates her—decides to cross the Mason-Dixon Line to bring Jake home. Alonso pens an informative, easy-to-follow adventure story that nevertheless tackles the persistent issues arising from antebellum America, including race and skin color, situational ethics and their devastating consequences, and allyship and using privilege for justice.

A tense adventure about interracial adoption that gets to the heart of what’s most important: love. (author’s note, maps) (Historical fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60980-800-6

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Triangle Square Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Racial and cultural stereotypes accompanied by an ill-constructed plot do a disservice to young readers unfamiliar with this...

THE DEVIL'S DEN

It’s 1881, and Brody Martin and his adult Cherokee friend, Joseph, are on the run in Indian Territory.

Joseph’s son, Todd, is hidden away with Brody’s parents after an attack by a “madman” in the previous book of this trilogy, The Devil’s Trap (2011). Brody needs to go warn his best friend, Ames, an adult African-American man, that there are bounty hunters looking for the both of them due to an unfortunate run-in with the nefarious Miller family. Concerned for Brody’s safety, Joseph asks his elderly father, Wolf Jaw, to travel with Brody for protection. Wolf reluctantly agrees even though he doesn’t trust white people or speak English—in fact, he doesn’t show any emotion when Brody tries to communicate with him. Much action involving bounty hunters ensues. Babb takes late-1800s Arkansas and lays on it a tale featuring weak, stereotypical portrayals of African-Americans and Native Americans who play supporting roles for the white male protagonist. Instead of referring to these characters by name, they are often referred to as “the black man” or “the Indian.” Though all of these characters live within the same region, the African-American characters speak in dialect (“I knowed they was a bounty out”) while their fellow Arkansans do not. Wolf dons war paint and whoops for no apparent reason other than adding exotic flavor.

Racial and cultural stereotypes accompanied by an ill-constructed plot do a disservice to young readers unfamiliar with this time period. (Historical fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-945268-04-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Plum Street Publishers

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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