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A fictionalized memoir depicts an Indonesian child developing consciousness of activism on both local and global scales.

In episodic chapters, the narrator, born in Indonesia to an Indonesian father and a possibly American mother, recounts their upbringing in Indonesia and their growing awareness of activism against a corrupt authoritarian regime. (The narrator, possibly assumed to be the author, is never indicated by gendered pronoun and similarly does not mention any ethnic identity markers of their mother.) Nagara introduces young readers to many political concepts, including corruption, collusion, and nepotism, juxtaposed with dissidence, free speech, and populism. While those in power are mostly represented by the sinister, unnamed “Minister,” readers may infer the time period from the “NO KKN” slogan protesting the New Order of the Suharto period and mentions of the Soweto uprising in South Africa and activist groups such as the Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement in the United States. Nagara introduces broader concepts of diversity using the example of multicultural Indonesia, celebrating unity while not shying away from discrimination against the ethnic Chinese or those falling outside traditional gender roles. The extremely ambitious text sometimes feels disjointed, especially within the framework of a story that is not exactly true, though is still a powerful narrative that encourages long-term awareness, work, sacrifice, and patience in order to effect change for all people.

Inspiring. (Fiction/memoir. 9-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60980-935-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Triangle Square Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Though usually cast as the trickster, Coyote is more victim than victimizer, making this a nice complement to other Coyote...

Two republished tales by a Greco-Cherokee author feature both folkloric and modern elements as well as new illustrations.

One of the two has never been offered south of the (Canadian) border. In “Coyote Sings to the Moon,” the doo-wop hymn sung nightly by Old Woman and all the animals except tone-deaf Coyote isn’t enough to keep Moon from hiding out at the bottom of the lake—until she is finally driven forth by Coyote’s awful wailing. She has been trying to return to the lake ever since, but that piercing howl keeps her in the sky. In “Coyote’s New Suit” he is schooled in trickery by Raven, who convinces him to steal the pelts of all the other animals while they’re bathing, sends the bare animals to take clothes from the humans’ clothesline, and then sets the stage for a ruckus by suggesting that Coyote could make space in his overcrowded closet by having a yard sale. No violence ensues, but from then to now humans and animals have not spoken to one another. In Eggenschwiler’s monochrome scenes Coyote and the rest stand on hind legs and (when stripped bare) sport human limbs. Old Woman might be Native American; the only other completely human figure is a pale-skinned girl.

Though usually cast as the trickster, Coyote is more victim than victimizer, making this a nice complement to other Coyote tales. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55498-833-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Similar to the vignettes found in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, this book’s sentimental collection can’t help but...

Intended for ages 9-12, this collection of 10 true vignettes elucidate the bucket-filling philosophy of being a helpful and caring person.

There is a simple philosophy behind bucket filling. As Lundgren writes in her introduction, “We each have an invisible bucket. When it is full, we feel good—happy, peaceful, grateful, or loving. When it is empty, we feel bad—sad, lonely, angry, and frightened.” Ultimately, we must decide whether to be selfless “bucketfillers” or selfish “bucketdippers,” and through a series of short and sweet anecdotes, the book pushes the idea that it is far better to fill than to dip. The stories focus on regular folks who choose to be a positive force for others in small ways. There is the mom who picks up a gallon of gas for the new family at church and relates her story to the police officer who stops her for speeding. Hearing her story, the officer lets the woman go with only a warning—filling the woman’s bucket rather than dipping into it by issuing a ticket on Christmas Eve. Another vignette tells of a ballet dancer reminiscing about the high school teacher who not only allowed her to find solace in dance during the darkest days of her parents’ divorce, but was there with an extra hug when needed. While the stories are often overtly sentimental (seemingly cut from the same cloth as a Hallmark card commercial), each effectively demonstrates that it is just as easy to do good in this world as it is to do ill or nothing. All of the tales culminate with a set of discussion questions that allow the reader to bring her own insight into what she has just read; perfect for a classroom setting. This trains the reader to get into the proper mind-set to use the bucket-filling philosophy in her own life. Despite the book’s slight feel (10 stories in just over 100 pages), the reader will be left hard pressed not to fill more buckets in her life.

Similar to the vignettes found in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, this book’s sentimental collection can’t help but warm your heart.

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0984336609

Page Count: 110

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2010

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