A valuable account of an ordinary man who made extraordinary sacrifices.



From the Scholastic Focus series

A young readers’ adaptation of The Volunteer (2019), about a Polish resistance fighter who infiltrated Auschwitz.

At 38, Witold Pilecki was a gentleman farmer, a husband and father, and a second lieutenant in the cavalry reserves. Shortly after the Nazis invaded Poland, he joined the underground resistance movement and accepted a dangerous mission: infiltrating Auschwitz to learn what was happening behind its walls, attempting to create a resistance cell within the camp, then staging an escape. Pilecki allowed himself to be captured and sent there as a political prisoner. For nearly three years, he experienced firsthand the horrifying violence inflicted at Auschwitz as well as the gnawing hunger and infectious disease that dominated life in the camp. He set about creating resistance cells among fellow prisoners he felt he could trust, sending oral messages via prisoners who were released, in hopes this intelligence would reach the Allies and inspire them to action. As Auschwitz transformed from a violent prison camp to a death camp targeting primarily Jews, Pilecki’s drive to spur an uprising grew more urgent. The narrative moves at a fast clip, never pausing or slowing down for readers to process the many horrors described. Nevertheless, it represents an important perspective that adds yet another layer to what we know about the tragic legacy of Auschwitz. Maps and photographs enhance the text.

A valuable account of an ordinary man who made extraordinary sacrifices. (character list, abbreviations, selected bibliography, endnotes, index) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-68693-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic Focus

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Small but mighty necessary reading.


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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Though not the most balanced, an enlightening look back for the queer future.


An adaptation for teens of the adult title A Queer History of the United States (2011).

Divided into thematic sections, the text filters LGBTQIA+ history through key figures in each era from the 1500s to the present. Alongside watershed moments like the 1969 Stonewall uprising and the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, the text brings to light less well-known people, places, and events: the 1625 free love colony of Merrymount, transgender Civil War hero Albert D.J. Cashier, and the 1951 founding of the Mattachine Society, to name a few. Throughout, the author and adapter take care to use accurate pronouns and avoid imposing contemporary terminology onto historical figures. In some cases, they quote primary sources to speculate about same-sex relationships while also reminding readers of past cultural differences in expressing strong affection between friends. Black-and-white illustrations or photos augment each chapter. Though it lacks the teen appeal and personable, conversational style of Sarah Prager’s Queer, There, and Everywhere (2017), this textbook-level survey contains a surprising amount of depth. However, the mention of transgender movements and activism—in particular, contemporary issues—runs on the slim side. Whereas chapters are devoted to over 30 ethnically diverse gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer figures, some trans pioneers such as Christine Jorgensen and Holly Woodlawn are reduced to short sidebars.

Though not the most balanced, an enlightening look back for the queer future. (glossary, photo credits, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8070-5612-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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