Jazz’s positivity, honesty, frank explanations, and conversational writing style make this an ideal book for trans kids to...

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BEING JAZZ

MY LIFE AS A (TRANSGENDER) TEEN

Before she was in preschool, Jazz knew she wasn’t a boy, and she didn’t understand why no one else did. Her parents took her to meet with a well-versed therapist, who told them Jazz is transgender, and they started on a journey with no map.

Obstinate school faculty and officials soon made it clear that there was no protocol for someone like Jazz, and the family’s necessary activism began in earnest, by way of an article in the local paper. That article got the attention of producers of a national TV show, who pursued Jazz’s family until they agreed to take a leap of faith and do an interview. Jazz’s mother became involved in public speaking at conferences, and she and Jazz began their outreach and advocacy work, even starting their own organization and agreeing to do a reality show. As Jennings relates, through it all, she manages to keep it apart from her typical teenage life, replete with summer-camp experiences, cute-but-jerky boys, best friends, and ex–best friends and marked with a passion for art and mermaids. Her outlook is bright, even as she struggles with depression—hereditary and unrelated to being trans. Jazz is fearlessly up front with people about being trans, and her gender meter is pinned on GIRL, but she also touches on gender variations and carefully stresses that not all trans people are like her.

Jazz’s positivity, honesty, frank explanations, and conversational writing style make this an ideal book for trans kids to hand to worried loved ones after they’ve finished reading it. (Nonfiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-55464-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today.

THEY CALLED US ENEMY

A beautifully heart-wrenching graphic-novel adaptation of actor and activist Takei’s (Lions and Tigers and Bears, 2013, etc.) childhood experience of incarceration in a World War II camp for Japanese Americans.

Takei had not yet started school when he, his parents, and his younger siblings were forced to leave their home and report to the Santa Anita Racetrack for “processing and removal” due to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The creators smoothly and cleverly embed the historical context within which Takei’s family’s story takes place, allowing readers to simultaneously experience the daily humiliations that they suffered in the camps while providing readers with a broader understanding of the federal legislation, lawsuits, and actions which led to and maintained this injustice. The heroes who fought against this and provided support to and within the Japanese American community, such as Fred Korematsu, the 442nd Regiment, Herbert Nicholson, and the ACLU’s Wayne Collins, are also highlighted, but the focus always remains on the many sacrifices that Takei’s parents made to ensure the safety and survival of their family while shielding their children from knowing the depths of the hatred they faced and danger they were in. The creators also highlight the dangerous parallels between the hate speech, stereotyping, and legislation used against Japanese Americans and the trajectory of current events. Delicate grayscale illustrations effectively convey the intense emotions and the stark living conditions.

A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60309-450-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Top Shelf Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

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This deeply personal and boldly political offering inspires and ignites.

THIS IS WHAT I KNOW ABOUT ART

From the Pocket Change Collective series

Curator, author, and activist Drew shares her journey as an artist and the lessons she has learned along the way.

Drew uses her own story to show how deeply intertwined activism and the arts can be. Her choices in college were largely overshadowed by financial need, but a paid summer internship at the Studio Museum in Harlem became a formative experience that led her to major in art history. The black artists who got her interested in the field were conspicuously absent in the college curriculum, however, as was faculty support, so she turned her frustration into action by starting her own blog to boost the work of black artists. After college, Drew’s work in several arts organizations, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, only deepened her commitment to making the art world more accessible to people of color and other marginalized groups, such as people with disabilities, and widening the scope of who is welcomed there. Drew narrates deeply personal experiences of frustration, triumph, progress, learning, and sometimes-uncomfortable growth in a conversational tone that draws readers in, showing how her specific lens enabled her to accomplish the work she has done but ultimately inviting readers to add their own contributions, however small, to both art and protest.

This deeply personal and boldly political offering inspires and ignites. (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09518-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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