Fleischer’s primer tenders a wealth of insight in a generous and welcoming manner.

VOTES OF CONFIDENCE

A YOUNG PERSON'S GUIDE TO AMERICAN ELECTIONS

Neither the American electoral nor political process is simple. And if you think so, you’ve likely got it wrong.

Fortunately, self-described political nerd Fleischer is here to clarify things. In a particularly winning voice, abetted by numerous intriguing anecdotes and trivia, Fleischer commences at the beginning, with an origin story (Revolution, Articles of Confederation, Constitution, Bill of Rights), before moving on to mechanics. He issues an implicit challenge with his introduction—“If there’s one thing we know for sure about American government, it’s that a lot of Americans don’t know much about it”—and then goes on to make sure readers buck that trend. His discussion of the electoral college is a fine example of his compressive clarity: the college is a compromise measure to rein in populous states while avoiding the pitfalls of giving too much power to Congress and state legislatures. It has its drawbacks, but it is not as egregious as push polling (“one of the sleaziest of political dirty tricks”) or hindering voter registration. Fleischer works plenty of civics and history into this study of the revelatory power of politics—“Strom Thurmond and George Wallace demonstrated that racists were a large voting bloc”—so his closing suggestions on how readers can get involved and be heard are perfectly placed.

Fleischer’s primer tenders a wealth of insight in a generous and welcoming manner. (resources) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-936976-90-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Zest Books

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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Small but mighty necessary reading.

THE NEW QUEER CONSCIENCE

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 awkward, this adaptation still makes for a hopeful and inspiring story.

DISCOVERING WES MOORE

This story, an adaptation for young people of the adult memoir The Other Wes Moore (2008), explores the lives of two young African-American men who share the same name and grew up impoverished on the same inner-city streets but wound up taking completely different paths.

Author Moore grew up with a devoted mother and extended family. After receiving poor grades and falling in with a bad crowd, his family pooled their limited finances to send him to Valley Forge Military Academy, where he found positive role models and became a Corps commander and star athlete. After earning an undergraduate degree, Wes attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. When the author read about the conviction of another Wes Moore for armed robbery and killing a police officer, he wanted to find out how two youths growing up at the same time in the same place could take such divergent paths. The author learns that the other Wes never had the extensive family support, the influential mentors or the lucky breaks he enjoyed. Unfortunately, the other Wes Moore is not introduced until over two-thirds of the way through the narrative. The story of the other Wes is heavily truncated and rushed, as is the author's conclusion, in which he argues earnestly and convincingly that young people can overcome the obstacles in their lives when they make the right choices and accept the support of caring adults.

Though awkward, this adaptation still makes for a hopeful and inspiring story. (Memoir. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-74167-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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