THIS PROMISE OF CHANGE

ONE GIRL’S STORY IN THE FIGHT FOR SCHOOL EQUALITY

Powerful storytelling of a not-so-distant past.

An autobiographical account in verse of a teen pioneering school desegregation in the South.

Jo Ann Allen lives up on a hill with the other black residents of Clinton, Tennessee. They travel to Knoxville to attend the black schools, but in 1956, two years after the Brown v. Board of Educationdecision, a judge in Knoxville tells Clinton officials that they must integrate immediately. Jo Ann is one of 12 black students who enroll in the all-white Clinton High School. With co-author Levy, she tells her story of that year in poems grouped by her relationship to her town (“Mine, Theirs and Ours”; “Fear,” etc.). Most of the white people who support the black students do so only out of civic duty to obey the law. Still, there are moments of hope, as when her white classmates elect her vice president of their homeroom; it seems she might make friends. But then hatred and violence overtake the town of Clinton, necessitating federal law enforcement to keep the peace. Readers will empathize with Jo Ann’s honest incredulity: “Mouths spewing insults. / (Do these mouths sing hymns on Sunday? / Do they say ‘I love you’?)” One timely poem remembers a local election in which “every single / white supremacist / segregationist / candidate / lost.” Such gems relevant to today’s politics, along with the narrator’s strong inner voice, make this offering stand out.

Powerful storytelling of a not-so-distant past. (epilogue, authors’ notes, photos, timeline, sources, bibliography, further reading) (Verse memoir. 9-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68119-852-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

50 IMPRESSIVE KIDS AND THEIR AMAZING (AND TRUE!) STORIES

From the They Did What? series

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.

Why should grown-ups get all the historical, scientific, athletic, cinematic, and artistic glory?

Choosing exemplars from both past and present, Mitchell includes but goes well beyond Alexander the Great, Anne Frank, and like usual suspects to introduce a host of lesser-known luminaries. These include Shapur II, who was formally crowned king of Persia before he was born, Indian dancer/professional architect Sheila Sri Prakash, transgender spokesperson Jazz Jennings, inventor Param Jaggi, and an international host of other teen or preteen activists and prodigies. The individual portraits range from one paragraph to several pages in length, and they are interspersed with group tributes to, for instance, the Nazi-resisting “Swingkinder,” the striking New York City newsboys, and the marchers of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Mitchell even offers would-be villains a role model in Elagabalus, “boy emperor of Rome,” though she notes that he, at least, came to an awful end: “Then, then! They dumped his remains in the Tiber River, to be nommed by fish for all eternity.” The entries are arranged in no evident order, and though the backmatter includes multiple booklists, a personality quiz, a glossary, and even a quick Braille primer (with Braille jokes to decode), there is no index. Still, for readers whose fires need lighting, there’s motivational kindling on nearly every page.

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats. (finished illustrations not seen) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-751813-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

PLAY LIKE A GIRL

A sincere, genuine, and uplifting book that affirms the importance of being true to yourself.

Middle school drama hits hard in this coming-of-age graphic memoir.

Natural competitor Misty has faced off against the boys for years, always coming out on top, but now they’re moving on without her into the land of full-contact football. Never one to back away from a challenge, Misty resolves to join the team and convinces her best friend, Bree, to join her. While Misty pours herself into practicing, obviously uninterested Bree—who was motivated more by getting to be around boys than doing sports—drifts toward popular queen bee Ava, creating an uneasy dynamic. Feeling estranged from Bree, Misty, who typically doesn’t think much about her appearance, tries to navigate seventh grade—even experimenting with a more traditionally feminine gender expression—while also mastering her newfound talent for tackling and facing hostility from some boys on the team. Readers with uncommon interests will relate to the theme of being the odd one out. Social exclusion and cutting remarks can be traumatic, so it’s therapeutic to see Misty begin to embrace her differences instead of trying to fit in with frenemies who don’t value her. The illustrations are alive with color and rich emotional details, pairing perfectly with the heartfelt storytelling. The husband-and-wife duo’s combined efforts will appeal to fans of Raina Telgemeier and Shannon Hale. Main characters present as White; some background characters read as Black.

A sincere, genuine, and uplifting book that affirms the importance of being true to yourself. (Graphic memoir. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-306469-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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