One teen’s vision of hope shines through.



An African-American teen explores the way his life has been affected by his imprisoned relative and racial profiling.

Fifteen-year-old Johnathan Harris tells his story in a graphic format that enhances his young voice. Johnathan and his close-knit working-class family (mom’s a nurse, dad’s a probation officer) live in Long Beach, California, but one of the biggest influences in his life, his uncle Russell, is serving time in Chuckawalla Valley State Prison, four hours away. “Crazy, right? My dad works in law enforcement and my uncle’s in jail.” Despite this, Johnathan’s uncle provides guidance during visits and via other communication, encouraging him to understand and appreciate both his culture and those of others. Both early trauma and incidents as an older child playing soccer and in Boy Scouts make Johnathan question his uncle’s efforts to get him to relinquish skin color prejudice, but he is ultimately able to hold onto those teachings. This memoir has a strong authentic youth voice and reflects a young teen’s perspective. The full-color graphics are a strong accompaniment, often using visual metaphor. The concept of “colorblindness” is a dubious one, but it is Johnathan’s efforts to avoid racial bitterness as he grows into manhood that come through. This volume, part of a series of graphic novels written by young adults, includes additional biographical information, information for parents, and teacher support (through the publisher’s website).

One teen’s vision of hope shines through. (Graphic memoir. 11-14)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947378-12-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Zuiker Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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Give this a pass: much clearer pictures of what DNA does and the strong personalities who were involved in winkling out its...



From the Campfire Heroes series

The story of the discovery of the structure of DNA, in graphic format.

Failing to take advantage of either the format or the historic search’s drama, this rendition presents a portentous account heavy on explication and melodramatic rhetoric and featuring a cast of grimacing or pinched-looking figures spouting wooden dialogue. Watson: “So if we combine our research with Rosalind’s data and…” Crick: “And Linus’s approach of building models. We might be able to figure this out.” Helfand diffuses the focus by paying nearly as much attention to the childhoods and early careers of Linus Pauling, Maurice Wilkins, and Rosalind Franklin as he does to Watson and Crick but downplays the rivalries that drove the race. Also, for all the technical detail he injects (“the phosphates would have to be on the outside”) and further explanations in the back, readers will be left in the dark about the role of genes, how DNA actually works, or even the significance of its double helix structure. A closing note about the contributions of Indian-born Nobelist Har Gobind Khorana adds a note of diversity to the all-white cast.

Give this a pass: much clearer pictures of what DNA does and the strong personalities who were involved in winkling out its secrets are available. (Graphic nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-93-81182-21-5

Page Count: 92

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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This inspiring book will encourage activism.



Marching for the rights of all—children, Black people, women, Indigenous people, DREAMers, the LGBTQ+ community, disabled individuals, and many others—is explored in this history.

From the children who walked with Mother Jones from Pennsylvania to New York in 1903 to speak for better youth labor laws to the worldwide Youth Climate Strike in March 2019, all kinds of marches—many linked to children and youth—are described in lively language and illustrated with bright cartoons that emphasize diversity among participants and illustrate the banners and posters carried. Each two-page spread contains a short history of each march and the actions taken, set in dense type, along with one or two quotes from organizers. Some, like the Longest Walk, a 1978 march from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., undertaken by Indigenous people to bring attention to 11 Congressional bills that threatened sovereignty, were weeks or months long. Widely known events like the recent Women’s March in January 2017 and actions known only to a few historians, like the 1943 march of Bulgarian Jews against the Holocaust, receive equal treatment. Connections among marches and themes repeated due to unchanging social and political conditions are pointed out and are one of the book’s strengths. The visually appealing last spread shows a timeline of each event placed on a long winding road. There is neither a table of contents nor an index, but the information presented is accessible and should really be read straight through for greatest impact. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 27.3% of actual size.)

This inspiring book will encourage activism. (sources, further reading) (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4270-2

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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