COLORBLIND

A STORY OF RACISM

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. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

WHY DO WE FIGHT?

CONFLICT, WAR, AND PEACE

As an overview of global conflict, it’s concise and accessible—remarkably so—but as a call to individual action, it’s less...

A penetrating look into the roots of global conflict, the many ways it can begin and possible resolutions.

Attempting to answer the question “Why do we fight?” is ambitious from the start. Following a natural arc by explaining different types of conflict and then contemplating ways conflict can escalate, Walker touches on topics that could each have their own book. However, she keeps the pace lively and the flow of information smooth. Preteen readers may anticipate finding solutions to conflicts in their everyday life, but instead, the focus is on global issues: fighting over natural resources, culture clashes, religious beliefs, etc. Underlying parallels to personal practice can certainly be drawn, but it is not the ultimate purpose of this work. Designed in a visual, infographic style with bold headlines and a sharp yellow, black and white color scheme, the sunny layout provides structure and bounce to a dense topic. In a concluding chapter entitled “What do YOU think?” Walker encourages readers to use their newfound knowledge and tolerance to become global activists. A laudable goal, but directions to getting involved with organizations such as UNICEF’s Voices of Youth or Amnesty International would have been appreciated.

As an overview of global conflict, it’s concise and accessible—remarkably so—but as a call to individual action, it’s less successful. (sources, index, author’s note) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-926973-86-9

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

GIRLS VS. GUYS

SURPRISING DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE SEXES

Readers will learn some basic facts about sex differences, but it'll take some extra leaps on their parts to connect all the...

Bite-sized pieces of scientific research seek to illuminate the gender gap.

Taking a mostly humorous approach, Rosen examines the stereotypes that paint men as the ones who never ask for directions and women as the ones who talk all the time. Some of these stereotypes turn out to be rooted in biology and can be demonstrated scientifically, such as how room temperature affects how men and women learn. Others are more a product of society and culture, such as women smiling more than men due to sex roles in the media. Each stereotype is covered in a short, two-page spread, featuring full-color photos and well-written text that doesn't try too hard to be cool. In a few instances, Rosen doesn't make enough of a connection between nature and nurture, though—like not pointing out the societal impact of boys’ demonstrated tendency to equate girls with power tools when looking them at the beach. Without going deeper into these stereotypes, this title remains on the surface.

Readers will learn some basic facts about sex differences, but it'll take some extra leaps on their parts to connect all the dots to understand just what it all means. (source notes, selected bibliography, further resources, index) (Nonfiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4677-1610-9

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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