An attractively illustrated, engaging book that skillfully balances pride in the past with awareness of 21st-century...

I Like My Brown Skin Because...

CELEBRATING THE HERITAGE OF AFRICAN AMERICAN CHILDREN

An introduction to African-American history for young readers.

In this debut, Davis thematically organizes stories of noteworthy figures in 12 chapters featuring titles such as “I Am Beautiful” and “I Believe in Myself.” The book uses these people’s stories, from Joseph Cinque’s and Harriet Tubman’s to Paul Robeson’s and Mae Jemison’s, as a way to encourage children to take pride in African-American identity, and it stresses the connections among the generations: “When I see my beautiful brown face in the mirror, I see brown people who did great things before me, brown people who are doing great things now, and brown people who will still be doing great things when I am no longer here.” Sepia-tinted pencil illustrations appear on nearly every page, providing vivid depictions of West African customs, the interior of a slave ship, the Hampton Institute, and all-black units fighting in World War II. Davis goes beyond famous names to inform readers about less-celebrated figures as well, listing dozens of inventions patented by African-Americans. The text’s upbeat tone leaves room to address challenges that readers face, including police brutality (“do whatever is necessary to stay alive…our chief concern is that you survive”), and explains complex issues such as white privilege and intersectionality in age-appropriate terms. The result is a narrative that’s both serious and upbeat, suited for children to read independently as well as for parents to read aloud. A handful of misspellings (“Benjamin Benneker”; “Barry Gordy”) are noticeable but don’t detract from the overall impact. Davis has chosen compelling, varied stories as examples of success and urges readers to use them as reasons for taking pride in one’s skin color. Readers will have no difficulty agreeing with sentiments such as, “I Am Victorious” and “I Have Moral Strength.”

An attractively illustrated, engaging book that skillfully balances pride in the past with awareness of 21st-century challenges.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Epps-Alford Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2016

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A witty addition to the long-running series.

THE DEEP END

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 15

The Wimpy Kid hits the road.

The Heffley clan has been stuck living together in Gramma’s basement for two months, waiting for the family home to be repaired, and the constant togetherness has been getting on everybody’s nerves. Luckily Greg’s Uncle Gary has a camper waiting for someone to use it, and so the Heffleys set off on the open road looking for an adventurous vacation, hoping the changing scenery will bring a spark back to the family unit. The winding road leads the Heffleys to a sprawling RV park, a setting teeming with possibilities for Greg to get up to his usual shenanigans. Greg’s snarky asides and misadventures continue to entertain. At this point the Wimpy Kid books run like a well-oiled machine, paced perfectly with witty lines, smart gags, and charming cartoons. Kinney knows just where to put a joke, the precise moment to give a character shading, and exactly how to get the narrative rolling, spinning out the oddest plot developments. The appreciation Kinney has for these characters seeps through the novels, endearing the Heffleys to readers even through this title, the 15th installment in a franchise boasting spinoffs, movies, and merchandise. There may come a time when Greg and his family overstay their welcome, but thankfully that day still seems far off.

A witty addition to the long-running series. (Humor. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4868-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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