With an appealing design and many black-and-white photographs, this paints a vivid, detailed picture of an important labor...

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STRIKE!

THE FARM WORKERS' FIGHT FOR THEIR RIGHTS

A skillful, compelling account of the complicated history of César Chávez and the farm workers movement, set in the context of the social and political tensions of the times.

“We used to own our slaves. Now we just rent them,” said a farmer in Harvest of Shame, a 1960 documentary about migrant workers. Union leader Chávez started picking produce as an adolescent and knew firsthand the brutal conditions farmworkers endured. Driven to change those conditions and raise wages, Chávez worked ceaselessly to organize California’s migrant workers into a union, which became the United Farm Workers. It successfully pioneered the use of boycotts to support strikes and adopted techniques such as fasting and protest marches from Gandhi and the civil rights movement. But hard-won victories were followed by setbacks at the hands of powerful farm owners and their Teamster allies. The UFW also suffered from increasing tension between Chávez and Filipino-American union leaders, while others criticized Chávez’s emphasis on Catholicism and his aversion to dissent. Brimner’s evenhanded, well-researched narrative uses apt quotes to convey a sense of the people, their actions and their emotions. Appropriately enough, green and purple accent the pages.

With an appealing design and many black-and-white photographs, this paints a vivid, detailed picture of an important labor movement and its controversial yet inspiring leader. (author’s note, further reading, websites, places to visit, source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59078-997-1

Page Count: 170

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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Those preparing to “slay the sucktastic beast known as high school” will particularly appreciate this spirited read.

MOMENTOUS EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS

From the Life of a Cactus series

In the sequel to Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus (2017), Aven Green confronts her biggest challenge yet: surviving high school without arms.

Fourteen-year-old Aven has just settled into life at Stagecoach Pass with her adoptive parents when everything changes again. She’s entering high school, which means that 2,300 new kids will stare at her missing arms—and her feet, which do almost everything hands can (except, alas, air quotes). Aven resolves to be “blasé” and field her classmates’ pranks with aplomb, but a humiliating betrayal shakes her self-confidence. Even her friendships feel unsteady. Her friend Connor’s moved away and made a new friend who, like him, has Tourette’s syndrome: a girl. And is Lando, her friend Zion’s popular older brother, being sweet to Aven out of pity—or something more? Bowling keenly depicts the universal awkwardness of adolescence and the particular self-consciousness of navigating a disability. Aven’s “armless-girl problems” realistically grow thornier in this outing, touching on such tough topics as death and aging, but warm, quirky secondary characters lend support. A few preachy epiphanies notwithstanding, Aven’s honest, witty voice shines—whether out-of-reach vending-machine snacks are “taunting” her or she’s nursing heartaches. A subplot exploring Aven’s curiosity about her biological father resolves with a touching twist. Most characters, including Aven, appear white; Zion and Lando are black.

Those preparing to “slay the sucktastic beast known as high school” will particularly appreciate this spirited read. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4549-3329-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Melodramatic but definitively all over the place contentwise.

WHERE SHE FELL

A teenager battles social anxiety disorder and giant bugs in a subterranean world.

When two bad friends to whom she’s been clinging trick her into venturing into the ominously named Drowners Swamp, Eliza falls into a sinkhole that leads into a seemingly endless cave system. Being an avid fan of caves and geology, Eliza is as enthralled as she is terrified—a mix of emotions that remains unaltered as she encounters a small community of likewise trapped people surviving on a diet of outsized spiders and cave insects. Weeks later she is captured (briefly, thanks to a conveniently timed spider attack) by bioluminescent humanoids. All the while, despite having been in therapy for years, she continually denigrates herself for panic attacks and freezing up around others. Her emotional reactions take up so much of the narrative, in fact, that for all its lurid, occasionally gruesome turns, it’s hard to tell whether character or action drives the story more. In the event, Eliza is surprised to find reserves of inner strength—and a chance at personal transformation—through her ordeal. The first-person narration is punctuated with excerpts and sketches from Eliza’s journal. Except for one character with brown skin, the nonglowing cast defaults to white. Warring themes and elements give this outing a distinct feel of multiple stories yoked together by violence.

Melodramatic but definitively all over the place contentwise. (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-23007-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Point/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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