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



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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An exercise in reading frustration.


Sixteen-year-old metal head Josh Walker whines his way through life.

Seemingly told through writings in a leather-bound journal given to him by his mother, the book follows Josh as he strives to achieve several goals before his 17th birthday. These goals range from kissing a girl to owning a Randy Rhoads Flying V Jackson guitar. It’s a shame that “gaining a larger sense of perspective” isn’t on the list. Despite presenting a list of objectives, the actual narrative is limp and shapeless. Josh is infuriatingly self-involved, so much so that the first-person perspective thwarts reader engagement. Everyone else in his life is interesting and dynamic and has other things going on, but Josh’s lack of concern for those around him makes it impossible for readers to glean anything beyond minor glimpses into a world with far more involving characters. Instead they get a novel filled with pointless teen grumblings and awkward sexual frustration. Most offensive is the novel’s denouement, which grants this shallow teen’s wishes for material things. Josh gets everything he wanted, and none of it is earned, just falling into his lap for no reason. Josh doesn’t become a better son, brother or friend, which makes the entire enterprise feel pointless.

An exercise in reading frustration. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-63079-000-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Switch/Capstone

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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A compelling novel that stands both on its own merit and as an addition to the wealth of Titanic literature.



The tragic tale of the Titanic serves as backdrop for a series of smaller familial tragedies.

Three girls board the luxurious ship with no idea that their fates are soon to be irrevocably entwined. Lucy’s hope for this trip is for her parents to show affection for each other, though her father’s dark personality makes this unlikely. Abby, Lucy’s maid, hopes her secrets go undetected long enough for her to start a new life in America. And Isabella hopes to discover why her parents woke her in the night and made her board the Titanic—alone. An entertaining series of mishaps, misunderstandings, and revelations play out on various decks as the well-known climax approaches, this knowledge increasing the tension even further. In her debut novel, Jane liberally sprinkles historic references amid the action, including Marconi’s wireless and the women’s suffrage movement, to fold an authentic educational experience into the story. Jane shines at atmospheric descriptions of the opulence of the ship and the people themselves while also managing to bring her powers of keen observation to the third-class passengers, many of whom were immigrant families full of hope. The characters are white and of European background and straddle several economic classes.

A compelling novel that stands both on its own merit and as an addition to the wealth of Titanic literature. (Historical fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-22665-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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