A calm, cohesive take on a hot-button issue.

YOU CAN'T SAY THAT!

WRITERS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE TALK ABOUT CENSORSHIP, FREE EXPRESSION, AND THE STORIES THEY HAVE TO TELL

Thirteen prominent authors of children’s and young adult literature talk about one thing they all have in common: All have been the targets of attempts to ban or remove their work from schools and libraries.

Editor Marcus, a noted scholar who interviewed each writer, focuses his introduction on the history of censorship, including a simplistic summation of controversies around Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that spells out the N-word. Each author discusses their work, their personal history, and the reasons why they’ve been censored. Some, like Robie H. Harris and Susan Kuklin, came under attack for discussing sexuality and gender identity. Others, like Angie Thomas and Katherine Paterson, met with objections to swearing (in Thomas’ case, likely a cover for objections to political content). R.L. Stine faced accusations of his books’ promoting the occult. All the authors are positioned as important, powerful voices attacked by conservative censors, and the title may leave readers with the belief that any and all objections are equally wrong. Not taken into account are the subjects of librarians’ weeding collections of titles that may contain offensive stereotypes or booksellers’ deciding whether to stock books criticized for representation seen as harmful. While the text is accessible to middle schoolers, the content may be more interesting for adults in education and the publishing industry, though it disappointingly lacks a fully balanced spectrum of views and sacrifices complexity for a uniform message.

A calm, cohesive take on a hot-button issue. (source notes, selected reading, index) (Nonfiction. 13-adult)

Pub Date: July 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9036-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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Small but mighty necessary reading.

THE NEW QUEER CONSCIENCE

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Disingenuous when not willfully oblivious.

SO HELP ME GOD

The former vice president reflects warmly on the president whose followers were encouraged to hang him.

Pence’s calm during the Trump years has been a source of bemusement, especially during the administration’s calamitous demise. In this bulky, oddly uncurious political memoir, Pence suggests the source of his composure is simple: frequent prayer and bottomless patience for politicking. After a relatively speedy recap of his personal and political history in Indiana—born-again Christian, conservative radio host, congressman, governor—he remembers greeting the prospect of serving under Trump with enthusiasm. He “was giving voice to the desperation and frustration caused by decades of government mismanagement,” he writes. Recounting how the Trump-Pence ticket won the White House in 2016, he recalls Trump as a fundamentally hardworking president, albeit one who often shot from the hip. Yet Pence finds Trump’s impulsivity an asset, setting contentious foreign leaders and Democrats off-balance. Soon they settled into good cop–bad cop roles; he was “the gentler voice,” while “it was Trump’s job to bring the thunder.” Throughout, Pence rationalizes and forgives all sorts of thundering. Sniping at John McCain? McCain never really took the time to understand him! Revolving-door staffers? He’s running government like a business! That phone call with Ukraine’s president? Overblown! Downplaying the threat Covid-19 presented in early 2020? Evidence, somehow, of “the leadership that President Trump showed in the early, harrowing days of the pandemic.” But for a second-in-command to such a disruptive figure, Pence dwells little on Trump’s motivations, which makes the story’s climax—Trump’s 2020 election denials and the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection—impossible for him to reconcile. How could such a selfless patriot fall under the sway of bad lawyers and conspiracy theorists? God only knows. Chalk it up to Pence's forgiving nature. In the lengthy acknowledgments he thanks seemingly everybody he’s known personally or politically; but one name’s missing.

Disingenuous when not willfully oblivious.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2022

ISBN: 9781982190330

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022

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