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A lively, carefully researched, and clearly written narrative.

This first-class history of an essential democratic institution should be a priority for young readers.

Besides connecting us, since Colonial days the post office has fostered the expansion and improvement of roads, employment opportunities, provision of medical supplies, transportation, voting access, economic development, and more. Among the surprising facts shared: Mail could be sent without stamps until 1856 (the recipient had to pay to receive the letter), and originally, like other public services, mail delivery was not expected to be profitable. Three separate chapters are devoted to African Americans, women, and Latine, Asian, and Native Americans, testifying to the country’s history of systemic bias as well as contributions made by people from these communities. A chapter on the United States Postal Inspection Service is revealing: Mail train robberies, mail theft, and fraud have long tempted grifters. Sections on the future of the USPS, especially in light of 2022 reform legislation and flourishing anti-government sentiment, are notably thorough and evenhanded. Among the abundant, engaging, and informative photos are mule-train and reindeer-team delivery systems; the classical James Farley building, formerly the site of New York City’s central post office; and both famous and ordinary people who have made this public service work. The colorful and attractive pages are predominantly light blue with darker blue borders and yellow text boxes that provide interesting tidbits and additional context.

A lively, carefully researched, and clearly written narrative. (timeline, notes, bibliography, image credits, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781419758966

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023

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From the Race to the Truth series

Deftly written and informative; a call for vigilance and equality.

An examination of the history of Chinese American experiences.

Blackburn opens with a note to readers about growing up feeling invisible as a multicultural, biracial Chinese American. She notes the tremendous diversity of Chinese American history and writes that this book is a starting point for learning more. The evenly paced narrative starts with the earliest recorded arrival of the Chinese in America in 1834. A teenage girl, whose real name is unknown, arrived in New York Harbor with the Carnes brothers, merchants who imported Chinese goods and put her on display “like an animal in a circus.” The author then examines shifting laws, U.S. and global political and economic climates, and changing societal attitudes. The book introduces the highlighted people—including Yee Ah Tye, Wong Kim Ark, Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, and Vincent Chen—in relation to lawsuits or other transformative events; they also stand as examples for explaining concepts such as racial hierarchy and the model minority myth. Maps, photos, and documents are interspersed throughout. Chapters close with questions that encourage readers to think critically about systems of oppression, actively engage with the material, and draw connections to their own lives. Although the book covers a wide span of history, from the Gold Rush to the rise in anti-Asian hate during the Covid-19 pandemic, it thoroughly explains the various events. Blackburn doesn’t shy away from describing terrible setbacks, but she balances them with examples of solidarity and progress.

Deftly written and informative; a call for vigilance and equality. (resources, bibliography, image credits) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 26, 2024

ISBN: 9780593567630

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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An extraordinary tale of sisterhood and survival, told with simplicity.

A true story of two sisters—one Deaf and one hearing—and how they endured a perilous childhood in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II.

Herta Myers, 8, and Renee, 10, are sisters living in Bratislava, the capital of what was then Czechoslovakia, during World War II. Renee is her family’s ears, as Herta and both of their parents are Deaf. They all communicate using sign language. Renee becomes so good at recognizing the sound of soldiers’ boots outside the window that she can warn her family of any danger. With narration traded between the girls, readers learn that the sisters are hidden on a farm with a couple who are also Deaf. Eventually, separated from their parents, the sisters’ journey leads them to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where their collective resolve is endlessly tested. This is a compelling story, exploring the role that senses play when one is in danger as well as presenting the candid recollections of everyday details of two children navigating appalling conditions during wartime. It is, however, a lot to process for kids who are as young as Herta and Renee were at the time of their most traumatic experiences. In the epilogue, co-author Greene reveals that this book is largely a compilation and interweaving of the transcripts of interviews that these two sisters gave to the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale University.

An extraordinary tale of sisterhood and survival, told with simplicity. (poem, photographs) (Memoir. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-75335-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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