From attractive page design to an afterword that encourages readers to search for their own history, there has been much...

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DISCOVERING BLACK AMERICA

FROM THE AGE OF EXPLORATION TO THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

This handsome, engaging study of African-American history brings to light many intriguing and tragically underreported stories.

This is a comprehensive approach to African-American history, beginning with accounts of black explorers before the settlement of North America. The straightforward narrative includes major historical events but places emphasis on unusual aspects. For example, during the segment on the American Revolution, there is good discussion about those who fought for both the Patriots and the Loyalists. Another section of distinction is the period following the Civil War and Reconstruction, including blacks in the West and an intriguing look at the differing views of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois. The societal changes brought on by World War II and the civil rights movement receive their due. Little-known exchanges between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King are the kinds of detail that lift this narrative above the standard history text. Not surprisingly, the story concludes with the election of President Barack Obama and the challenges facing the first black president. This is a well-researched, readable overview with an attractive layout that will engage young readers. There are few pages that are not accompanied by an interesting sidebar or image, many archival.

From attractive page design to an afterword that encourages readers to search for their own history, there has been much attention to detail in this handsome volume. (notes, bibliography, art credits, index) (Nonfiction. 10 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8109-7098-4

Page Count: 244

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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SMILE

Telgemeier has created an utterly charming graphic memoir of tooth trauma, first crushes and fickle friends, sweetly reminiscent of Judy Blume’s work. One night, Raina trips and falls after a Girl Scout meeting, knocking out her two front teeth. This leads to years of painful surgeries, braces, agonizing root canals and other oral atrocities. Her friends offer little solace through this trying ordeal, spending more of their time teasing than comforting her. After years of these girls’ constant belittling, Raina branches out and finds her own voice and a new group of friends. Young girls will relate to her story, and her friend-angst is palpable. Readers should not overlook this seemingly simply drawn work; the strong writing and emotionally expressive characters add an unexpected layer of depth. As an afterword, the author includes a photo of her smiling, showing off the results of all of the years of pain she endured. Irresistible, funny and touching—a must read for all teenage girls, whether en-braced or not. (Graphic memoir. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-13205-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bantam Discovery

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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Cathartic and uplifting.

DANCING AT THE PITY PARTY

The experiences of watching a mother succumb to cancer and grieving her death are explored with honesty and compassion.

Feder (illustrator: Unladylike, 2018), the oldest of three sisters in a close-knit Jewish family, grew up with an artistic, spirited, playful, and affectionate mother, someone whose high spirits were the perfect foil for her daughter’s anxious personality. The summer after Feder’s freshman year of college, her mother was diagnosed with cancer, dying in the spring of Feder’s sophomore year. This vulnerable memoir is a tribute to a beloved woman as well as a meditation on losing a parent when one is on the cusp of adulthood. Much like grief itself, the book careens from deep despair to humor to poignancy, fear, remorse, and anger, mirroring the emotional disorientation that comes with such a significant death. By sharing many particulars about her mother—the foods she loved and hated, the silly in-jokes, her endearing (and annoying) quirks—Feder personalizes her loss in a way that will resonate with members of the “Dead Moms Club,” with whom she describes having an immediate bond. Readers who have not experienced deep grief will learn from the missteps of well-intentioned friends and acquaintances. The pastel-toned illustrations effectively convey Feder’s youth and the intensity of her emotions while emphasizing the ultimate message of survival and resilience in the face of life-changing grief.

Cathartic and uplifting. (Graphic memoir. 12-adult)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-55302-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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