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A beautiful, powerful reflection on a tragic history.

In spare verse, Lowry reflects on moments in her childhood, including the bombings of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. 

When she was a child, Lowry played at Waikiki Beach with her grandmother while her father filmed. In the old home movie, the USS Arizona appears through the mist on the horizon. Looking back at her childhood in Hawaii and then Japan, Lowry reflects on the bombings that began and ended a war and how they affected and connected everyone involved. In Part 1, she shares the lives and actions of sailors at Pearl Harbor. Part 2 is stories of civilians in Hiroshima affected by the bombing. Part 3 presents her own experience as an American in Japan shortly after the war ended. The poems bring the haunting human scale of war to the forefront, like the Christmas cards a sailor sent days before he died or the 4-year-old who was buried with his red tricycle after Hiroshima. All the personal stories—of sailors, civilians, and Lowry herself—are grounding. There is heartbreak and hope, reminding readers to reflect on the past to create a more peaceful future. Lowry uses a variety of poetry styles, identifying some, such as triolet and haiku. Pak’s graphite illustrations are like still shots of history, adding to the emotion and somber feeling. He includes some sailors of color among the mostly white U.S. forces; Lowry is white.

A beautiful, powerful reflection on a tragic history. (author’s note, bibliography) (Memoir/poetry. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-12940-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Personal but personable, too, with glints of quiet humor.

In a wryly introspective vein, a cartoonist offers a four-season round of illustrated observations on topics as varied as clouds, school, and the search for a perfect pumpkin.

“I want to put down / on paper the feeling / of fresh possibilities,” Snider writes in his “Spring” section. With reflections on the tricky art of writing poems serving as a thematic refrain, he goes on in a seasonal cycle to explorations of nature (“How do the birds / decide where / to alight?”), indoor activities (“In wool socks on thick carpet / I am MR. ELECTRIC”), and common experiences, from loading up a gigantic backpack with new books for the first day of school to waiting…and waiting…and waiting for a bus in the rain. He also invites readers to consider broad ideas, such as the rewards of practicing and the notion that failure can lead to the realization that “I’m still a work in progress.” Snider writes mostly in free verse but does break into rhyme now and then for the odd sonic grace note. Though he identifies only one entry as an actual haiku, his tersely expressed thoughts evoke that form throughout. His art is commensurately spare, with depictions of slender, dot-eyed, olive-skinned figures, generally solitary and of indeterminate age, posing balletically in, mostly, squared-off sequential panels making up mini-narratives of one to three pages.

Personal but personable, too, with glints of quiet humor. (Graphic poetry. 10-13)

Pub Date: March 26, 2024

ISBN: 9781797219653

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2024

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A brilliant story not to be missed; deeply engaging from the first page.

Waters and Sorell (Cherokee Nation) join forces to write about the power of being true to oneself.

In a middle school in Rye, a fictional town near Washington, D.C., a racist mural and offensive pep rally chants shock new student Callie Crossland, who is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and African American. Callie shares a heartfelt poem with her seventh grade honors English class, reminding everyone that the “stupid tomahawk-chop chant” and the “cheap chicken-feather headdress” are nothing less than symbols of “white supremacy.” Afterward, Ms. Williams, her teacher, assigns a persuasive writing and oration project entitled “Pros and Cons of Indigenous Peoples as Mascots.” The small, broadly diverse group of students is assigned to work in pairs; Callie is matched with Franklin, who is Black and a proud fan of the Rye Braves football team. Franklin insists, “I wish we could Lysol racism away. / It’s a bad odor,” but he feels conflicted: “I still don’t think our mascot is racist though. It brings so much joy. / …what’s the big deal?” This clever novel unfolds in poems told in multiple voices showing the wide range of students’, families’, and community responses to the controversy; for some, initial feelings of opposition, hesitation, or indifference change and friendships are tested. The compelling, highly relevant subject matter and accessible text invite readers to understand different perspectives and witness individual growth.

A brilliant story not to be missed; deeply engaging from the first page. (glossary, additional information and resources) (Verse fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781623543808

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2023

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