For those approaching or in the scrum of middle school, a positive reminder that the perfect middle school experience does...

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SURVIVING MIDDLE SCHOOL

NAVIGATING THE HALLS, RIDING THE SOCIAL ROLLER COASTER, AND UNMASKING THE REAL YOU

With age-appropriate humor and insight, veteran teacher Reynolds offers advice aimed at assisting young people as they trek through the minefield that is middle school.

Honest in tone but with an acute sense of the ridiculous (the trope of garlic-bread–stealing space gnomes is overused), the short chapters contain stories from the author’s own middle school experience or his imagination, a narrative approach that will appeal to fans of books such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Short chapters on bullying, peer pressure, grades, dealing with parents and teachers, and more are sprinkled with accessible and pertinent quotes and end with exercises to try. The topic of sex is excluded, gearing the book to younger readers—especially those who enjoy scatological goofiness. Reynolds takes on the media, imagining a fictitious Mr. Buttmuncher at its head, to encourage kids to think for themselves. While playful black-and-white cartoon illustrations and doodles add to the zaniness, the messages are worthy and clear: be yourself; practice empathy; work hard; hug your parents. A list of recommended books and movies is appended.

For those approaching or in the scrum of middle school, a positive reminder that the perfect middle school experience does not exist . (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58270-555-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Beyond Words/Aladdin

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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FIVE THOUSAND YEARS OF SLAVERY

Sandwiched between telling lines from the epic of Gilgamesh (“…the warrior’s daughter, the young man’s bride, / he uses her, no one dares to oppose him”) and the exposure of a migrant worker–trafficking ring in Florida in the mid-1990s, this survey methodically presents both a history of the slave trade and what involuntary servitude was and is like in a broad range of times and climes. Though occasionally guilty of overgeneralizing, the authors weave their narrative around contemporary accounts and documented incidents, supplemented by period images or photos and frequent sidebar essays. Also, though their accounts of slavery in North America and the abolition movement in Britain are more detailed than the other chapters, the practice’s past and present in Africa, Asia and the Pacific—including the modern “recruitment” of child soldiers and conditions in the Chinese laogai (forced labor camps)—do come in for broad overviews. For timeliness, international focus and, particularly, accuracy, this leaves Richard Watkins’ Slavery: Bondage Throughout History (2001) in the dust as a first look at a terrible topic. (timeline, index; notes and sources on an associated website) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-88776-914-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2010

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Readers will marvel at Biyarslanov’s resilience and pluck.

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A YOUNG ATHLETE'S JOURNEY TO GOLD

No one chooses to be a refugee from a war-torn homeland, but if that is the hand you are dealt, try Arthur Biyarslanov’s approach.

Biyarslanov was born in Chechnya in 1995, as Chechen separatists waged their grindingly endless civil war against Russia. When he was 3, the family headed south to Azerbaijan. Spray captures little glimpses of Arthur’s young life—stealing fruit from the tree of his next-door neighbor and the old lady who gives him a talisman (a dog biscuit) to ward off jinni—as well as the sadness, lack of language, deprivation, and fear. The story here is of Arthur’s gradual rise in the world of sports, first in Azerbaijan and then after the family moved to Toronto, Canada. Spray conjures the strange settings refugees and immigrants find themselves in. “Hey little man, whatchoo lookin’ at anyhow?” asks a tall Jamaican teenage neighbor when Arthur lands in Toronto’s St. James Town projects. “I am no to English,” Arthur replies. “All be cool. I be no English too...is no big thang.” (Dialogue is not specifically sourced, but a teeny note on the copyright page indicates that Spray relies on extensive interviews.) Arthur is a whiz at soccer but chooses boxing, where he is even whizzier, rising from his first real bout at 12 to the Canadian Olympic team.

Readers will marvel at Biyarslanov’s resilience and pluck. (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77278-003-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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