Fiery and engaging, a powerful portrait of the liberating power of art.

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LIGHTNING DREAMER

An inspiring fictionalized verse biography of one of Cuba’s most influential writers.

Newbery Honor–winning Engle (The Surrender Tree, 2008) here imagines the youth of Cuban-born Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda (1814-73), a major 19th-century writer who was an abolitionist and feminist opposed to all forms of slavery, including arranged marriage. From Sab, her subject’s 1841 abolitionist novel, Engle loosely deduces her artistic development, not only including the two arranged marriages she refused in real life, but the budding writer’s struggles at home. There, “Tula” was subjected to the discriminatory views of her mother and grandfather, who sought to educate her only in the domestic arts since, according to Mamá, “Everyone knows that girls / who read and write too much / are unattractive.” Denied the education her brother received, Tula laments, “I’m just a girl who is expected / to live / without thoughts.” Engle’s clear, declarative verse animates the impassioned voice of Tula as well as other major figures in her life—her sympathetic brother, Manuel, the orphans she comes to love and entertain with grand plays meshing themes of autonomy and racial equality, and her family’s housekeeper, Caridad, a former slave who is eventually inspired by Tula’s wild tales of true emancipation to leave her confining situation.

Fiery and engaging, a powerful portrait of the liberating power of art. (historical note, translated excerpts from Avellaneda’s work, bibliography) (Historical fiction/verse. 12 & up)

Pub Date: March 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-80743-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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Ephemeral—unlike the art here (some of it, at least) and those fondly remembered little books.

EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED FROM A LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK

Chicken soup for fans of Golden Books, from the line’s editorial director.

Reasoning that hard times have come to America (“The chickens have come home to roost, and their names are Debt, Depression, and Diabetes”), Muldrow offers this book as palliative. She gathers single illustrations from 61 Little Golden Books and adds pithy captions as anodynes, such as “Don’t panic…” (beneath Tibor Gergely’s 1948 image of a dismayed child holding detached braids) or “Have some pancakes” (Richard Scarry, 1949). Though some of her advice has a modern inflection (“Don’t forget your antioxidants!”), the pictures all come from titles published between 1942 and 1964 and so, despite the great diversity of artistic styles, have a quaint period look. Not to mention quaint period values, from views of apron-wearing housewives and pipe-smoking men (or bears) to, with but two exceptions, an all-white cast of humans. Furthermore, despite the title’s implication, the exhortations don’t always reflect the original story’s lesson or theme; rather than “Make a budget—and stick to it!” the lad in Miriam Young’s 5 Pennies To Spend (illustrated by Corinne Malvern, 1955) actually used his hoard to help others in need.

Ephemeral—unlike the art here (some of it, at least) and those fondly remembered little books. (Picture book. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-307-97761-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Golden Books/Random

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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A must-have book for libraries, schools, and churches.

QUEERFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE

A GUIDE FOR LGBTQ+ CHRISTIAN TEENS

A must-read guide for all queer and questioning Christians (and their allies, too)!

Queer youth still face a multitude of challenges while growing up, and these have the potential to be amplified by religious beliefs. Addressing that issue head-on, this guide for Christians seeks to provide counsel, understanding, and gentle guidance across a series of 40-plus chapters that address everything from coming out in a variety of contexts, positive ways to deal with haters, and helping start the conversation about gender-neutral bathrooms at school, to living authentically. The book acknowledges that the advice is sometimes vague, but that’s because the spectrum of queer life is so broad. In this regard, the book excels by speaking to a range of genders and sexual identities; asexuals, nonbinary people, bisexuals, pansexuals, etc., are all addressed with respect and will find useful tips for navigating their early years. The book works better for hunt-and-peck readers as opposed to those reading from cover to cover because some of the information is repetitious, but that repetition may be necessary to counterbalance years of incorrect, inaccurate, or purposely hateful misinformation. The contributors to this fabulous read include mental health experts and religious leaders. Text boxes, pie charts, graphs, and grayscale illustrations support and enhance the main narrative.

A must-have book for libraries, schools, and churches. (note on language, glossary, additional resources, sources) (Self-help. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Beaming Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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SMILE FOR THE CAMERA

This completely absorbing memoir follows the author from age 16, when she escaped from an abusive home in the late 1970s to become a model in New York City. Although Kelle ultimately succeeds, her path from squalor to security takes her through more abusive relationships, homelessness and a sensational murder trial. Kelle is one scrappy girl, though. With a few good friends and the timely kindness of strangers, she survives. This is a cautionary story to those who dream of similar runs to fame. James pulls no punches in her descriptions of the sexual and physical abuse she suffered at the hands of predatory men in the city and in flashback memories of her violent father. She describes a sexual attack and doesn’t shy away from innuendo in her characters’ dialogue. Stark in its honesty, the book propels readers forward with a sense of suspense worthy of a thriller. James bares her former adolescent soul and proudly celebrates her toughness, while owning up to her mistakes as well. Compelling and fascinating—a striking debut. (Memoir. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0623-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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