Engle’s new offering contains moments of true poetic beauty, but these choices detract from an otherwise lovely,...

SILVER PEOPLE

VOICES FROM THE PANAMA CANAL

A poetic exploration of the construction of the Panama Canal.

From the animal inhabitants of the Panamanian jungle, disturbed and displaced by the construction, and the trees felled to the human workers, Engle unites disparate voices into a cohesive narrative in poems chronicling the creation of the Panama Canal. Mateo, a 14-year-old Cuban lured by promises of wealth, journeys to Panama only to discover the recruiters’ lies and a life of harsh labor. However, through his relationships with Anita, an “herb girl,” Henry, a black Jamaican worker, and Augusto, a Puerto Rican geologist, Mateo is able to find a place in his new land. The Newbery Honoree and Pura Belpré winner’s verse is characteristically elegant, and her inclusion of nonhuman voices brings home the environmental impact of the monumental project. Given this breadth, Engle’s choice to center her story on a nonblack protagonist is saddening, as the majority of the workers on the Panama Canal were black islanders. Furthermore, while Mateo and Anita—and even many of the flora and fauna characters—are represented on the cover, Henry, a prominent character and the only black given a voice, does not make an appearance—a regrettable decision.

Engle’s new offering contains moments of true poetic beauty, but these choices detract from an otherwise lovely, enlightening book. (author’s note, selected bibliography) (Historical fiction/verse. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10941-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A missed opportunity for Blossom to connect with the millennial generation.

GIRLING UP

HOW TO BE STRONG, SMART AND SPECTACULAR

The Blossom and Big Bang Theory star and neuroscientist covers the basics of what it means to be an adolescent girl.

Readers learn how the body looks and works during puberty, with detailed illustrations of different breast sizes/types and diagrams of male and female genitalia. Also covered are the benefits of healthy food choices and finding ways to cope with stress. Many chapters offer diagrams that attempt to show how the brain and body affect learning, hormonal changes, and stress levels, along with illustrations featuring diverse body types, yoga poses for cramps, and other spot images. There are also anecdotal insights aplenty from Bialik, who left her childhood acting career to pursue neuroscience before returning to acting, along with guided self-reflections and a smattering of helpful resources. The fact is, however, there’s little information in this book that most young adolescents don’t already have instant access to on the internet. The overall attitude is cis- and heterocentric. Although Bialik briefly mentions gender presentation and fluidity, the reaffirming messages she doles out mostly cater to boy-girl relationships and gender-conforming teens, as seen in her sections on dating and practicing safe sex. Though many illustrations depict darker-skinned teens, the text avoids discussion of issues of race and diversity. These elisions let her audience down.

A missed opportunity for Blossom to connect with the millennial generation. (Nonfiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54860-4

Page Count: 194

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2017

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