THE SEA-RINGED WORLD

SACRED STORIES OF THE AMERICAS

Tales from 18 Indigenous cultures portray how the first peoples of the Americas have seen their world and their place in it, beginning thousands of years before Europeans arrived.

The Indigenous cultures highlighted here range from the Arctic to the southern tip of South America. Creation stories describe the births of Sun and Moon and life-sustaining lakes and rivers. Stars fill the Hopi sky when Spider Grandmother casts her web to the heavens. Great floods cover the Earth. Some narratives suggest ancient migratory journeys. Human survival is often a struggle as people cross deserts or endure drought, heat, and ice. Cautionary tales, like the Alutiiq warning against needless hunting, offer guidance. Tales of war and conquest, famine and exile, reflect the rise of empires. In a Mopan (Maya) tradition, a prince and a god fall in love, and in an Inuit story, sea and weather goddesses are partnered. A Nahua two-spirit story unites genders in one being, manifesting completion and wholeness. These retellings, most three to four pages in length, are generous in spirit. García Esperón, a lauded Mexican poet, evokes a harshly beautiful world, and Bowles’ finely rendered translation begs to be read aloud. Mijangos’ exceptional blue, black, and white digital illustrations, incorporating a variety of design elements into a unified whole, reflects and enhances themes and connections among the stories. Informative backmatter includes a pronunciation guide, cultural notes, a map, a glossary, and a bibliography.

Spellbinding. (Traditional stories. 8-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64614-015-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Levine Querido

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Essential.

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THIS BOOK IS ANTI-RACIST

20 LESSONS ON HOW TO WAKE UP, TAKE ACTION, AND DO THE WORK

A guidebook for taking action against racism.

The clear title and bold, colorful illustrations will immediately draw attention to this book, designed to guide each reader on a personal journey to work to dismantle racism. In the author’s note, Jewell begins with explanations about word choice, including the use of the terms “folx,” because it is gender neutral, and “global majority,” noting that marginalized communities of color are actually the majority in the world. She also chooses to capitalize Black, Brown, and Indigenous as a way of centering these communities’ voices; "white" is not capitalized. Organized in four sections—identity, history, taking action, and working in solidarity—each chapter builds on the lessons of the previous section. Underlined words are defined in the glossary, but Jewell unpacks concepts around race in an accessible way, bringing attention to common misunderstandings. Activities are included at the end of each chapter; they are effective, prompting both self-reflection and action steps from readers. The activities are designed to not be written inside the actual book; instead Jewell invites readers to find a special notebook and favorite pen and use that throughout. Combining the disruption of common fallacies, spotlights on change makers, the author’s personal reflections, and a call to action, this powerful book has something for all young people no matter what stage they are at in terms of awareness or activism.

Essential. (author’s note, further reading, glossary, select bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4521-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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Ultimately adds little to conversations about race.

UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK BOY

A popular YouTube series on race, “Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man,” turns how-to manual and history lesson for young readers.

Acho is a former NFL player and second-generation Nigerian American who cites his upbringing in predominantly White spaces as well as his tenure on largely Black football teams as qualifications for facilitating the titular conversations about anti-Black racism. The broad range of subjects covered here includes implicit bias, cultural appropriation, and systemic racism. Each chapter features brief overviews of American history, personal anecdotes of Acho’s struggles with his own anti-Black biases, and sections titled “Let’s Get Uncomfortable.” The book’s centering of Whiteness and White readers seems to show up, to the detriment of its subject matter, both in Acho’s accounts of his upbringing and his thought processes regarding race. The overall tone unfortunately conveys a sense of expecting little from a younger generation who may have a greater awareness than he did at the same age and who, therefore, may already be uncomfortable with racial injustice itself. The attempt at an avuncular tone disappointingly reads as condescending, revealing that, despite his online success with adults, the author is ill-equipped to be writing for middle-grade readers. Chapters dedicated to explaining to White readers why they shouldn’t use the N-word and how valuable White allyship is may make readers of color (and many White readers) bristle with indignation and discomfort despite Acho’s positive intentions.

Ultimately adds little to conversations about race. (glossary, FAQ, recommended reading, references) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-80106-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

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