Touching.

READ REVIEW

HER OWN TWO FEET

A RWANDAN GIRL'S BRAVE FIGHT TO WALK

“Amahirwe aza rimwe,” or “chance comes once,” in this story of 9-year-old Rebeka’s brave journey from Rwanda to the United States for a life-changing surgery.

Rebeka Uwitonze, raised in Bugesera, Rwanda, was born with arthrogryposis, which caused her joints to contract, resulting in curled and twisted feet. With the support of her little sister Medea, she eventually walks on the tops of her feet, but it will soon become impossible to continue upright without further intervention. Fortunately, what began simply as a school sponsorship turns into the chance of a lifetime: Co-author Davis and her husband of Austin, Texas, will host Rebeka so she can receive surgery that will enable her to walk for the rest of her life. Yet this means that Rebeka must leave her family and the country she knows for a world and language that are totally different. She writes home to Medea and keeps a small blue handkerchief stitched with her mother’s love in her home language, Kinyarwanda: “Protect me from grief. I will be your pride.” When Rebeka finally returns home after 58 hospital visits and 31 different casts, she’s able to share her new experiences and spread the bravery to her peers to confront any and all life challenges. The story is related in a tightly focused third person and incorporates substantial dialogue; Davis describes the process in concluding notes. Snapshots of Rebeka both at home and with her white host family help to document her journey.

Touching. (Biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35637-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic Focus

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many.

GUTS

Young Raina is 9 when she throws up for the first time that she remembers, due to a stomach bug. Even a year later, when she is in fifth grade, she fears getting sick.

Raina begins having regular stomachaches that keep her home from school. She worries about sharing food with her friends and eating certain kinds of foods, afraid of getting sick or food poisoning. Raina’s mother enrolls her in therapy. At first Raina isn’t sure about seeing a therapist, but over time she develops healthy coping mechanisms to deal with her stress and anxiety. Her therapist helps her learn to ground herself and relax, and in turn she teaches her classmates for a school project. Amping up the green, wavy lines to evoke Raina’s nausea, Telgemeier brilliantly produces extremely accurate visual representations of stress and anxiety. Thought bubbles surround Raina in some panels, crowding her with anxious “what if”s, while in others her negative self-talk appears to be literally crushing her. Even as she copes with anxiety disorder and what is eventually diagnosed as mild irritable bowel syndrome, she experiences the typical stresses of school life, going from cheer to panic in the blink of an eye. Raina is white, and her classmates are diverse; one best friend is Korean American.

With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many. (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-85251-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

A painful and painfully recognizable tale of one girl’s struggle to make and keep “one good friend.” (author’s note)...

REAL FRIENDS

A truth-telling graphic memoir whose theme song could be Johnny Lee’s old country song “Lookin’ for Love in all the Wrong Places.”

Shannon, depicted in Pham’s clear, appealing panels as a redheaded white girl, starts kindergarten in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1979, and her story ends just before sixth grade. Desperately longing to be in “the group” at school, Shannon suffers persistent bullying, particularly from a mean girl, Jenny, which leads to chronic stomachaches, missing school, and doctor visits. Contemporary readers will recognize behaviors indicative of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but the doctor calls it anxiety and tells Shannon to stop worrying. Instead of being a place of solace, home adds to Shannon’s stress. The middle child of five, she suffers abuse from her oldest sibling, Wendy, whom Pham often portrays as a fierce, gigantic bear and whom readers see their mother worrying about from the beginning. The protagonist’s faith (presented as generically Christian) surfaces overtly a few times but mostly seems to provide a moral compass for Shannon as she negotiates these complicated relationships. This episodic story sometimes sticks too close to the truth for comfort, but readers will appreciate Shannon’s fantastic imagination that lightens her tough journey toward courage and self-acceptance.

A painful and painfully recognizable tale of one girl’s struggle to make and keep “one good friend.” (author’s note) (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-416-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

more