Leaves readers with more questions than answers.

READ REVIEW

OPEN MIC

RIFFS ON LIFE BETWEEN CULTURES IN TEN VOICES

First the good news: Half the pieces in this uneven anthology are standouts.

The Korean-American teen in David Yoo’s story makes an unwanted, undeserved Asian “model minority” label work for him, acquiring unexpected life skills in the process. The sole black student at a Vermont boarding school is unsettled when black twin sisters also enroll in Varian Johnson’s nuanced tale. Gene Luen Yang’s graphic anecdote demonstrates how standing up for one’s beliefs can yield rewards beyond self-esteem. Luis’ siblings give him permission and support to transcend cultural constraints and be himself in Francisco X. Stork’s gentle tale. Naomi Shihab Nye’s wistful, bittersweet poem “Lexicon” looks at the power of words to unite or separate, exemplified by her Palestinian father and his fading hopes for peace. The remaining pieces are significantly weaker. Perkins salutes the value of lightening up in her introduction: “Conversations about race can be so serious, right? People get all tense or touchy.” She offers ground rules: Good humor pokes fun at the powerful, not the weak; builds affection for the “other”; and is usually self-deprecatory. Yet too few pieces here reflect those rules or appear to have been conceived as humor. Undisclosed selection criteria, author bios that don’t always speak to identity, and weak and dated content are problematic. The sweeping racial and cultural judgments and hostile—occasionally mean-spirited—tones of several pieces disappoint; angry venting may be justified and therapeutic, but it’s seldom funny.

Leaves readers with more questions than answers. (Anthology. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5866-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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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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