CLAUDETTE COLVIN

TWICE TOWARD JUSTICE

Claudette Colvin’s story will be new to most readers. A teenager in the 1950s, Colvin was the first African-American to refuse to give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery, Ala. Although she later participated with four other women in the court case that effectively ended segregated bus service, it is Rosa Parks’s action that became the celebrated event of the bus boycott. Hoose’s frank examination of Colvin’s life includes sizable passages in her own words, allowing readers to learn about the events of the time from a unique and personal perspective. The sequence of events unfolds clearly, with its large cast of characters distinctly delineated. Period photographs and reprints of newspaper articles effectively evoke the tenor of the times. Both Colvin and the author speculate that it was Colvin’s unplanned (and unwed) pregnancy that prevented her from being embraced as the face of the Civil Rights movement. Her commitment to combating injustice, however, was unaffected, and she remains an inspiring figure whom contemporary readers will be pleased to discover. (notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-374-31322-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Melanie Kroupa/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2009

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SMILE

Telgemeier has created an utterly charming graphic memoir of tooth trauma, first crushes and fickle friends, sweetly reminiscent of Judy Blume’s work. One night, Raina trips and falls after a Girl Scout meeting, knocking out her two front teeth. This leads to years of painful surgeries, braces, agonizing root canals and other oral atrocities. Her friends offer little solace through this trying ordeal, spending more of their time teasing than comforting her. After years of these girls’ constant belittling, Raina branches out and finds her own voice and a new group of friends. Young girls will relate to her story, and her friend-angst is palpable. Readers should not overlook this seemingly simply drawn work; the strong writing and emotionally expressive characters add an unexpected layer of depth. As an afterword, the author includes a photo of her smiling, showing off the results of all of the years of pain she endured. Irresistible, funny and touching—a must read for all teenage girls, whether en-braced or not. (Graphic memoir. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-13205-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bantam Discovery

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A painful story smartly told, Benjamin’s first solo novel has appeal well beyond a middle school audience.

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THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH

In middle school, where “Worst Thing” can mean anything from a pimple to public humiliation, Suzy “Zu” Swanson really has a reason to be in crisis: her former best friend has died unexpectedly, and the seventh-grader is literally silenced by grief and confusion.

A chance encounter with a jellyfish display on a school trip gives her focus—for Zu, the venomous Irukandji jellyfish, while rare, provides a possible explanation for the “how” of Franny’s death. And Zu is desperate for answers and relief from her haunting grief and guilt. In seven parts neatly organized around the scientific method as presented by Mrs. Turton, a middle school teacher who really gets the fragility of her students, Zu examines and analyzes past and present. A painful story of friendship made and lost emerges: the inseparable early years, Franny’s pulling away, Zu’s increasing social isolation, and a final attempt by Zu to honor a childhood pact. The author gently paints Zu as a bit of an oddball; not knowing what hair product to use leaves her feeling “like a separate species altogether,” and knowing too many species of jellyfish earns her the nickname Medusa. Surrounded by the cruelty of adolescence, Zu is awkward, smart, methodical, and driven by sadness. She eventually follows her research far beyond the middle school norm, because “ ‘Sometimes things just happen’ is not an explanation. It is not remotely scientific.”

A painful story smartly told, Benjamin’s first solo novel has appeal well beyond a middle school audience. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-38086-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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