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A cycle of free verse poems carries readers from 1773 to “tomorrow,” focusing on the lives of six Black Americans whose experiences represent centuries of ferocious resistance to extraordinary oppression.

These figures are Ona Judge, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, Martin Luther King Jr., and Barack Obama. A prefatory note explains to readers that this is “a work of creative nonfiction told in…story-poems—flash lines of verse, prose, and quotes—anchored in historical facts.” The author previously demonstrated his straight nonfiction chops with Now or Never! (2017), his splendid account of Black journalists in the Civil War; here he proves equally adept at the more emotive form of poetry. Rooting the events presented in documented history, Shepard distills them into concentrated bursts of truth. In the section on Wells and her decadeslong campaign against lynching, he writes: “More than two hundred Black / children, women, and men were dead / in a two-day attack by Whites / from three states. / History called it a race riot not a massacre / as if the sharecroppers / had burned their own bodies.” Christie’s section-heading black-and-white scenes are as starkly powerful as the poems. The information presented is kaleidoscopic rather than comprehensive; readers will come away with clear senses of who these individuals were and what motivated them, while formidable backmatter, including a lengthy timeline, further reading, bibliography, and source notes, provides avenues for them to fill in the gaps.

Electrifying. (index) (Verse nonfiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2023

ISBN: 9781662680663

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Astra Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023

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From the Ape Quartet series , Vol. 1

Congolese-American Sophie makes a harrowing trek through a war-torn jungle to protect a young bonobo.

On her way to spend the summer at the bonobo sanctuary her mother runs, 14-year-old Sophie rescues a sickly baby bonobo from a trafficker. Though her Congolese mother is not pleased Sophie paid for the ape, she is proud that Sophie works to bond with Otto, the baby. A week before Sophie's to return home to her father in Miami, her mother must take advantage
of a charter flight to relocate some apes, and she leaves Sophie with Otto and the sanctuary workers. War breaks out, and after missing a U.N. flight out, Sophie must hide herself and Otto from violent militants and starving villagers. Unable to take Otto out of the country, she decides finding her mother hundreds of miles to the north is her only choice. Schrefer jumps from his usual teen suspense to craft this well-researched tale of jungle survival set during a fictional conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Realistic characters (ape and human) deal with disturbing situations described in graphic, but never gratuitous detail. The lessons Sophie learns about her childhood home, love and what it means to be endangered will resonate with readers.

Even if some hairbreadth escapes test credulity, this is a great next read for fans of our nearest ape cousins or survival adventure. (map, author's note, author Q&A) (Adventure. 12-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-16576-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2012

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Unhappy teens in need of a lecture on thinking positively and being more in touch with one’s emotions need look no further.

Mangan presents in as many chapters a 20-point strategy that ranges from “Have a Positive Attitude” and “Cut Your Problems Into Pieces” to “Practice Being Patient” and “Appreciate the Value of Your Hard Work.” She blends private exercises like visualizing forgiveness with comments on selective attention, “problematic procrastination” and other bad habits, reframing situations to put them in different lights, “changing shoes” to understand others better and subjecting feelings to rational analysis. Though the author has a graduate degree and years of practice in clinical psychology, she offers generalities and generic situations rather than specific cases from her experience, and the book is devoid of references to further resources or even an index. Superficial advice (“If you are unsafe or are around kids that you know are bullies, just walk away”) combines with techniques that are unlikely to interest readers (“Make a song verse out of your list of helpful thoughts”). The author also makes questionable claims about the mind-body connection (“When you smile, your body sends a signal to your brain that you are happy”) and fails to make a case for regarding side forays into food habits and environmental concerns as relevant to her topic. Obvious issues and common-sense advice, unpersuasively presented. (Self-help. 12-15)


Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4338-1040-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: Aug. 9, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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