A sensitive and heartfelt voicing of the immigrant experience.



A collection of poems written by immigrant students at the Paul-Gérin-Lajoie-D’Outremont high school, in Outremont, Quebec, Canada.

Originally published in French as Bagages—mon histoire, this Canadian import features 15 poems by young immigrants from many corners of the world: Moldova, Iran, South Korea, Israel, Philippines, Uruguay, Pakistan, China, Venezuela, and the United Arab Emirates. They are deeply personal and expressed in different ways. “Now I advance / Slashing my chrysalis,” declares Dohee Kim, from South Korea. “I have gained the future / I have lost the past,” reflects Hernan Farina Forster, from Uruguay. “Thank you, FaceTime / For showing me their tear-streaked faces / Even here in Canada,” writes Arad Panahi, from Iran. The poems are marked by very universal themes, predominantly sadness over the people and places left behind and uneasiness over what lies ahead. Alongside the poems are striking full-page portraits in muted sepia tones on cream-colored paper. While some of the portraits correspond with the author of the accompanying poem, most do not. It must be presumed they are portraits of other young immigrant students at the school, not included in this poetry anthology. The English title of the book plays on the double meaning of the phrase, expressing so simply what it means to be an immigrant. Immigrants are the sum total of the baggage they carry on with them as well as the future they forge as they carry on with their lives in their new country.

A sensitive and heartfelt voicing of the immigrant experience. (editor’s note, illustrator’s note) (Picture book/poetry. 10-15)

Pub Date: April 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77147-416-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Ultimately adds little to conversations about race.


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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A powerful resource for young people itching for change.



Soccer star and activist Wambach adapts Wolfpack (2019), her New York Times bestseller for adults, for a middle-grade audience.

YOU. ARE. THE. WOLVES.” That rallying cry, each word proudly occupying its own line on the page, neatly sums up the fierce determination Wambach demands of her audience. The original Wolfpack was an adaptation of the viral 2018 commencement speech she gave at Barnard College; in her own words, it was “a directive to unleash [the graduates’] individuality, unite the collective, and change the world.” This new adaption takes the themes of the original and recasts them in kid-friendly terms, the call to action feeling more relevant now than ever. With the exception of the introduction and closing remarks, each short chapter presents a new leadership philosophy, dishing out such timeless advice as “Be grateful and ambitious”; “Make failure your fuel”; “Champion each other”; and “Find your pack.” Chapters utilize “rules” as a framing device. The first page of each presents a generalized “old” and “new” rule pertaining to that chapter’s guiding principle, and each chapter closes with a “Call to the Wolfpack” that sums up those principles in more specific terms. Some parts of the book come across as somewhat quixotic or buzzword-heavy, but Wambach deftly mitigates much of the preachiness with a bluff, congenial tone and refreshing dashes of self-deprecating humor. Personal anecdotes help ground each of the philosophies in applicability, and myriad heavy issues are respectfully, yet simply broached.

A powerful resource for young people itching for change. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-76686-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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