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A fascinating, well-told American story full of compelling innovation.

An account of how brilliant and resourceful early-20th-century Black aviators created their own runway to the skies.

Originally trained as auto mechanics, Cornelius Robinson Coffey and John Charles Robinson shared a common dream of becoming pilots despite facing racism. “We’re going to make it regardless,” Coffey prophetically declared after they were both reluctantly admitted—under threat of a lawsuit—into Chicago’s Curtiss–Wright School of Aviation. They successfully finished their program, persuading the school’s initially hostile director to register a cohort of Black students whom they could teach as assistant instructors. Coffey and Robinson then sought interested men and women through advertisements in the Chicago Defender, whose publisher sponsored pioneering Black pilot Bessie Coleman. They organized the Brown Eagle Aero Club, and Robinson even accepted an invitation from Haile Selassie to help train Ethiopian pilots as the country prepared to defend itself against fascist Italy. Smith and Wein tightly thread together overlapping narrative threads, including the early evolution of aviation, the history of Tuskegee University, the role of the African American press, and tense geopolitical matters concerning the only African country to have escaped European colonization. Photographs scattered throughout are an additional treat, adding a special layer to the storytelling. The writing is accessible and buoyant, creating anticipation for what is to come, all culminating in an engaging slice of history.

A fascinating, well-told American story full of compelling innovation. (authors’ note, source notes, resources, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2024

ISBN: 9780593323984

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

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From the Pocket Change Collective series

Small but mighty necessary reading.

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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From the Pocket Change Collective series

Brief yet inspirational, this story will galvanize youth to use their voices for change.

Teen environmental activist and founder of the nonprofit Hannah4Change, Testa shares her story and the science around plastic pollution in her fight to save our planet.

Testa’s connection to and respect for nature compelled her to begin championing animal causes at the age of 10, and this desire to have an impact later propelled her to dedicate her life to fighting plastic pollution. Starting with the history of plastic and how it’s produced, Testa acknowledges the benefits of plastics for humanity but also the many ways it harms our planet. Instead of relying on recycling—which is both insufficient and ineffective—she urges readers to follow two additional R’s: “refuse” and “raise awareness.” Readers are encouraged to do their part, starting with small things like refusing to use plastic straws and water bottles and eventually working up to using their voices to influence business and policy change. In the process, she highlights other youth advocates working toward the same cause. Short chapters include personal examples, such as observations of plastic pollution in Mauritius, her maternal grandparents’ birthplace. Testa makes her case not only against plastic pollution, but also for the work she’s done, resulting in something of a college-admissions–essay tone. Nevertheless, the first-person accounts paired with science will have an impact on readers. Unfortunately, no sources are cited and the lack of backmatter is a missed opportunity.

Brief yet inspirational, this story will galvanize youth to use their voices for change. (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22333-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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