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Passionate, absorbing, and, unfortunately, more than a little relevant to current events.

The dramatic stories of two Jewish teenagers who beat the odds by surviving the Holocaust and went on to bear witness.

Challenging his readers to understand that it’s up to them to keep what happened then from happening again—or, as he puts it in his final line: “You read the story. You know what to do”—Sheinkin recounts the experiences of two seemingly ordinary young Slovaks under the Nazi regime. Readers meet Gerta Sidonová, who joined a resistance group and, in a gut-wrenching moment, was forced to make a quick choice between staying with her mother or seizing a chance to escape when they were captured together, and Rudi Vrba, who spent nearly two harrowing years in Auschwitz and other prison camps before escaping to deliver one of the first widely distributed eyewitness accounts of what was going on. Along with adding historical context with testimony from other captives, postwar Nazi trial transcripts, and hefty loads of other documentary evidence, and carrying on to the deaths of Rudi in 2006 and Gerta in 2020, the author concludes with a gripping report of a later courtroom exchange between Vrba and a Canadian Holocaust denier. This is a moving tale of luck, pluck, and stubborn endurance with a strong message about where the slippery slopes of hatred and prejudice still, and ever do, lead.

Passionate, absorbing, and, unfortunately, more than a little relevant to current events. (author’s note, source notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2023

ISBN: 9781250265722

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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