Contextual and informative, with positive suggestions to reduce vitriol and preserve American pluralism.

A clear introduction to the climate around recent U.S. dissension.

Kallen thoughtfully elucidates multiple causes—including the Covid-19 pandemic, cable news shows, social media, and racism—that have contributed to negative shifts in Americans’ behavior. He also offers advice on preserving mental health and avoiding becoming addicted to feelings of anger. In a chapter on media, the author shows how Rush Limbaugh, whose talk radio show normalized incivility; Rupert Murdoch, who founded Fox News; and Donald Trump, who routinely used name-calling and other reality TV strategies, all promoted attention-seeking as a supreme goal. Citing experts’ analyses and including anecdotes about ordinary people, Kallen shows how tribalism and a lack of perspective, often stemming from partial awareness of issues and consumption of biased media, increase misunderstandings and political division. The final chapter, “Stepping Back From Anger,” covers topics such as book bans and school board battles over curriculum as well as de-escalating and civility-enhancing initiatives like workshops and podcasts. Threats targeting women and the unfair application of anti-protest laws to communities of color are mentioned. Unfortunately, despite citing a study showing that 96% of Black Lives Matter protests were peaceful, the photo illustrating a protest against the police killing of George Floyd shows a police car on fire. Sidebars with quotes and useful background information supplement the accessible text, making this a useful overview of a timely subject.

Contextual and informative, with positive suggestions to reduce vitriol and preserve American pluralism. (picture credits, source notes, further research, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-67820-330-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: ReferencePoint Press

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022


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


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

Close Quickview