GIVE US THE VOTE!

OVER TWO HUNDRED YEARS OF FIGHTING FOR THE BALLOT

Pithy and worthwhile.

Text and photographs document the ongoing struggle for voting rights in the United States, from the Constitution’s inception into early 2019.

This slim volume has 19 chapters with intriguing titles, including “How To Steal an Election” and “Voting From the Grave.” The prologue includes an interview with Jamie Azure, chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, who explains how a 2018 North Dakota election law effectively denied suffrage to previously enrolled Native Americans. The next chapters move backward to civil rights in the 1960s and only then to the Founding Fathers—a clever way to ensnare young readers. Accessible, journalistic text covers a good deal of all-things-election, including the history of suffrage extended beyond white, male landowners—and many documented stories of fraud, violence, and corruption carried out by both major parties over the years. It gradually returns full circle to 2018, carefully balancing opinions from current Democrats and Republicans as it reports on the 2013 Supreme Court’s partial dismantling of the 1965 Voting Rights Act; 2016 election controversies; and youth activism vis-à-vis the environment, gun laws, and 16-year-old suffrage. In general, there is excellent coverage of past and recent protest movements relating directly or indirectly to voting; gerrymandering commands an entire chapter. However, current protesting against the Electoral College is the unspoken elephant—or donkey—in the room. This is especially disturbing after the text properly describes its insidious undermining of voter equality.

Pithy and worthwhile. (timeline, relevant constitutional amendments, sources, index) (Nonfiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3957-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK BOY

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 Press

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2021

A YOUNG PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

REVISED AND UPDATED

A refreshed version of a classic that doesn’t hold up to more recent works.

A new edition of late author Zinn’s 2007 work, which was adapted for young readers by Stefoff and based on Zinn’s groundbreaking 1980 original for adults.

This updated version, also adapted by Stefoff, a writer for children and teens, contains new material by journalist Morales. The work opens with the arrival of Christopher Columbus and concludes with a chapter by Morales on social and political issues from 2006 through the election of President Joe Biden seen through the lens of Latinx identity. Zinn’s work famously takes a radically different perspective from that of most mainstream history books, viewing conflicts as driven by rich people taking advantage of poorer ones. Zinn professed his own point of view as being “critical of war, racism, and economic injustice,” an approach that felt fresh among popular works of the time. Unfortunately, despite upgrades that include Morales’ perspective, “a couple of insights into Native American history,” and “a look at the Asian American activism that flourished alongside other social movements in the 1960s and 1970s,” the book feels dated. It entirely lacks footnotes, endnotes, or references, so readers cannot verify facts or further investigate material, and the black-and-white images lack credits. Although the work seeks to be inclusive, readers may wonder about the omission of many subjects relating to race, gender, and sexuality, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act, Indian boarding schools, the Tulsa Race Massacre, Loving v. Virginia, the Stonewall Uprising, Roe v. Wade, Title IX, the AIDS crisis, and the struggle for marriage equality.

A refreshed version of a classic that doesn’t hold up to more recent works. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2023

ISBN: 9781644212516

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Triangle Square Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2024

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