A quick once-over best for sparking interest in debating, but look elsewhere for a richer treatment.

A basic introduction to formal debating.

Pairing off 10 young speakers—depicted as racially diverse in Nibbelink’s stylized artwork—to tackle such bland propositions as “Kids should clean their rooms” and “Kids should do their homework,” Kyi lays out opening statements, rebuttals, and conclusions for each exchange of views. These are accompanied by analytical notes on chains of logic, evaluation of authorities and information sources, and types of arguments as well as pointers on proper delivery. Readers are unlikely to find any of the presentations actually persuasive one way or the other, but as samples they do show how to frame and counter arguments, present factual data, and sum up. Still, despite incorporating catchy slogans into some arguments (“Mess-free is stress-free”), she never challenges her underlying premise that rational discourse alone is enough to effect opinions in the real world—so her promise to impart “persuasion superpowers” to her audience will more likely come to pass using more detailed and nuanced handbooks like Claire Duffy’s The Teen’s Guide to Debating and Public Speaking (2018). Kyi does offer a list of meatier topics to tackle, along with a generalized description of what to expect at an academic-style debate, at the end.

A quick once-over best for sparking interest in debating, but look elsewhere for a richer treatment. (glossary, selected sources, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781525305481

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023


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



This useful but uneven volume summarizes the legend of the Trojan War, then describes the archaeological excavations at Hisarlik, the Turkish site believed to have been Troy. After a brief (though ponderous) introduction comes a graceful 20-page retelling of how, according to Homer, the Greeks fought at Troy. Elegant red-and-black illustrations every few pages echo Greek vases, part of the overall attractive book design. Readers must then switch gears for the final 35 pages, illustrated with a handful of photographs, which describe the main excavations, from Heinrich Schliemann in 1870 through several more scientific expeditions up to recent times. The authors, a writer and a classical scholar, review hypotheses about the site and occasionally weave in anecdotes, but the overall scheme is chronological and the writing straightforward, without the spark of Laura Amy Schlitz’s biography, The Hero Schliemann (2006). However, readers may find the recap of The Iliad enjoyable and the rest, including a timeline and recommended websites, helpful for reports. Given the source material, it should be better. (bibliography, source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58089-326-8

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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