A valuable resource.

The interplay of complex political, medical, and societal issues involved in reproductive rights is clearly explained and placed in its historical context.

Human reproduction and attempts to control it have been issues for society throughout history, culminating in the United States in contentious debates about abortion. Wittenstein places the issue in historical context beginning in the ancient world and highlighting particular periods of struggle for societal change, making clear how long abortion and birth control have been issues of contention. Major figures such as Alfred Comstock and Margaret Sanger are introduced, as well as some of the differences in approach that caused divisions in the cause in the early years of the 20th century. Ultimately, Wittenstein argues, the greatest influences continue to come from scientific advances that improve contraception even as the country remains divided about pregnancy termination. This slim volume is full of information on all aspects of the subject. Written in a clear, straightforward style, it manages to include pertinent information about the role of reproduction in U.S. slavery as well as current efforts to address the issue globally. Black-and-white and color photographs, drawings, charts, and sidebars add graphic interest. There is considerable backmatter: glossary, timeline, source notes, selected bibliography, recommendations for further information, index, and photo credits.

A valuable resource. (Nonfiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4677-4187-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015



Entertaining and eye-opening.

Brief, breezy profiles of women who committed crimes, from Delilah to Catherine the Great to gangster moll Virginia Hill, with comic-strip commentary from the authors.

With a conversational style, the mother-daughter team of Yolen and Stemple recap the crimes and misdeeds of 26 women and a few girls in this jaunty collective biography. After each two-to-four–page biographical sketch and accompanying illustration of the woman, a one-page comic strip shows the authors arguing about the woman’s guilt. The comic-strip Stemple typically comes down on the side of “guilty” or, in the case of Cleopatra marrying her brother, “icky.” Yolen tends toward moral relativism, suggesting the women acted according to the norms of their times or that they were driven to crime by circumstances such as poverty or lack of women’s rights. Thus, strip-teasing Salome, who may have been only 10, was manipulated by her mother into asking for John the Baptist’s head on a platter. Outlaw Belle Starr was “a good Southern girl raised during difficult times.” While the comic strips grow repetitive, the narrative portraits, arranged chronologically, offer intriguing facts—and in some cases, speculation—about an array of colorful figures, many of whom won’t be known to readers.

Entertaining and eye-opening. (bibliography, index) (Collective biography. 12-15)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-58089-185-1

Page Count: 172

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013



As gay Chippewa 16-year-old Zack puts it, “They tried really hard to kill us all off, and we’re still here!”—a welcome and...

In distilled interviews, 45 young Native Americans express hope, resilience, optimism—and, rarely, anger—amid frank accounts of families plagued by drug, alcohol and sexual abuse, as well as murder, suicide, extreme poverty, and widespread discrimination, both public and private.

The interviewees range in age from 9 to 18 and in locale from the Everglades to Nunavut, Martha’s Vineyard to Haida Gwaii. Despite this, likely due to editorial shaping, Ellis’ interviewees sound about the same in vocabulary and “voice.” Together, they tell a wrenching tale. Many are foster children; several suffer from or have siblings with spectrum disorders and other disabilities; nearly all describe tragic personal or family histories. Moreover, the narratives are shot through with evidence of vicious racial prejudice—not just in the distant past: “My mother works with residential school survivors,” tellingly notes Cohen, a Haida teen. Even the youngest, however, display firm tribal identities and knowledge of their collective history and heritage. Also, along with describing typical activities and concerns of modern day-to-day living, these young people embrace their distinctive cultural practices and almost without exception, express a buoyant attitude.

As gay Chippewa 16-year-old Zack puts it, “They tried really hard to kill us all off, and we’re still here!”—a welcome and necessary reminder to all. (introductory notes, photos, annotated lists of organizations) (Nonfiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55498-120-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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