A little rough but ultimately a beautiful celebration of Indigenous excellence.

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GO SHOW THE WORLD

A CELEBRATION OF INDIGENOUS HEROES

Kinew uses lyrical language to pay tribute to Indigenous heroes and leaders of North America.

In his picture-book debut, Canadian politician and musician Kinew (Ojibways of Onigaming First Nation) aims to uplift and inspire youth, especially Indigenous youth. Readers learn about historical figures such as Sac and Fox athlete Jim Thorpe, Omaha doctor Susan LaFlesche Picotte, and Mohawk Olympian Waneek Horn-Miller, who was wounded by a soldier during the Oka crisis. Touching on topics of Creation, Indian boarding schools, and the anti–Dakota Access Pipeline movement, this book has a broad reach. Though the lines in verse are occasionally awkward, Kinew packs a great deal of power into just a few words: “We are people who matter. / Yes, it’s true. / Now let’s show the world what people who matter can do.” That being said, the spread honoring Sacagawea unquestioningly portrays her as a willing agent in American imperialism, which it celebrates by implication: “Under starry nights west Sacagawea led / Lewis and Clark, so America could spread. / Plus she healed them when they were almost dead. / The men got the credit, but should she have instead?” Morse’s watercolor, digital color, and collage illustrations are masterful. Long limbs and necks, powerful hands, and photorealistic details are characteristic of his style. Most figures are either facing readers or moving towards the right, creating a flow that suggests looking forward to a bright and hopeful future.

A little rough but ultimately a beautiful celebration of Indigenous excellence. (author’s note, biographies) (Informational picture book. 5-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6292-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

WAYSIDE SCHOOL BENEATH THE CLOUD OF DOOM

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.

IF I BUILT A SCHOOL

A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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