The ingredients are all here. May this magnificent collection inspire us to move from dialogue to deep action.

THE TALK

CONVERSATIONS ABOUT RACE, LOVE & TRUTH

This star-studded collection of #ownvoices authors calls readers in for necessary reminders in service of everyday actions that we must pursue to cultivate real change.

This collection is right on time. As many people reach for undifferentiated anti-racist reading lists to catch up to the Black-led front lines of today’s social movements, the Hudsons take an approach for young readers that emphasizes intergenerational relationships, familial intimacy, and intersectional justice. These are “real conversations,” both in that many of them draw from true personal experiences and also in the sense that they revel in depth and substance. The editors put it this way: “With advice and love, harsh realities and encouraging words, the talks offered in this anthology…embrace honest ways of thinking that help expand ourselves and others in a complex and diverse society.” Each contribution has its own unique viewpoint paired with arresting grayscale illustrations; together they take on a diversity of forms including prose, poems, and comics. Race plays a central role, yet the conversations expand beyond a Black-White binary to be inclusive of Asian, Latinx, and Native experiences as well. An all-star list of authors and illustrators appears throughout the pages—an embarrassment of literary riches. Backmatter includes explanatory notes from some of the authors, and biographical notes on all the contributors. It’s a perfect sequel to the Hudsons’ critically acclaimed collection We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices (2018).

The ingredients are all here. May this magnificent collection inspire us to move from dialogue to deep action. (backmatter) (Anthology. 10-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12161-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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This glimpse into middle school is insightful, introspective, and important

BEST FRIENDS

After traveling the rocky road of elementary school friendship in Real Friends (2017), Hale returns with another graphic memoir delving even deeper into preteen tribulations.

Now in sixth grade, young Shannon is a member of “the Group,” an assortment of popular and pretty girls that most notably includes best friend and group ringleader Jen and unrelenting mean-girl Jenny. However, infighting and treachery proliferate, leaving Shannon feeling frequently off balance as she strives to fit in and suppresses things she enjoys. She captures the dynamic brilliantly: “Sixth grade friendships were like a game… / only as soon as I’d figure out the rules… / they’d change again.” In addition to laying bare the back-stabbing and cattiness, Hale also examines her struggles with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive tendencies with openness and honesty. Shannon’s story is ultimately empowering, showing the satisfaction she feels following her own path. Hale and illustrator Pham (working with colorist Sycamore) capture the nuances of a typical middle school life, balancing Shannon’s public woes with her inner conflicts and adding a fun dose of 1980s nostalgia. Pham’s art is evocative in its simplicity; detailed facial expressions add emotional depth and accessibility for even the most reluctant readers. An author’s note talks earnestly and age-appropriately about anxiety. Consider this a must-read for fans of Raina Telegmeier or Victoria Jamieson. Hale and her friends are predominately white, although students of color are present throughout.

This glimpse into middle school is insightful, introspective, and important . (Graphic memoir. 7-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31745-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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