Though awkward, this adaptation still makes for a hopeful and inspiring story.

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DISCOVERING WES MOORE

This story, an adaptation for young people of the adult memoir The Other Wes Moore (2008), explores the lives of two young African-American men who share the same name and grew up impoverished on the same inner-city streets but wound up taking completely different paths.

Author Moore grew up with a devoted mother and extended family. After receiving poor grades and falling in with a bad crowd, his family pooled their limited finances to send him to Valley Forge Military Academy, where he found positive role models and became a Corps commander and star athlete. After earning an undergraduate degree, Wes attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. When the author read about the conviction of another Wes Moore for armed robbery and killing a police officer, he wanted to find out how two youths growing up at the same time in the same place could take such divergent paths. The author learns that the other Wes never had the extensive family support, the influential mentors or the lucky breaks he enjoyed. Unfortunately, the other Wes Moore is not introduced until over two-thirds of the way through the narrative. The story of the other Wes is heavily truncated and rushed, as is the author's conclusion, in which he argues earnestly and convincingly that young people can overcome the obstacles in their lives when they make the right choices and accept the support of caring adults.

Though awkward, this adaptation still makes for a hopeful and inspiring story. (Memoir. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-74167-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today.

THEY CALLED US ENEMY

A beautifully heart-wrenching graphic-novel adaptation of actor and activist Takei’s (Lions and Tigers and Bears, 2013, etc.) childhood experience of incarceration in a World War II camp for Japanese Americans.

Takei had not yet started school when he, his parents, and his younger siblings were forced to leave their home and report to the Santa Anita Racetrack for “processing and removal” due to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The creators smoothly and cleverly embed the historical context within which Takei’s family’s story takes place, allowing readers to simultaneously experience the daily humiliations that they suffered in the camps while providing readers with a broader understanding of the federal legislation, lawsuits, and actions which led to and maintained this injustice. The heroes who fought against this and provided support to and within the Japanese American community, such as Fred Korematsu, the 442nd Regiment, Herbert Nicholson, and the ACLU’s Wayne Collins, are also highlighted, but the focus always remains on the many sacrifices that Takei’s parents made to ensure the safety and survival of their family while shielding their children from knowing the depths of the hatred they faced and danger they were in. The creators also highlight the dangerous parallels between the hate speech, stereotyping, and legislation used against Japanese Americans and the trajectory of current events. Delicate grayscale illustrations effectively convey the intense emotions and the stark living conditions.

A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60309-450-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Top Shelf Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

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Inspirational reading for any occasion. (Poetry. 12-adult)

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FOR EVERY ONE

A poem provides hope and reassurance to teens as they try to make sense of their own dreams for the future.

Award-winning writer Reynolds (Long Way Down, 2017, etc.) offers a letter in the form of a long poem that acknowledges and encourages young people’s dreams and aspirations. The poem uses the author’s own experiences to show common ground with his readers, making it clear that he is presenting himself as a fellow traveler on the journey: “This letter / is being written / from the inside. / From the front line / and the fault line. / From the uncertain thick of it all.” He shares observations of others and the ways in which they coped and speaks of the futility of finding answers in the usual places: “Though the struggle / is always made to / sound admirable / and poetic, / the thumping uncertainty / is still there.” This short piece is full of the elements that make Reynolds such a successful writer: honesty, rich imagery, great facility with language, and an irresistible cadence. At times conversational, other times, uplifting, this intimate and powerful piece connects on many levels. Even as Reynolds repeats throughout the poem, “I don’t know nothing about that,” he is telling his readers a great deal. As a piece that was originally performed, this begs to be heard. However, the printed version will still resonate.

Inspirational reading for any occasion. (Poetry. 12-adult)

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8624-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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