PAINT ME LIKE I AM

TEEN POEMS FROM WRITERSCORPS

As anthologies of teen poems become more and more plentiful, WritersCorps offers an attractive volume to supplement teen collections. Poems by teens in the San Francisco, New York, and Washington, DC, programs are gathered loosely into sections with titles like “Friendship,” “I Too Am American,” and “Furious.” Each section begins with a quote about writing, and a sample writing exercise. The free-verse poems vary in voice from narrative to lyric to performance; they are edgy, mysterious, and assertive in tone. Subjects range from friendship to parenthood, from the importance of doing right to the importance of doing nothing. “My favorite food is burnt lasagna / Because the world is / Black, bloody and cheesy to me anyway,” proclaims Karen Baylor, while Ember Ward writes, “I hold brightness and shadows in / The hollow where my ribs meet . . . / I hold my ribs, until I feel solid. / Until my legs are tree trunks and / My fingers are fruit.” The poems in the collection are mixed in their effectiveness; there is no editor mentioned, or any indication of how the poems were selected or when they were written. Other collections of teen writing offer a stronger package, such as those edited by Betsy Franco (Things I Have to Tell You, 2001, and You Hear Me?, 2000), or the annual anthologies from the San Francisco Arts Council WritersCorps project (most recently Believe Me, I Know, 2002). Nevertheless, this volume will be appreciated in teen collections that already offer similar anthologies. (Poetry. YA)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-447264-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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This is clearly not unbiased reporting, but it makes a strong case that justice in our legal system does not always fit the...

ONE CUT

From the Simon True series

Porinchak recounts how the legal system fails five teens who commit a serious crime.

The May 22, 1995, brawl in a white suburb of Los Angeles that resulted in the death of one teen and the injury of another is related matter-of-factly. The account of the police investigation, the judicial process, and the ultimate incarceration of the five boys is more passionately argued. Since the story focuses on the teens’ experiences following the brawl, minimal attention is given to Jimmy Farris, who died, although the testimony of Mike McLoren, who survived, is crucial. The book opens with a comprehensive dramatis personae that will help orient readers, and the text is liberally punctuated by quotes drawn from contemporary newspaper and magazine coverage as well as interviews with several of the key figures, including three of the accused. Porinchak argues that the proceedings were influenced by the high-profile 1994 trial and acquittal of the Menendez brothers, and unfounded accusations of gang involvement further clouded the matter. Despite the journalistic style, there is clear intent to elicit sympathy for the five boys involved, three of whom were sentenced to life without parole; of two, the text remarks that “they were numbers now, not humans.”

This is clearly not unbiased reporting, but it makes a strong case that justice in our legal system does not always fit the crime. (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8132-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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MISSISSIPPI TRIAL, 1955

Historical fiction examines the famous case of Emmett Till, whose murder was one of the triggers of the civil-rights movement. Hiram Hillburn knows R.C. Rydell is evil. He watches R.C. mutilate a catfish, but does nothing to stop him. “I didn’t want to end up like that fish,” he says. He watches R.C. throw stones at a neighbor’s house and humiliate 14-year-old Emmett Till, an African-American visitor from Chicago, and still he does nothing. Hiram says, “When things are scary or dangerous, it’s hard to see clear what to do.” When Till is brutally murdered, Hiram is sure R.C. is involved. Hiram, a white teenager who has come back to the Mississippi town where his father grew up, is the narrator and the perspective of the white outsider and the layers of his moral reflection make this an excellent examination of a difficult topic. When the case comes to trial, Hiram knows he must face his own trial: can he stand up to evil and do the right thing? He knows Mr. Paul, the local storeowner, is right: “Figure out what’s right and what’s wrong, and make yourself do the right thing. Do that and no matter what happens, no matter what people say, you’ll have no regrets.” This is a complicated thing to do, as Hiram must summon inner strength and come to terms with who he is—the son of an English professor who hates everything about the South and the grandson of a farmer who loves everything about it. Teen readers will find themselves caught up in Hiram’s very real struggle to do the right thing. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2745-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2002

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