Posted in Non-Fiction

Children in Our World addresses racism, intolerance, and global conflict

Barron’s Educational’s Children in Our World series continues with the release of two more books: Racism and Intolerance and Global Conflict.

Racism & Intolerance (Children of the World), by Louise Spilsbury/Hanane Kai,
(Feb. 2018, Barron’s Educational), $9.99, ISBN: 9781438050225
Recommended for readers 6-10

As with the previous titles, Refugees and Migrants (2017) and Poverty and Hunger (2017), these titles provide smart, open social commentary on issues that face our kids every day, in a manner that’s factual, sensitive, and empowering. Illustrations provide examples of everyday intolerance, from someone refusing to provide a bouncy ball to a Jewish child to a group of people who refuse to give up their seats on a bus – or their bags’ seats – for an elderly woman with a cane. Global Conflict explores the reasons for conflict, and the violent ways that conflict can manifest: terrorism and war.

Global Conflict (Children of the World), by Louise Spilsbury/Hanane Kai,
(Feb. 2018, Barron’s Educational), $9.99, ISBN: 9781438050218
Recommended for readers 6-10

Each book also describes the aid efforts of individuals and charities who step into help others, and soothes children who may be afraid of what they see going on around them by encouraging them to talk to a grownup about their fears. Author Louise Spilsbury offers ways that children can help elevate the dialogue: by understanding one another, and by offering ways to help, whether it’s taking part in a bake sale fundraiser for charity or by writing letters to elected officials. There are additional books and resources for readers, caregivers, parents, and educators who want to learn more, glossaries of terms used, and indexes.

Hanane Kai’s artwork creates soft, muted pictures showing individuals working together to create understanding and, in turn, a better world for all.

Originally published in the UK in 2016 and 2017, these books – paired with the first two in the series – contribute to a strong current events shelf for elementary-age students, and a nice addition to collections for burgeoning activists. Add books like Innosanto Nagara’s A is for Activist and Counting on Community, and Maribeth Boelt’s Those Shoes and A Bike Like Sergio’s for a strong social commentary collection.

Posted in Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Teen, Tween Reads, Young Adult/New Adult

Teens on the brink: The Light Fantastic, by Sarah Combs

light-fantasticThe Light Fantastic, by Sarah Combs, (Sept. 2016, Candlewick), $17.99, ISBN: 9780763678517

Recommended for ages 12+

April 19 is Senior Skip Day, and it’s April Donovan’s 18th birthday. It’s also four days after the Boston Marathon and 18 years after Timothy McVeigh drove a truck bomb through the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City. April has a rare memory condition, hyperthymesia, which means she has photographic recall of her life’s events. This recall has spurred an obsession with tragedies that have happened in April, her birth month, throughout history. Elsewhere, Lincoln Evans – connected in his own way to April – is trying to understand his sometime girlfriend, Laura. Their teacher is distracted by another student’s chilling statement earlier. Across the country, a group of teens that call themselves The Assassins, led by someone calling himself (herself?) The Mastermind, are getting ready to set something terrible into motion.

The Light Fantastic brings together seven voices to tell the story of teens on the brink. There’s one adult voice here; a teacher’s voice, and she’s not there to be the heavy, the whistle-blower, or the accomplice. Each voice has a painful story to tell; each narrator has a tale to tell, intertwined with the events of April 19, 2013. It’s a tense, complex novel with some diversity to its voices. It felt a bit scattered at times – I think it may be the multiple narrators, backstories, and locations. Bringing everyone together online was helpful; I would have liked to see a little more of that interaction.

In these days when school and public violence surrounds us, The Light Fantastic is an important book to get into readers’ hands and get them talking. Booktalk this with A.S. King’s I Crawl Through It and by Marieke Nijkamp’s This is Where it Ends. Candlewick offers a free discussion guide with common core information.