♦ Tributes in prose and poetry to children and teens of today who have spoken out to support a cause or protest injustice.
Budding activists in search of child role models beyond the high-profile likes of Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg may well draw inspiration from this less-intimidating—but no less brave and worthy—lineup. For each, a poem by one of 14 poets and a laudatory paragraph flank an engaging, soft-focus portrait by Bradley that digitally emulates chalk and pastels on a textured brown background. “Each activist,” write the editors, “inspired a poet who relates to an aspect of the activist’s identity.” New Yorker Charles Waters, for instance, gives a shoutout to 6-year-old Samirah “DJ Annie Red” Horton, “proudly / representing the People’s Republic of Brooklyn” with her anti-bullying rap; Zach Wahls, founder of Scouts for Equality, poses with his two moms next to a triolet from Lesléa Newman. Other contributors, including Carole Boston Weatherford, Janet Wong, and Joseph Bruchac, honor young people making good trouble in areas of contention as varied as climate change, gender identity, immigration law, safe drinking water, and gun violence. The contributors are as diverse of identity as their young subjects, and as a sidelight the poems are cast in a variety of identified forms from free verse to reverso, cinquain, and tanka.
Never too soon to start stirring things up: “We may be small / but / we / can / ROAR!”
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
This inspiring title profiles 14 young people who are a positive force for change. The young activists vary in age and actions, but they all took remarkable steps to improve their communities and country. Levi Draheim joined forces with other young people to sue the United States over climate change. Mari Copeny, known as “Little Miss Flint,” raised money and awareness to combat the Flint, MI, water crisis. Zach Wahls campaigned for LGBTQ equality within the Boy Scouts of America. A brief biography detailing the spotlighted individual is paired with a poem, each written by a different poet. Back matter includes brief explanations of the poetry forms used throughout the book, such as free verse and spoken word. The back matter also features brief biographies of the poets (including Nikki Grimes, Hena Khan, and Charles Waters), whose commitment to diverse and inclusive children’s literature is evident from their remarkable body of work. The illustrations are lovely. Portraits of the children on brown paper wonderfully enhance the text. All readers will be empowered. VERDICT An excellent selection for poetry and social justice collections; a helpful resource to teach students about poetry and its many forms.
—School Library Journal