WE ARE POWER How Nonviolent Activism Changed the World by Todd Hasak-Lowy

Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2020.

“History is more than wars and violence.

In fact, history has often been forged through conflicts of a different sort, when huge numbers of people banded together to fight and sacrifice for their side, without ever joining a conventional army or resorting to violence. Incredible individuals—who were not politicians or generals—led these movements.”

–from the introduction of WE ARE POWER How Nonviolent Activism Changed the World

On considering classes to take in middle school or high school, had I read this introductory statement I would have jumped at the chance to take the history class that covered THIS history book. A class on striving for justice would have won out over a class on dates, battles, and wars–the feature of many high school history classes–any day of the week.

Today many, many students have experience with protest marches and rallies, and the injustices of the 21st century weigh heavily on the young.  At the time of this writing Black Lives Matter marches are occurring daily across the US and the world, even in the midst of a global pandemic. Climate Strikes and  March for Our Lives and other gun control rallies are recent enough events to continue to weigh on our minds and our hearts. In short, this is a great book to have in the world and a timely and high interest book for teens and preteens.

In WE ARE POWER How Nonviolent Activism Changed the World, Todd Hasak-Lowy presents the definition and ideology of nonviolent protest along with the history of nonviolent activism, tracing important movements in the 20th century: Gandhi’s work in South Africa and India, Alice Paul and her work with the Suffragettes in England and the US, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement, César Chávez and the Farm Workers Movement, Václav Havel and the Velvet Revolution, and Greta Thunberg and the Climate Change Movement. Each account is filled with details of the work of organizing, the dangers of participating, and the power of a people united against injustice and oppressive systems. Each account is straightforward, honest, and encouraging. And for those who read the main parts of the book and are looking for more, Hasak-Lowry provides short summaries of other successful movements that readers can use to jump-start their own research.

I cannot imagine a better time for this book to come into the world. It could be used as a whole to spark lively class discussions or in parts with students focusing on a nonviolent movement of their choice to read and learn about or even read individually by students who are already involved in changing the world. Students, teachers, and others who read this book are sure to learn about and be inspired by the stories of the nonviolent activists who have made positive changes to the modern world. I can’t recommend WE ARE POWER more highly. I hope it will fuel many to work toward a better future for all of humankind.

20 Recipes Kids Should Know

Recipes and text by Esme Washburn

Photographs by Calista Washburn

Prestel Publishing, New York, 2019

We’re foodies in my family, so my kids were always interested in cooking. However, although they would ask for help when stuck, mostly they wanted to pursue their own cooking endeavors rather than learn from their parents. I wish this book had been around when they were young! Unfortunately, when my kids were ready to begin their cooking journey, the author of this book, Calista Washburn, hadn’t been born yet! She wrote this book when she was twelve.

I can’t say enough good about this book. The recipes are for healthy foods cooked from scratch. They range from the very simple grilled cheese and pancakes to the more complicated yeast bread and homemade pasta. The steps in each recipe are straightforward and clear, and the pasta recipe includes step-by-step pictures to go with the directions. Anyone who works their way through this cookbook will have a repertoire of recipes that will stand them in good stead to feed themselves and company as well.

The recipes feature common ingredients with substitutions noted for anything that’s a little more unusual. The bread recipe includes two alternatives, one for using a stand mixer and another for letting the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator, so that schedules and equipment won’t limit cooks in accomplishing their task. The introduction includes general information for the novice cook from measurement substitutions to a glossary of cooking techniques.

The pictures in this book are likely to make you hungry, they’re beautifully styled and put together in a way that gives you a great sense of the goal for each recipe. That’s quite an accomplishment for a teen photographer, Calista Washburn, Esme’s older sister.

All-in-all I would recommend this book as one of your first summer purchases. What a great way to learn to cook!

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

one-of-us-is-lyingDelacourt Press/ Random House 2017

One Monday afternoon, five kids walk into detention in Mr. Avery’s science room. They’re not friends; they’re not even the usual suspects. Branwyn is the brainy, uber involved mathlete who has never had detention before. Cooper’s headed for baseball fame, if his father has anything to say about it. Addy’s the gorgeous girlfriend of the quarterback and hangs with the popular crowd. Nate’s the school’s dealer and all around bad boy. Simon’s the inventor of the gossip app that’s plaguing the school.

Every one of them got bagged for carrying a cell phone into science class, and every one of them swears that they’ve never seen that phone before. But before long, they’ve got a lot more to worry about than some illegal cell phones because before long one of them is dead and the rest? They are at the top of the list of suspects for the murder of their classmate Simon.

McManus has written an engaging Agatha Christie style mystery. Set in a modern high school, four appealing characters battle the expectations of their families, the cut throat social pressures of their peers, and the unpredictability of a murder investigation. Their most hidden secrets come out, making them pariahs among their peers and causing discord with their families. Against the advice of their lawyers, the remaining four tentatively build a friendship and work their way through the tangle of events that led to Simon’s being wheeled out on a stretcher and never coming back.

This mystery was a great read! Not only was it filled with the angst and social pressures of senior year of high school, but the story beautifully reflected the tightrope of senior year. Pressure comes from everywhere: parents, teachers, friends, college choices. When you add being investigated as a murder suspect? It’s a wonder they don’t all blow to pieces. Instead, in the most satisfying way each character seems to embrace the pressure, and rather than allowing it to blast them to pieces, each character instead grows stronger and begins to mold themselves into the adult they will soon be.

I was lucky enough to win an ARC of One of Us Is Lying on Twitter. I was drawn into the story from word one and read it in one weekend. It comes out May 30th. I will definitely look for more books from Karen McManus in the future.

 

The Jock and the Fat Chick by Nicole Winters

The Jock and the Fat ChickHarper Teen, 2015.

It’s senior year for Kevin Conners and his main goal is getting a full ride hockey scholarship to Michigan State.  He’s slimming down and muscling up with extra trips to the gym and a diet of protein bars and shakes, but when Kevin fails an assignment for PE class because of his poor diet, coach sends him off to make extra credit in Domestic Tech class by learning to cook.

Kevin’s got to do some fancy footwork to be sure his friends don’t learn about his assignment, and he’s practically pirouetting to ensure that they don’t find out about his connection to Claire, the kitchen goddess who has been assigned to help him. Claire’s everything that’s attractive to Kevin she’s curvy and beautiful and smart and a fantastic cook to boot, nothing like the skinny cheerleaders that his best friend Victor is into. Unfortunately, Kevin is sure Victor won’t understand, so he’s got to work extra hard to keep these two parts of his life apart.

The Jock and the Fat Chick takes some normal teen problems and sets them on their ear. Driven by ambition and peer pressure, Kevin is a male athlete making poor eating choices driven by the way his body looks. Claire, on the other hand, is a strong character, a leader to whom others go for advice who is comfortable in her own skin.

I loved everything about this book except the title, but the title is fitting in its way, because this is a story about stereotypes and expectation. It’s about seeing high school stereotypes for what they are and being strong enough to choose a different path. It’s about choosing the life and the love that is right for you, not the one that’s expected by others.

Nicole Winters has written a fun romance that will have you rooting not simply for the success of the relationship, but for the success of the two realistic teens her story presents. One warning: don’t start to read The Jock and the Fat Chick without some snacks laid in because the food descriptions will have you ordering take out for delivery in no time.

I received a copy of The Jock and the Fat Chick from the author in exchange for an honest review.