This year’s bumper crop of diverse nonfiction focuses on peo- ple, some well-known, others not, but all of them fascinating.
The books below were reviewed in Booklist between February 1,
2016, and January 2017. —Ilene Cooper
Che Guevara’s Face: How a Cuban Photographer’s Image Became a Cultural Icon. By Danielle Smith-Llera. 2016. Capstone/
Compass Point, $8.95 (9780756554422). Gr. 5–8.
Centered on the iconic photograph, this book also looks at
Cuban history, the country’s relationship with the U.S., and the image itself.
Growing Peace: A Story of Farming, Music, and Religious Harmony. By Richard Sobol.
2016. Lee & Low, $18.95 (9781600604508). Gr. 4–7.
Sobol’s account of the Peace Kawomera Growers co-op in Uganda is an uplifting story
of community and religious harmony, a project all the more inspiring considering it is set
against the country’s history of civil unrest.
In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five
Black Lives. By Kenneth C. Davis. 2016. Holt, $17.99 (9781627793117). Gr. 7–10.
This invaluable perspective on American slavery is paired with close-up views of four
American presidents and five of their slaves.
LGBTQ+ Athletes Claim the Field: Striving for Equality. By Kirstin Cronn-Mills. 2016.
Lerner/Twenty-First Century, $34.65 (9781467780124). Gr. 8–11.
In this eye-opening survey, readers learn about the people who have come out, the
history of prejudices in sports, and the progress toward putting antidiscrimination policies
March: Book Three. By John Lewis and Andrew Aydin. Illus. by Nate Powell. 2016. Top
Shelf, $19.99 (9781603094023). Gr. 9–12.
Opening with the infamous bombing of the Birmingham Baptist Church, the concluding
volume in this critically acclaimed series highlights growing violence as well as tensions
among civil rights activists leading up to Freedom Summer. Essential reading.
Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets. By Kwame Alexander and others. Illus. by
Ekua Holmes. Mar. 2017. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763680947). Gr. 4–7.
This cornucopia of original poetry inspired by favorite poets is a joy to read and is
matched by the glorious collage art that bursts from the pages.
Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story. By Caren Stelson. 2016. Carolrhoda, $19.99
(9781467789035). Gr. 7–10.
The plight of six-year-old Sachiko and her family after an atomic bomb is dropped on her
city is detailed in this meaningful look back. Equally important is how Sachiko now works
Shackles from the Deep: Tracing the Path of a Sunken Slave Ship, a Bitter Past, and a
Rich Legacy. By Michael Cottman. 2017. National Geographic, $17.99 (9781426326639).
Cottman was moved to join the search for an eighteenth-century slave ship because of
curiosity about his ancestry. Discussing slavery, marine archaeology, and contemporary
racial discrimination, this culminates with a dive to the wreck itself.
Somos como las nubes / We Are Like the Clouds. By Jorge Argueta. Illus. by Alfonso
Ruano. Tr. by Elisa Amado. 2016. Groundwood, $18.95 (9781554988495). Gr. 5–8.
This powerful collection of bilingual poetry centers on the unaccompanied minors from
Central America who have been making the dangerous trek to the U.S. in search of family
and a safer life. Poignant and powerful.
Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team. By Steve Sheinkin.
2017. Roaring Brook, $19.99 (9781596439542). Gr. 6–9.
Besides being a track and field star, Native American Thorpe was also a gifted football
player as this absorbing biography shows both through exemplary writing and a trove of
fascinating photos. A perfect mesh of documented research and stylish writing.
TOP 10 DIVERSE NONFICTION FOR YOUTH
zer Creek, Caleb develops feelings for Mariah,
while she struggles to believe in her newfound
freedom and plan for a future for herself and
her younger brother, Zeke. Caleb and Mariah
both harbor secrets and pasts that shape their
worldviews, but they’re starting to warm to
each other when the unthinkable happens.
Chapters alternating between Mariah’s and
Caleb’s points-of-view lay bare the differences
between the experiences of a free black man and
those of an enslaved woman. Caleb’s journal
entries, for instance, signal a desire to publish
or own a newspaper, while enraged Mariah laments, “colored lives don’t matter.” With keen
insight, Bolden mines a lesser-known historical event and brings the human cost vividly to
life. In particular, the moment when the freed
men and women are abandoned by the creek
as Confederate forces descend will surprise and
horrify many readers. Bolden’s trenchant, powerful novel is a strong testament to the many
lost lives that certainly did—and still do—
matter. —Jennifer Barnes
By Bill Konigsberg.
Mar. 2017. 336p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $17.99
(9780545858267); e-book, $17.99 (9780545858311).
Rafe and Ben return in this eagerly awaited
sequel to Konigsberg’s Openly Straight (2013).
The spotlight this time is on Ben, whose intimate friendship with
Rafe has ended badly. Ben
(straight) and Rafe (gay) are
cautiously trying to revive
this friendship, but, like
so much in Ben’s life, it’s
complicated. Ben now appears to have it all: forging
a new relationship with the
lovely, outspoken Hannah; being named captain of the baseball team though he’s only a
junior; and receiving a prestigious award that
is accompanied by a college scholarship—
essential, as Ben comes from an economically
challenged farm family. All of this good fortune
comes with increasingly onerous stress: Hannah
distrusts Ben’s growing friendship with Rafe,
being captain of the team is a challenge, and
Ben needs to pass a vitally important calculus
test to retain the award. How will he handle all
of this, especially the friendship with Rafe that
may again turn into something deeper? The
thoughtful, reserved Ben tells his story in his
distinctive, introspective voice, and Konigsberg
has again done a remarkable job developing
characters and inviting readers to consider the
meaning of friendship with all its rewards and
challenges. Extremely well written, this novel
of ideas is deeply satisfying and as honest as its
appealing protagonist. —Michael Cart
Things I Should Have Known.
By Claire LaZebnik.
Mar. 2017. 320p. HMH, $17.99 (9780544829695). Gr. 9–12.
LaZebnik hits it out of the park with her
story about pretty, popular Chloe and her loving relationship with her older, autistic sister,