The shortlist for the 2019 Children’s Book Award in the UK has been announced. The award is done in two stages with the Top 50 voted on by Federation Children’s Book Group members to create a Top Ten List. The books in the top ten are then voted on by children across the UK. Here is the Top Ten:
Mixed: A Colorful Story by Arree Chung
The Last Chip by Duncan Beedie
The Wondrous Dinosaurium by John Condon, illustrated by Steve Brown
What Do You Do If Your House Is a Zoo? by John Kelly, illustrated by Steph Laberis
Funny Kid Stand Up by Matt Stanton
Mr. Penguin and the Fortress of Secrets by Alex T. Smith
The Dog Who Lost His Bark by Eoin Colfer
Armistice Runner by Tom Palmer
The Light Jar by Lisa Thompson
The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle
Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan (9781547600083)
Even though they attend a high school focused on social justice, best friends Chelsea and Jasmine are sick and tired of the way that women are treated there. The two decide to start a Women’s Rights Club that focuses on girls, race, and speaking out. They convince a teacher to be their advisor and are given a school club blog to post to. They post all sorts of things online. Chelsea is a poet who loves to perform in front of audiences. Jasmine writes essays and short pieces on intersectionality and being a black girl of size. Their club starts getting attention both in and outside of their school. But the principal has some issues with their approach and the response of other students to their message. When the club is shut down, the two friends continue to raise their voices together.
Watson and Hagan have created an incredible feminist book for teens. They have incorporated the names and stories of feminists whose writing is worth checking out too, so young people inspired by this book can look further and learn more. The writing is exceptional, particularly the poetry and essays attributed to the two main characters. They cry out for justice on so many fronts that it is entirely inspiring to read.
The authors created two inspiring young women. There is Jasmine, who is grappling with being a large black girl and the constant microaggressions she faces for both her race and size. Her father is dying of cancer while she may be falling for her best male friend. Chelsea is a white girl who stands up for others, calls out for justice, but also makes big mistakes along the way. She is struggling with being a feminist but also being attracted to a boy who is paying attention to her while dating another girl officially. The two grapple with the ideals they hold dear and not being able to attain them, allowing readers to see two human teens doing their best.
Powerful and engaging, this feminist read is written with strength and conviction. Appropriate for ages 12-18.
Reviewed from ARC provided by Bloomsbury.