Queer YA: Laurel Wanrow’s Guardian of the Pines

Guardian of the Pines (The Windborne Book 2)Every once in awhile I invite guest contributors to review for Raise Them Righteous. This review of Laurel Wanrow’s Guardian of the Pines is by Sean Farrell, a lecturer of English at the University of Texas at Arlington. I hope this won’t be his last contribution!

YA fantasy can sometimes feel a bit same-y: a chosen one goes on a quest and defeats a great evil, perhaps finding love along the way. Laurel Wanrow, in Guardian of the Pines, inverts or flat-out ignores many of these familiar tropes, leading to a unique fantasy adventure that feels like a breath of fresh air. Continue reading

Matt Mendez’s Barely Missing Everything

Barely Missing Everything

Matt Mendez’s emotionally demanding Barely Missing Everything (2019) explores the lives of working-class Mexican Americans living in El Paso, TX.  A teenage boy named Juan anchors the text, which focalizes his experiences as well as those of his mother, Fabi, and his best friend, JD.

Juan and JD are high school seniors planning life after high school, but just barely. They both have hazy visions of the future. JD, a film enthusiast, aspires to make movies and carries a camera wherever he goes. Juan, a high school basketball star on a mediocre team, doesn’t imagine himself doing anything else. Additionally, Fabi, a teen mom turned 30-something mom of a teenager, tends bar to make ends meet. Continue reading

Monica Clark-Robinson’s Let the Children March

Let the Children MarchLet the Children March, written by Monica Clark-Robinson and illustrated by Frank Morrison, is a brilliant and bold children’s picture book that brings the Birmingham Children’s Crusade of 1963 to life for young readers.

In the South, Jim Crow laws enforced segregation, which led to unequal access to education, employment, health care, and housing. Leaders in the Black Civil Rights movement came up with many strategies to end segregation. Continue reading

Mosca’s The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes

The Story of Dr. PB Cover_1600px_300DPI_5MB (1).jpgIf I only had two adjectives to describe The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes, written by Julia Finley Mosca and illustrated by Daniel Rieley, I would, without hesitation, choose witty and bold. The book’s cover features disembodied eyeballs floating on a purplish background as well as a woman with brown skin and long dark hair holding an ophthalmoscope. It’s a wonderful introduction to a picture book that is a little silly, a little serious, and brilliantly engaging. The book is one of a small handful in Innovation Press’s Amazing Scientists Series, which provides socially relevant biographies of scientists who have overcome structural inequality to become experts in their fields. All the books in the series are written by Mosca and illustrated by Rieley providing a sense of aesthetic and lyrical coherence to the collection. Continue reading