M Is for Movement

96p. Triangle Square. Nov. 2019. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781609809355..
Gr 3-7–As an unnamed narrator (with no gender specification) is thrust into a growing Indonesian social movement, readers are presented with an array of social concepts that are integrated into the narrative without condescension or artificiality. Born to a well-known dissident and an American-born mother who protested segregation, the narrator has always felt different from other Indonesian children. When they and their friend learn about protesting university students being shot, they decide to investigate. Although no specific date is given, the mentions of Richard Nixon’s resignation and references to the American Indian Movement, United Farm Workers movement, gay liberation, and the Soweto uprising place the narrative in the mid-to-late 1970s. The diversity of Indonesian society and the lingering effects of Dutch colonization are impressively detailed. Indonesian and English words that are defined in the narrative are italicized. An impassioned epilogue about the types of people needed for “real social movement” (people “willing to fail,” impatient, “loyal and united,” and stubborn) concludes the story.
VERDICT A unique and insightful read about the importance of public protest and speaking out against injustice. With its smooth read-aloud quality and vivid illustrations, this could be shared with a wide range of ages, from elementary school to adult.

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