Justice Is...: A Guide for Young Truth Seekers

Crown. Jan. 2022. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593176627.
K-Gr 3–Adult readers will understand that ideas of justice are inexorably tangled with complicated emotional and political legacies, so distilling the idea for very young readers is tricky. This book makes a valiant attempt to create an accessible and resonant introduction to Justice (with a capital J) as supported by the actions of historical figures. The difficulty here is that the historical figures, while immediately recognizable to adults, are provided without much context. Children won’t have the context for connecting the very specific illustrated examples to the generalizations in the text. Adults will be able to identify Barack Obama or Nelson Mandela, but the accompanying text is completely abstract, not mentioning either by name or explaining the impact of their contributions. Journalist Ida B. Wells is identified as she makes notes about a scene of a Black man in ropes surrounded by other men. One passage says that “no one is above the law” next to an illustration of bystanders reading about Nixon’s impeachment in the newspapers. Back matter provides a sentence or two about each individual and event, but it’s unwieldy to flip back and forth. The book also pivots part way through from showing positive examples of individuals making progress toward equity to portraying examples of injustice, such as slavery and the Holocaust.
VERDICT An admirable and progressive introduction to complex ideas that, without additional background, may have more resonance for adults than children.

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