Young, Fearless, Awesome: Twenty-Five Young People Who Changed the World

B.E.S. Oct. 2020. 112p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781438089096.
Gr 5 Up–This illustrated compilation of short bios highlights influential children and teens from the last century. Brief expository text details what makes the profiled individual “fearless and awesome,” with a question and answer segment. The featured changemakers include Anne Frank (an “extraordinary diarist”), Samantha Smith (an “ambassador of peace”), Iqbal Masih (a “children’s rights champion”), and Alexandra Scott (a “fabulous fundraiser”). Six illustrators capture the 25 young people, with a clear layout and dynamic portraits. The overly positive text and imagined question and answer format are unsettling when paired with some of the personal experiences, which are traumatic and heartbreaking. For instance, one questions if Alexandra Scott (who battled neuroblastoma and died at the age of eight) might truly suggest that a child who breaks a bone and cannot play soccer with their friends should make lemonade out of lemons, or if Sonita Alizadeh (an Afghan activist who used rap music to advocate against child marriage and later moved to the United States) would advise young readers to “try to do what makes you happy.”
VERDICT The serious nature of what happened to many of the spotlighted individuals paired with the saccharine text makes for a tone-deaf read, particularly when compared with other titles in the ever-expanding genre. Not recommended.

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