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Historical Conflicts and the Toll on People and Other Living Things

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

Cover art for Cane Warriors features a blue and black photograph of a young Black boy with an ink drawing of Tacky's Rebellion in the background.

Four of the books from WoW Recommends 2021 address the toll of historical conflict: Cane Warriors, Brother’s Keeper, Cat Man of Aleppo, and They Called Us Enemy. All offer spaces of contemplation and discovery, discussion and decision-making. All are great reads. Continue reading

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A Review of Recommended Books for 2021

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

Throughout the year, a member of the Worlds of Words community recommends a book for others to enjoy. In 2021, we highlighted 12 books, and I thought it would be great to see them all together to get a sense of how 2021 unfolded. There are six middle/secondary school novels, one graphic novel and five picturebooks worthy of a second look. Here are the books we recommended:

Cover art for Cane Warriors features a blue and black photograph of a young Black boy with an ink drawing of Tacky's Rebellion in the background.
Cane Warriors (2020) by Alex Wheatle. Set in 1760 Jamaica, Moa is an enslaved 14-year-old boy who works the sugar cane fields. While his family is also on the plantation, he rarely sees them, but does affiliate with a small group of others to consider escaping over the celebration of the Easter holiday. Moa is frightened, but believes in the cause of freedom, and thus is resolved to join the others in either escape or a fight for freedom. This narrative chronicles Tacky’s Rebellion, an actual historical event, and one seldom studied in schools or written about for younger readers. While written in common usage English, the dialogue is Jamaican patois, giving it an authentic richness. A narrative that is both insightful and uplifting, Cane Warrior is a critical addition to Caribbean literature.

Alex Wheatle is a finalist for the 2021 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature and Cane Warriors was Shortlisted for the 2020 Caribbean Readers’ Awards. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: They Called Us Enemy

Cover art shows a line of people waiting to enter an internment camp and one Japanese boy looking over his shoulder at the reader.
George Takei is well-known as the actor who portrayed Sulu, the physicist on board the USS Enterprise in the Star Trek series. Now in his 80’s, his graphic memoir They Called Us Enemy chronicles points in his life connected to his years in the WWII Japanese internment camps. So how does one go from being an ostracized child surrounded by barbed wire to a beloved TV star? The graphic novel answers that question, but it does much more. It gives a window into the complex history of the internment camps and how one family of five weathered the four-year journey that started in the spring of 1942 with the forced move from their Los Angeles home to the Santa Anita racetrack horse stables. They then spent two years at Camp Rohwer in Arkansas, and finally two years in Camp Tule Lake in Northern California from where they left in March of 1946 to return to Los Angeles. Continue reading

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MTYT: They Called Us Enemy

By Michele Ebersole, University of Hawaii, Hilo, HI, and Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

Michele and Yoo Kyung continue on the theme of Rethinking Cultural and Physical Borders in Children’s Literature: Understanding Today’s Global Politics Through History. This week, they look at They Called Us Enemy by George Takei.

Banner displays bibliographic information also available at the end of this post. Continue reading