Teen Trailblazers: 30 Daring Boys Whose Dreams Changed the World

Macmillan/Castle Point. Sept. 2022. 128p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250281616.
Gr 5-8–Hamilton composer Lin-Manuel Miranda was singing as soon as he could speak and would record his performances when still in elementary school. Late San Francisco politician Harvey Milk knew he was gay by the time he reached high school but kept his sexuality a secret from family and friends until years later. An introductory note by Calvert explains that the focus on these 30 innovators and activists as boys (another title by the author profiles 30 “fearless girls”) is not that they achieved early fame, but that this is when “the seeds of change were planted and cultivated in each of them.” Subjects represent diverse backgrounds and histories, ranging from 18th-century mathematician and astronomer Benjamin Banneker to contemporary gun control activist David Hogg. Sidebar texts provide supplemental information, such as a brief history and description of South Africa’s apartheid system in the chapter on Nelson Mandela, and break up large blocks of text, helpful for reluctant or less confident readers. Some chapters bring attention to social and disability issues: Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri’s autism, for example, or novelist John Green’s challenges with OCD. Frequent illustrations by Asanovic are colorful and quirky, resembling 1990s-era clip art. There are no photographs, source notes, citations, or suggestions for further reading provided.
VERDICT While a teen-centered perspective and focus on achievement and social impact are appealing, collective biographies can be a difficult sell and the absence of any back matter makes this one difficult to recommend.

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