21 Jul / The Burning (Young Readers Edition): Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 by Tim Madigan, adapted by Hilary Beard [in School Library Journal]
Two decades after Tim Madigan wrote The Burning: Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 about “the nation’s worst race war,” award-winning writer Hilary Beard heightens the event’s significance with amplified awareness of social justice, systemic racism, and critical race theory in this young readers edition. While crediting white journalist Madigan with well-deserved appreciation for his “craftsmanship … skill … artistry,” Beard also took “the opportunity to add some additional context and a new perspective” – adroitly enhancing the mostly white, male chronicles with those of the accomplished men and women of Black Wall Street.
Bill Andrew Quinn, who narrated the adult title, returns here, but his recasting initially jars as he reads Beard’s insightful introduction, written in the first person, in which she identifies herself within minutes “as an African American, as a woman.”
Verdict: What follows is a consistently adequate performance throughout, but such a crucial narrative certainly deserved better than merely fine.
From the introduction: All the titles here are nonfiction; most feature difficult subjects including history, climate change, systemic racism. Some might ask, why expose younger readers to challenging, unpleasant, haunting truths? One of the featured writers, Hilary Beard, provides the consummate answer back in her introduction to The Burning:
“…the fact that something is upsetting to us doesn’t mean that we should not engage it. Facing the truth empowers us to understand our self, our neighbors, and our world more accurately; to make appropriate choices and decisions; to heal the past and present and build a more promising future. Together.”
Readers: Young Adult