Reviews for Attack of the black rectangles

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Sixth graders stand up against censorship and systemic bias. Mac Delaney wants to recognize the unvarnished truth, whether he’s wondering about how many Declaration of Independence signers owned slaves, embracing Indigenous land acknowledgments at the dinner table, or questioning blacked-out words in classroom copies of Jane Yolen’s award-winning Holocaust novel, The Devil’s Arithmetic. However, Mac’s teacher defends censorship—as well as a bevy of school and town regulations and discriminatory attitudes surrounding LGBTQ+ pride, dress codes, curfews, and access to junk food. Mac lives with and is close to his single mother and grandfather; his disengaged father’s dishonesty and explosive anger damage his feelings of self-worth. Mac has support from aromantic and asexual friend Denis and feminist classmate Marci. Mac exhibits real growth in his understanding of Marci’s perspective and advocacy. Reading The Devil’s Arithmetic also influences a Vietnamese American classmate to use her real given name, rather than the Anglicized form, something she felt pressured to do in their 97% White town. Though the school’s administration resists the young people’s challenges, the students’ movement builds a promising following on the way to a cathartic showdown with the school board. The protagonists clarify the various issues for readers who may not be aware of them, and the story skillfully encourages keeping open minds and extending grace to the oblivious and hostile alike. An author’s note addresses the real-world events that inspired the book. A searingly relevant opus to intellectual freedom. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.