"Beyond the Headlines: New Books on Current Issues"

Vicki Reutter reviews both "Nujood Ali and the Fight Against Child Marriage" by Katherine Don and "Grace Akallo: The Pursuit of Justice for Child Soldiers" in the School Library Journal. Both books are published in the Out in Front series by Morgan Reynolds. She writes:

"In 2008, the New York Times reported the story of Nujood Ali, a 10-year-old Yemeni girl who went to the courthouse alone to demand a divorce from her 30-year-old husband who had repeatedly raped her after promising he wouldn’t consummate the arranged marriage until she matured. In Nujood Ali and the Fight Against Child Marriage (Morgan Reynolds, 2015; Gr 8 Up), Katherine Don elaborates on Ali’s childhood and family circumstance in an effort to bring to light factors affecting the health and safety of young girls in countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria—countries where child marriages persist.

"Don’s documentary approach offers large, vibrant photographs of child brides, depictions of daily life and impoverished surroundings in the countries where the girls live. One chapter suggests a comparison to high rates of teen pregnancy in industrial nations, such as the United States, that results in similar educational and economic disadvantages for young girls. A bibliography and web sites offer a wealth of information, including a link to, an ongoing global effort to end child marriage.

"In a companion title, readers can learn more about children pressed into armed conflict historically and and in modern times. Kem Knapp Sawyer’s Grace Akallo and the Pursuit of Justice for Child Soldiers (Morgan Reynolds, 2015: Gr 8 Up) begins with the account of the kidnapping of 15-year-old Grace Akallo’s by Ugandan rebels in 1996. Forced into servitude, she became the fifth wife of a lieutenant, and when ordered to, killed rebel enemies. Akallo eventually escaped and found refuge with Ugandan allies, and ultimately began a new life (that included college) in the United States.

"The gripping narrative alternates with other examples of children in conflict, including boys who lied about their age to enlist in the American Civil War, the coercion of young boys and girls to be executioners by Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge , and Palestinian Hamas who offered children schooling and weapon training. The oversized format resembles a dedicated magazine featuring a gripping story, related asides, and large captioned photos. Grace Akallo brings attention to the plight of children still being enlisted in armed encounters around the world and will appeal to fans of true stories about remarkable young people. The “Out in Front Series” also includes David Aretha’s Malala Yousafzai and the Girls 
of Pakistan about the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner."

Vicki Reutter recognizes that "students care deeply about issues that affect humanity"—in the same article for SLJ, she also reviews books on modern slavery, Ebola, and energy alternatives. See