YA – Rehab or Punishment: What to Do about Drug Crimes

Mooney, Carla. Rehab or Punishment: What to Do about Drug Crimes. Reference Point Press, 2020. 978-1-682-82739-0. 80 p. $34.00. Grades 9-12.

Mooney hones in on a specific viewpoint of crimes that involve drugs in this book. An introduction provides the background for the debate on how to effectively deal with individuals who are convicted of drug crimes. Five chapters outline what prison looks like for those who commit drug crimes, including what treatment and rehabilitation would look like in prison, as well as views on stronger laws to deter drug crimes, alternative sentencing programs, and an inside look at drug court. The book is enhanced with source notes, organizations to contact, further research resources, and an index.

THOUGHTS: Although specific, this title would be a good addition to high school libraries who need to update their criminal justice shelves.

364.6 Penology           Samantha Hull, Ephrata Area SD

YA – History of Crime and Punishment (Series NF)

Harris, Duchess. History of Crime and Punishment. Abdo Publishing, 2020. $26.00 ea. $156.00 set of 6. 112 p. Grades 8-12.

Capital Punishment. 978-1-532-11917-0.
For-Profit Prisons.
978-1-532-11918-7.
The History of Criminal Law.
978-1-532-11919-4.
The History of Law Enforcement.
978-1-532-11920-0.
The Juvenile Justice System.
978-1-532-11921-7.
The US Prison System and Prison Life.
978-1-532-11922-4.

This reviewer had the opportunity to read For-Profit Prisons. Concise and to the point, this title is broken into eight chapters on the major topics of for-profit prisons. The chapters highlight youth incarceration, prison labor, private and publicly funded prisons, inmate care, the politics of prisons, immigration detention centers, and the future of for-profit prisons. Additionally, the book includes essential facts, a glossary and index, source notes, additional resources and information about the authors. This title is part of the History of Crime and Punishment collection.

THOUGHTS: Complete with discussion starters in each chapter, color photos, and easy to read text, this book is recommended for high school libraries who do not have any sources on for-profit prisons.

300s          Samantha Hull, Ephrata Area SD

MG – Ikenga

Okorafor, Nnedi. Ikenga. Viking, 2020. 978-0-593-11352-3. 227 p. $16.99. Grades 6-7.

Nnamdi is devastated when his father, the police chief of their Nigerian town, is murdered. He vows to get revenge, but a year later, the murder remains unsolved, and Nnamdi is increasingly frustrated as he sees his mother struggling to support them, especially after she is mugged by one of the brazen petty criminals who torment the town. That is when he encounters his father’s spirit, who gives him a small figurine called an Ikenga. Nnamdi soon discovers that the figure imbues him with superpowers like those of his favorite comic book hero, the Hulk, when he becomes enraged. While Nnamdi means to use his powers for good, taking down various local crooks, it soon becomes evident that Nnamdi has to learn how to harness his superpowers before he seriously harms someone. His alternate ego, known as The Man, is garnering much attention in the town and from the press, but not always positively, After nearly injuring his best friend, Chioma, and a classmate, Nnamdi runs away from home and hides, so he cannot endanger anyone else, or himself. However, Chioma, after an interaction with the spirit of Nnamdi’s father, pieces together what is happening and tracks Nnamdi down. With Chioma’s support, Nnamdi learns to control his abilities, unearths who murdered his father, and faces down the local crime boss. Nnamdi is an engaging character with great big flaws to go with his great big heart. Readers will empathize as he makes mistakes along the way, whether it’s jumping to conclusions or being unable to control his rage when he is The Man. Okorafor skillfully places the reader in Nnamdi’s Nigerian town, through use of local dialect and evocative description. One can easily conjure the sounds and smells of the marketplace or Nnamdi’s home. While most of the plot threads are wrapped up by the end of the book, a few loose ends hint at a sequel, which will be eagerly anticipated.

THOUGHTS: Great for fans of myth-based literature, and ties in superbly with Kwame Mbalia’s Tristan Strong series. Unfortunately, the use of profanity may make its placement in an elementary school library problematic, leaving it with a limited audience.

Fantasy          Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD