Phenomenal AOC: The Roots and Rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

HarperCollins. Sept. 2022. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780063113749.
Gr 1-5–Brilliant, brainy, articulate, controversial, beautiful, devoted to family and cause, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is an exciting changemaker for many, and the story of how she became the youngest congresswoman ever at 29 is inspiring. This picture book begins with her birth in a working-class neighborhood in the Bronx and ends with her surprising election against a long-time incumbent in 2018. Ocasio-Cortez’s parents left the Bronx when she was just five and moved to Yorktown Heights, primarily for the education of their two children. This move, along with the family’s ongoing connection to the Bronx, would be pivotal in Ocasio-Cortez’s life. She saw with startling clarity the divide between “wage-working and wealthy neighborhoods.” She was underestimated because of her skin color, and inequity lit a spark of activism in her "that would later become a fire." After joining with 300 Native tribes to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline, Ocasio-Cortez became a changemaker for social, racial, economic, and environmental justice. Although the story does not cover her work as a congresswoman, the end pages mention her Green New Deal legislation and provide five steps for young people to become changemakers. The story is sprinkled with ethnic vocabulary that celebrates Ocasio-Cortez’s heritage. The vibrant, two-dimensional illustrations capture the intensity of her commitment to helping the environment and bringing progressive justice.
VERDICT An empowering picture book that captures the substance, style, and celebrity surrounding one of the most watched, dynamic figures in Congress today.

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