Kid’s Book Review: All American Boys (illustrated edition)

Kid’s Book Review: All American Boys (illustrated edition)

About the Book and Illustrator

This is a special illustrated edition of the moving book by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely that explores racism and racial violence. It includes evocative black and white illustrations from Akhran Girmay. (We have included a couple of examples below and also shown how the text message dialogue is presented in the story).

After a violent act that leaves their community and, ultimately, the country divided, Rashad and Quinn – one Black, one White – face the truth that racism and prejudice are all around us. And there’s a future at stake, a future where no one will have to deal with police brutality. They just have to risk everything they’ve ever known to speak out.

Here is a link to our kids’ review of the non-illustrated edition of All American Boys that is also published by Faber.

All American Boys Illustrated Edition
Akhran Girmay

Akhran Girmay is a Bristol based Illustrator and graduate of Falmouth University in Cornwall. He is enthralled by storytelling from ancient mythologies and enjoys himself the act of world building, using a mixture of fantasy and folktales to create areas for escapism. Through these processes he takes inspiration from both his own authored narratives as well as pre-existing texts. Often his stylistic objective is to produce textured and coarse illustrations through use of traditional media and with a focus on dynamic and bold characterisations. You can follow him on Instagram.

Jason Reynolds is an American author who writes novels and poetry for young adult and middle-grade audiences, including Ghost, a National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature.

Brendan Kiely is The New York Times bestselling author of All American Boys (with Jason Reynolds), Tradition, The Last True Love Story, and The Gospel of Winter. His most recent book is The Other Talk: Reckoning with Our White Privilege. His work has been published in over a dozen languages, and has received the Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award, the Walter Dean Meyers Award, and ALA’s Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults.

Book Review

It encourages people to take a stance against issues such as racism and be active in our communities to fight for things that they are passionate about

All American Boys is an eye-opening story about deep routed racism in the USA. The story unfolds as an innocent black teenager is brutally attacked by a police officer for allegedly stealing a packet of crisps. The story is told from two different perspectives, the victim of the attack and an eyewitness to the assault. As the story develops a divide forms in all aspects of their lives involving their friends, family and school and Rashad and Quinn, the two main characters, have to make decisions that will impact their futures.

I really enjoyed this book as it is powerful and thought provoking and represents current issues that exist in our society today. Rashad and Quinn are both fun and likeable characters and the authors cleverly allow you to see how they deal with the incident in their own ways influenced by the important people in their lives.

Throughout the book the illustrator, Akhran Girmay includes detailed pencil sketches of the key emotional moments of the story. These illustrations enable you to empathise with the characters and recognise the emotions they are feeling. One of my favourite illustrations represents a protest march outside the shop where Rashad was beaten as it shows the power of activism and how it can bring about change.

The story evoked several different emotions for me as the reader. Some heart warming and some shocking. The lasting impact of the story is one of realisation of the divides that exist in our world today. However, it also encourages people like myself to take a stance against issues such as racism and be active in our communities to fight for things that they are passionate about.


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If you would would like to buy a copy of the book we invite you to order it from your local independent book shop.

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Alternatively, we suggest that you visit your local library and request to borrow a copy from a friendly librarian.

Whichever you choose, we hope you enjoy being part of your unique reading community – happy reading everyone!


Reviewer Profile

Reviewer Photo
  • Name: Jacob
  • Age: 14 years
  • Likes: sport, history and holidays
  • Dislikes: early mornings and onions
  • Favourite Book: Scythe By Neil Shusterman
  • Favourite Song: Feel Good Inc. by Gorrilaz
  • Favourite Film: Star Wars