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Cover Reveal: Concrete Kids and Taking on the Plastics Crisis

Cover reveal time! We’re excited to reveal two new additions to the Pocket Change Collective today: Concrete Kids by Amyra León and Taking on the Plastics Crisis by Hannah Testa. We’re also sharing an exclusive excerpt and author Q&A for each!

Pocket Change Collective was born out of a need for space. Space to think. Space to connect. Space to be yourself. And this is your invitation to join us. To see the full series, click here. 

First up, Concrete Kids:

concrete kids

Designer: Julia Rosenfeldand, Illustrator: Ashley Lukashevsky


See the Q&A with Amyra below!


In your own words, describe your Pocket Change Collective book?

Concrete Kids is a love letter to Harlem and children like me who have danced in darkness and still manage to summon joy in the morning. It is an unapologetic reflection of my journey toward self love and liberation. It lingers in the tension of abundance and drought. An ode to the angels who kept me alive and the woman I am because I chose to be.


What was your inspiration for writing it? 

The systems that were built to protect and educate me are often the very shadows I am running from. There is an urgent need for the world to understand the consequences of these somewhat ethereal systems and the way they violently impact real people, especially children. I wanted to create a safe place for readers who may see themselves reflected in my story. A place where they could be invited to recognize their power, to be softer with themselves, to feel safe in their rage. Amidst the chaos, there is joy. There is music.


What was your reaction to the cover? 

I was overwhelmed with gratitude. It is stunning!! I cried and immediately sent a screenshot to my loved ones. It was crucial that the work be housed in a way that fully translated the essence of the story within. I wanted it to be something that honored me, the mother who chose me, and Harlem. I am beside myself with joy at the patience and craft Ashley blessed us with!


Read an excerpt of Concrete Kids below:

This is for the concrete kids.

The kids with a melanin kiss. The kids drenched in poverty. The kids who are told to cut their

hair, to tame their tone. The kids who are told to shorten their names and disappear their

tongues. The kids who are told they will amount to nothing. The smart kids who are told they

are problematic. The problematic kids who are told they are stupid. The kids who are taking care

of their families in-between extracurriculars. The kids who cannot go to extracurriculars because

they are taking care of their families. The stoop kids. The hungry kids. The thirsty kids. The

foster kids. The kids who aged out of the system. The missing kids. The homeless kids. The kids

in jail. The kids awaiting trial. The innocent kids. The kids who never got to be kids. The kids

navigating the violence of hands. The kids who are being taught to fear themselves. The kids

who refuse. The kids in gangs. The kids thinking about joining gangs. The kids who started

them. The adults they became.

The adults who wait for the blood to dry out in the sun with the laundry.

The kids who bury the adults. The adults who bury the kids.

The angels they became. The angels they will become.

More specifically—this is for the boy in the white tee and the breath I saw escape him.


Pre-order Concrete Kids here!


Next up is Taking on the Plastics Crisis by Hannah Testa!

taking on the plastics crisis

Designer: Julia Rosenfeldand, Illustrator: Ashley Lukashevsky


See the Q&A with Hannah below!


In your own words, describe your Pocket Change Collective book?
Taking on the Plastics Crisis is about the growing threat of single-use plastics and the impact of plastic pollution on the environment, animals, and human health. I share my journey as a youth activist fighting the plastic industry and how others can join in the fight to protect my generation’s future from the fossil fuel industry disguised as plastic.


What was your inspiration for writing it? 

No one wants to be a polluter, many people just don’t know any better or how to get involved. Plastic pollution can be very overwhelming and I want to be able to help create a guide on how to get started.


What was your reaction to the cover? 

I was sitting at the airport to go to a conference (pre-covid19) when I got the ray of sunshine in my inbox. I was so ecstatic to see it finally. I teared up to see that all the hard work I have put into this book was coming together. It is so beautiful and I am so excited to share it with everyone.


Read an excerpt of Taking on the Plastics Crisis below!

Most people probably believe that because they recycled, they were doing everything they could to fight plastic pollution.  But it turns out that recycling isn’t the perfect solution we had been led to believe. And no, I’m not suggesting that we stop recycling because we shouldn’t. It’s just that recycling alone isn’t really enough. And, unfortunately, if we’re not recycling properly, we may be causing more of a problem.

The great recycling myth we’ve all been led to believe has lulled us into nearly guilt-free consumption of plastic products. This is a result of shrewd marketing by the plastic industry.  Their marketing has also given us the false expectation that any plastic we buy that includes the green logo (the green triangle with the number inside) can be recycled without implications.  This is far from the truth.  There are lots of issues and challenges for consumers and communities when it comes to recycling.

First and foremost, the recycling logo we see on many plastic products doesn’t mean the product is recycled, it merely identifies the type of plastic material.  Logos with the numbers 1 or 2, for example, are very common types of plastic, yet numbers 3 through 7 are less common.  Many people think if they see the logo, it means “I can recycle this” but that isn’t necessarily so.

Second, recycling isn’t easy. It takes effort for individuals and consumers to separate plastic for recycling from the regular trash. For instance, when dining at a fast-food restaurant that has recycling bins, there’s a good chance of seeing diners throwing all of their trash away without taking the time to separate the recycling from the regular trash.  This all-too-regular occurrence is just a part of the reason that less than 10% of the world’s plastic gets recycled (and that percentage appears to be declining year after year).

Third, recycling is confusing and isn’t very straightforward. What can be recycled?  What cannot be recycled? Can we recycle plastic bags? Do we have to clean the plastic material before recycling?  What about the labels and caps on bottles?  Are there some plastics that cannot be recycled? These are just a handful of the many questions that plague the most conscious-consumers who are trying to do their part to help the planet.


Pre-order Taking on the Plastics Crisis here!



Looking for more great reads? Click here to see our Fantasy Reader’s Guide to 2020!

Penguin Teen