Betita is a nine-year-old girl with a loving family in modern-day America. She enjoys learning new words, spelling, drawing, and playing with other kids her age. What appears to be a rather normal life quickly begins to unravel into fear and uncertainty when her Papi doesn’t pick her up after school one day. After failing to reach her father, the principal drives Betita home. While her mother tries to hide her worry, Betita knows something is wrong, and she soon finds out that the almost-worst has happened. Her father has been deported, leaving her mother, who is newly pregnant, and Betita to fend for themselvesRead More →

A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi is a story that captures the ideas of belonging and imagination and poverty and richness, with a focus on economic disparity  With her novel, Faruqi also pays homage to Karachi, a city of her own childhood, as she attempts to help readers better understand Pakistan. To fulfill this objective, Faruqi creates eleven-year-old Mimi, whose father, Tom Scotts, is a journalist who travels a lot for his job. Her mother, Samia, is an art teacher and painter.  Because the couple has grown apart and decide to separate, Mimi, who is about to enter sixth grade in Houston, feels abandoned andRead More →

Through her newest middle grade novel, One Time, Sharon Creech reminds us all how our lives can be forever impacted by a highly effective teacher. She also reminds readers of the power of writing, while inspiring the imagination with two explicitly asked questions: 1) Who are you? and 2) Who could you become? Miss Lightstone poses these questions to her class. Because they are ingrained by “doing school” a certain way, the class initially resists. However, with intentional lessons, well-executed pedagogical moves, careful chosen words, and key dispositions on Miss Lightstone’s part, soon they are experimenting, engaging, and performing without grades in what feels likeRead More →

Three Keys

Try as I might, I was unable to limit my review of Three Keys by Kelly Yang to three keys to its greatness.  I started with It’s about a goat named Scape and the issue of immigration and how it’s easy to blame those in a weak spot; It proves that although most people don’t change, some people do; and It shares how small interactions have the power to change minds and to make a big impact for those vulnerable to exploitation, abuses, misinformation, and hopelessness. But I realized I couldn’t stop with that short list.  Yang’s book goes beyond any simple storyline to capture someRead More →

A story of resilience, Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero by Kelly J. Baptist addresses the issue of homelessness from a child’s perspective. The Dunn family’s homelessness is brought on by the death of Isaiah’s and Charlie’s father, Gary Dunn, on November 24 due to a heart attack. Gary’s wife, Lisa subsequently falls into a debilitating depression accompanied by a bout with alcoholism. While his mother is incapacitated by grief, Isaiah is expected to watch and entertain his four-year-old sister and to keep up in school at Woodson Elementary.  This ten-year-old young man is forced to accept other responsibilities, as well.  Hoping to get the fundsRead More →

Readers of Wendy Maas, Wendelin Van Draanen, and Sarah Dessen will also likely enjoy Keep It Together, Keiko Carter by Debbi Michiko Florence.  The title character, Keiko Carter, is looking forward to seventh grade with her two besties: Jenna Sakai and Audrey Lassiter.  However, their long-standing friendship is rocked by changing interests and complications with dates to the Fall Ball. Boy-obsessed fashionista, Audrey is a fan of online quizzes, yoga, and the spotlight, while Jenna is more interested in journalism, study habits, the honors track, and quiet moments. Caught in the middle, chocolate-loving Keiko is a fixer.  Because she prefers a conflict-free life, she triesRead More →

Whether readers celebrate National Space Day in May, World Space Week in October, or simply dream of someday being an astronaut, We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly is an inspiring book. It will also appeal to those who enjoy arcade games or who have ever wondered about family, friendship, tragedy, science, and exploration. Kelly’s book follows three plot threads as it accompanies the experiences of Henry Nelson Thomas (aka Fitch), Bernadette Nelson Thomas (aka Bird), and Cash Nelson Thomas.  The perspectives of these three siblings add unique insights to being twelve and thirteen while living in Delaware in the 1980s. Fitch received hisRead More →

Hi, my name is Sabrina. I live in Arizona. I am 10 years old and in the 5th grade. I have recently read the book Can You See Me? by Libby Scott & Rebecca Westcott. This is my review on it. Personally, I think this is a very good book. It is great for readers in the 5th and 6th grades, so mostly ages 10-13. The story follows an 11 year old autistic girl named Tally who is going into the 6th grade. Can You See Me? helped me better understand what autism is and what it feels like to be autistic. This book includedRead More →

Author of the Stonewall Book Award for Hurricane Child, Kacen Callender has written a new book, King and the Dragonflies targeted for readers in grades three through seven. Set in Richardson, Louisiana, King and the Dragonflies relates the challenge that twelve-year-old Kingston Reginald James has in coping with the sudden and unexpected death of his sixteen-year-old brother Khalid.  While enduring the waves of grief, King must also navigate a series of identity issues on his own since his parents are immersed in their own grief, and his older brother is no longer around to confide in. Shy and prone to reticence, King loves anime, enjoysRead More →