Staff Suggested Reading
Ms. Brit Suggests: The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman
Beautifully written, heart wrenching story of two girls in India who run away from an abusive father and try to survive living on the streets. Viji has always cared for her older sister, Rukku, who has some sort of unspecified developmental disability. When her father's abuse gets to be too much they run away and become rag pickers, wading through trash mounds daily for items they can sell. They meet two boys, Muthi and Arul, who become their family and together, the four children try to navigate life on the streets.
Ms. Brit Suggests: When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller
This heart touching (and heart wrenching) story of a girl's love for her ailing grandmother, as well as her family, involves friendship, sibling relations, intergenerational families, Korean-Americans, Korean folktales and...magical tigers. Lily's beloved Halmoni is the only person who is really *sees* her, and Lily loves her grandmother's Korean cooking, beliefs, customs, and stories. So she has no problem believing in the tiger which appears to her and tells her that the only way to save her halmoni from brain cancer is to return the stories which halmoni stole from the tiger so many years ago. Lily's efforts to outwit the tiger, reconnect with her sister, make and keep a friend, save her halmoni and finally stop being invisible and be *seen* will touch your heart in so many ways. This book is beautifully written and covers such issues as saying goodbye to a loved one while discovering and living up to who you really are. You may not believe in the power of tigers by the end, but you will believe in the power of stories and love. Available via Libby.
Ms. Brit Suggests: Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park
A wonderful story of prejudice on the frontier in the 1880's, Park has recreated a Little House on the Prairie feel, with a half white-half Chinese girl as our heroine. Hanna and her father are moving East from California after her mother, a Chinese woman, passes away. Along with all of the other hardships of life on the prairie, they must also deal with the prejudice of most of the people against a half-Chinese girl. Park writes beautifully, covering several difficult themes in this moving story.
Ms. Theresa Suggests: Blue Skies by Anne Bustard
A precious story about eleven year old, Gloria Bea who eargerly awaits her father's return from World War ll. Glory Bea, her family and neighbors prepare for the big day when the Merci Train makes its way to their hometown in Gladiola, Texas. Will Glory Bea's father finally return and take his place at the dinner table?
This middle-grade historical fiction promotes family, friends and community spirit. The story is as beautiful as the book cover.
Ms. Brit recommends: Eventown by Corey Ann Haydu
Elodee and her family leave their home and some unknown heartbreak to make a new start in Eventown. Eventown is perfect - truly, perfect! Everything is wonderful and the best. But soon Elodee realizes, everything is the same. Everyone is happy in the same bland, pleasant way, with no spikes of happiness or unhappiness. All new residents must visit the Welcoming Center and tell six of their most intense memories. Something interrupts Elodee's visit and she realizes maybe she doesn't want to forget everything in her past. Sure, she wouldn't have painful memories anymore, but would she have any memories?
In this thought provoking book, Elodee must decide if the opportunity to experience intense joy is worth the risk of also experiencing intense sorrow.
Ms. Larissa Recommends Nowhere Boy by Katherine Marsh
Nowhere Boy, Katherine Marsh; ebook available on Libby and audiobook available on Hoopla:
Nowhere Boy is an engrossing book that is both suspenseful and touching, a rare combination. Moving back and forth between the protagonists, Ahmed and Max, Marsh tells two very different stories about losing one's home and trying to find another. The main setting, Brussels, Belgium, is unusual for an English-language title -- Paris and London tend to be the favored locations for American writers who choose a European setting. It becomes clear why the writer has set the book here (not only because she happens to live there, but also to use specific Brussels-centric events as plot lines).
Fourteen-year-old Ahmed has managed to flee his destroyed home town in Syria and has found himself in Brussels (coincidentally not his first choice in European destinations). Max, an American thirteen-year-old, lives comfortably in an old, historic home with his internationally employed parents and older sister. After Ahmed finds a temporary refuge in Max's basement, the two meet. The plot is satisfyingly complex and occasionally deeply implausible, but the reader always feels connected to both characters, who each feel fully dimensional, real, and understandable.
This book presents a juvenile literature contrast to "American Dirt", which focuses on a Mexican woman and her son who try to escape Acapulco and reach the U.S. Ahmed seems like a unique human being who represents only himself, not the concept of Syrian refugees. Marsh allows Ahmed to have a very different history than Max has; she does not try to make him seem just like an American fourteen-year-old.
Ms. Robin's Recommendations for Picture Books
Ms. Brittin Recommends: Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Coraline goes exploring and discovers herself trapped in the "Other" world, where her Other Mother, Father and neighbors are very welcoming but something isn't right. The audio version, read by the author, adds a whole different layer of creepiness. Available as an eBook or eAudiobook on Libby and Hoopla.