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April 15, 2017 BOOKLIST
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Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings. By Margarita Engle. Illus. by Edel Rodriguez. 2015. Atheneum, $17.99 (9781481435222). Gr. 5–8.
Although Engle’s memoir in verse isn’t fiction, it perfectly fits this theme. In her moving poems, she reflects on her childhood and evocatively addresses weighty issues, such as being bicultural, the challenge of moving homes and schools, living through the Cuban Revolution, and negotiating an identity that is being torn apart by politics and social attitudes at complete odds with her feelings and experiences.
Finding My Place. By Traci L. Jones. 2010. Farrar, $16.99 (9780374335731). Gr. 5–8.
When Tiphanie starts ninth grade at a predominantly white high school in 1975, her parents, veterans of the civil rights movement, give her a speech about “upholding the race.” At first, she sees racism everywhere, but as she engages with her new classmates—while still seeing racism—she also sees people who are curious and kind.
Inside Out and Back Again. By Thanhà Lai. 2011. Harper, $15.99 (9780061962783). Gr. 4–8.
After Hà, her mother, and brothers flee Vietnam, they eventually land in Alabama in 1975, where she finds refuge but also cruel rejection. In short, free-verse poems, Hà describes her struggle to adjust to a new culture and language as well as her anguish of being an outcast. And even as she begins to shape a new life, there is no easy comfort: her father is still gone.
It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel. By Firoozeh Dumas. 2016. Clarion, $16.99 (9780544612310). Gr. 5–8.
At age 11, Iranian Zomorod Yousefzadeh’s plan for fitting in at Newport Beach’s middle school starts with having a new American name: Cindy. In 1979, Cindy’s scheme to sidestep questions about life in Iran is working like a charm until the Iranian hostage crisis makes the news, and Cindy’s family becomes the target of attacks and prejudice. Dumas seamlessly integrates Cindy’s struggle to balance the demands of two cultures into a relatable tale of middle-school drama.
One Crazy Summer. By Rita Williams-Garcia. 2010. Amistad, $15.99 (9780060760885). Gr. 4–7.
When Delphine and her sisters are sent to Oakland in 1968 to visit their estranged mother, Cecile, it’s nothing like they expect. Their mother is distant and prickly, and they spend most of their time at a Black Panther–run community center. Strong-willed, responsible Delphine stirringly narrates this vibrant novel about the subtle ways political movements affect personal lives as well as the universal story of children discovering a reluctant parent’s love.
The Rock and the River. By Kekla Magoon. 2009. Aladdin, $15.99 (9781416975823). Gr. 6–10.
In Chicago in 1968, Sam, 14, obeys his father, who’s passionately committed to nonviolent protest. But after King is assassinated and Sam witnesses police brutality, he joins the Black Panthers, whose revolutionary platform is the opposite of his father’s. This taut, eloquent novel captures the seething fury and desperation over the daily discrimination that drove the oppressed to fight back as well as Sam’s loving, intense family drama.
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