Kim B.'s blog

Everything Sad is Untrue: (a True Story)

Indeed this is a true story of a boy named Khosrou, who became known as "Daniel" when he and his mother and sister immigrated to the United States. Author Daniel Nayeri writes from his perspective as a child who loved his relatives and his ancient house in Iran, but was forced into a long immigration process when his mother, a doctor, converted from Islam to Christianity and was thereafter considered a criminal in her own country. The fictionalized account makes many references to the storytelling of the legendary Persian queen Scheherazade, and Nayeri writes as if his own survival depends on telling the many small stories and captured memories, whether poignant, mundane, or traumatic, that make him the person he is today. Humor and also sadness abound, and there is some blood and violence.

This book won the Michael L. Printz Award for literary excellence in young adult literature, in 2021.

Black Brother, Black Brother

Donte and his brother Trey go to a private middle school where most of their classmates are white. They are biracial; their mother is black and their father is white. Trey is very light-skinned and can pass as white whereas Donte has darker skin and is known as “Black Brother.” Because of Donte’s skin color, he is bullied at his middle school by a white kid named Alan. Alan sets Donte up and gets him in trouble involving the police.

Donte eventually finds the sport of fencing, which is Alan’s sport too, and this brings him to a place of understanding of where he fits in the world. By the time Donte faces off with Alan in a fencing match, Donte is confident in who he is and where he is going in his life.

This book deals with racism and bullying in middle school in a real and relatable way. Readers will learn a lot about fencing and how sports can give people confidence in who they are.

While I was Away

When 12 year-old Waka's parents think she needs to brush up on her Japanese, they send her to Japan to live with her Obaasama, her grandmother, who lives in Tokyo. Five long months in a Japanese only school, giving up her summer vacation and her best friends back home in Kansas! In addition to dealing with the pressure of reading and writing in only Japanese, and making friends at school as a gaijin, an "outsider," Waka also learns how to connect with her complicated and distant grandmother.

A memoir of her time in a Japanese school, Waka T. Brown's story of growing up in two worlds and sometimes feeling like an outsider in both, is a compelling glimpse into life in Japan in the 80s. I loved learning right along with Waka, and her insights in how the past can sometimes haunt those we love, and knowing that can help us know them better.

Reviewed by Senior Information Assistant, Claire C.

Measuring Up

Cici loves cooking with her A-ma (grandmother) in Taiwan; it makes her feel like she belongs. But when Cici’s family moves to America and away from A-ma, Cici suddenly feels out of place. She misses Taiwan, but especially misses her A-ma. Cici wants A-ma to visit, but A-ma cannot afford the plane ticket to America. When Cici sees a cooking contest for kids offered at a local store for a cash prize, she enters right away. But will the judges be interested in her Taiwanese cooking?

Measuring Up is a delightful graphic novel about family, friendship, and identity. The story is fast paced and compelling. There are so many beautiful and delicious looking foods prepared throughout the book – expect your tummy to grumble! This book is recommended for ages 9-12.

Snapdragon

Snapdragon, who goes by Snap, is kind of a loner who doesn't believe in witches and magic like other kids in town. But even she's slightly nervous when she visits the Town Witch to rescue her dog. It turns out that the grumpy Town Witch, whose name is actually Jacks, isn't so bad at all and has actually fixed up Snap's dog. Snap is instantly taken with Jacks' mysterious and strange ways and decides to enter into a deal with her. She'll help Jacks in her "work" if Jacks will help Snap care for some baby possums she found. As they spend time together, Snap starts rethinking the possibility of witches and learns that she and Jacks have more in common than she ever could have imagined.

Learning to Hand Stitch

Imagine you’re wearing your favorite shirt. You love this shirt because it makes you feel great! The material is just the right softness, the cut is perfectly loose and comfortable, and when you wear it, you are certain you are taller and more confident. This is a cool shirt! 

Then all of a sudden, you look down and notice the hem is coming loose! What do you do? Is your favorite shirt ruined? No way, you just need to stitch it up!

But how? Well, you’ll need to learn to sew!

 

The Only Black Girls in Town

Until Edie and her mom bought the B&B across the street, Alberta and her two dads were the only Black folks in their neighborhood. Surfer girl Alberta is thrilled to find out that she and the new girl are in the same grade, and expects to immediately be besties, despite how different they are in many ways.

Then, Edie discovers a box of old journals in the attic and recruits Al to help her figure out the mystery of who wrote them, leading to a shocking discovery!

This is an excellent middle grade story about the complexities of Blackness and friendship. Appropriate for ages 8+

Reviewed by Cidne B., Senior Information Assistant

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