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Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan – A sweet little story about bravery and community

Summary:

Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.

Amina’s Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani American and highlights the many ways in which one girl’s voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other.

My review:

Books like Amina’s Voice are the reason why I started reading diverse middle-grade books. There is something so delightful and special about these books that capture the innocence, optimism, and wonder of children and their stories.

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7

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson – Mesmerizing poetry and beautifully told

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Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

I picked up this book because I fell in love with Woodson’s story in Flying Lessons and Other Stories called Main Street. The narrative in Main Street was achingly beautiful, nostalgic, and poignant, and so on a whim, I picked up Brown Girl Dreaming at my library without so much as a glance at what it was about – just in time for Black History Month too.

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13

Flying Lessons and Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh – A treasure for the youth of now and for generations to come

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Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology—written by the best children’s authors—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.

In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt. This impressive group of authors has earned among them every major award in children’s publishing and popularity as New York Times bestsellers.

From these distinguished authors come ten distinct and vibrant stories.

I loved Flying Lessons and Other Stories. This book was the perfect book to start off 2017 – it filled me with so much joy, reminded me of the ups and downs of youth, and filled me with so much hope — hope, because kids with marginalized identities may read this book and find themselves in the stories’ characters. And I cannot emphasize how important this is – and consequently how this makes Flying Lessons and Other Stories so important and successful.

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4

Descent by Katie O’Sullivan

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When a freak tornado devastates his Oklahoma farm, fifteen-year-old Shea moves to Cape Cod to live with a grandmother he’s never met. Struggling to make sense of his new surroundings, he meets a girl along the shore who changes his life forever.

Kae belongs to an undersea world hidden from drylanders, where bloody war rages between opposing clans. A fragile peace accord hinges on marriage between the royal families, but treachery and magick lurk in every shadow.

With Kae’s help, Shea discovers his true heritage and finds that his destiny lies somewhere far below the ocean’s surface.

I received a copy from Patchwork Press – Cooperative via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

With the ocean covering seventy percent of Earth, the deepest part of the ocean reaching eleven kilometres in depth and most ocean species have yet to be discovered, the ocean is the perfect place to craft an imaginative and mysterious world uniquely different to our own. And mermaids. Everyone knows about mermaids. When I was young, after watching The Little Mermaid, I wanted to be a mermaid. With the palpable absence of mermaids in fiction, Descent by Katie O’Sullivan was a pleasant discovery, and a book I certainly had to read.

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