Archive for ‘Middle-Grade Books’

June 7, 2017

Two Truths and a Lie Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway

I can’t believe it is finally here! Only a few more weeks (Publication date: June 27, 2017) before you can get your curious hands on this wonderful book. A middle-grade non-fiction filled with quirky and interesting facts about plants, animals, humans and more … but wait some of the stories are FAKE! And you the reader has to figure out fact from fiction by doing some research. It is a book to get the gears turning in kids’ minds. If you want to know more about the book, check out this wonderful review at Librarian’s Quest.

Now on to the interview to learn a bit about how they worked on this book and details on the giveaway!


1) What was your inspiration or motivation to write this book?

LAT: The idea for the book was initially Joan’s, but what really got me excited about it was Facebook. Right about the time we started working on the proposal, it felt like every day my Facebook feed was showing me some new, unbelievable story that had me wondering, Is that really true? I had to go research so many stories to verify–or dispel–them before I felt like I could share them or leave a comment. It was becoming impossible to ignore that this is the world we now live in. And, there was clearly an endless stream of material!

2) How did you divide up the work?

AJP: We roughly go half and half across the board, and within that sphere we each choose our own stories. Sometimes there may be a bit of (virtual) arm wrestling involved when we’re both excited about one particular topic, but for the most part we each get very attached to stories we’ve stumbled across in our own research. I know I’ve always got a mental list of stories I’m dying to include in the next volume. It’s so hard to whittle down that list!
Also: Laurie is our resident non-fiction expert, so she takes on the brunt of the work when it comes to bibliographies and other technical goodness. She also loves photo research, while I’m much more likely to spend my time digging for punny titles J

LAT: Thankfully, it worked out perfectly. We make a great team!

3) What challenges did you face in working on this book?

AJP: Some of the stories are more obscure than others, and for the lesser known ones it can be harder to find reliable research material—not to mention photographic evidence. Occasionally there is a story that would be amazing to include but for some reason isn’t possible. But for me, the biggest challenge is choosing which stories to include: Our current idea spreadsheet has over 450 listings! How are we supposed to narrow that down to just 27 stories per issue?!

LAT: Agreed! Narrowing the stories down to just 27… AND then fitting them into the strict 3/3/3 structure. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle! (Which I’ll admit is one of the reasons I love doing these books, but it is definitely a huge challenge.) And, as Joan said earlier, we each have some favorite stories that we just have to include, so it takes quite a bit of juggling to make it all fit and make sense.

4) What was your favorite story to work on?

AJP: Oh, that’s impossible for me to say! I had a ton of fun with just about every one of them, although I suppose I might be partial to a little guy named Mike. An upcoming tale of bees-gone-rogue in book #2 is a personal favorite. The book scorpions are pretty neat. Oh, and also the … sigh. Carry on!

LAT: Truly an impossible question. So many of them instantly leap to the front of my mind! Zombie ants? Giant anaconda? Poop pills? The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus will always have a special place in my heart for several reasons. And plants! Plants are so amazing. That didn’t really answer your question, did it? J

5) How did you make the fake stories so darn believable? Embarrassed to say I did fall for them a few times.

AJP: This was the goal – I do confess that we get a delicious thrill every time we hear that this is the case! The fact is that the true stories are so unbelievable that the fake ones blend right in and are very hard to spot. There are also some terrific hoaxes already floating around out there, which are fun to take hold of and tweak a bit for inclusion in the book.

LAT: Hooray, mission accomplished! I think truth really is stranger than fiction, so we did have that on our side, as Joan said. Also, since many of our fake ones are based on existing hoaxes, they could sound familiar… Perhaps you read them on Facebook? That’s actually my greatest fear with these books, that people will remember that they read them but forget that they were actually false!

6) I understand this book is a part of a series. Can you tell us anything about the upcoming books?

AJP: They are coming, and they will be awesome! This is the kind of book series for which it seems there is an endless source of material. That idea spreadsheet I mentioned? It grows every week. I’m so excited to have two more books on the horizon, and I’m crossing fingers that we’ll get the chance to do many, many more.

LAT: Whereas the first book was about biology and life sciences, the second book will be all about social studies: history, geography, and culture. The third one… I’m going to keep that a secret for the time being.

About the Authors:

Ammi-Joan Paquette is the author of numerous books for young readers, including the Princess Juniper series, Nowhere Girl, Rules for Ghosting, and Two Truths and a Lie, co-written with Laurie Thompson. Her picture books include Bunny Bus, Ghost in the House, and The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies. Joan is the recipient of a PEN New England Discovery Award honor, and her books have been recognized with starred reviews and on a variety of “Best of the Year” lists. In her non-writing life, she is a senior literary agent with Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Visit her on the web at www.ajpaquette.com .

A former software engineer, Laurie Ann Thompson writes for young people to help them better understand the world we live in and make it a better place for all. She strives to write nonfiction that encourages imagination and fiction the reflects universal truths, as see in Be a Changemaker, and inspiring how-to guide for teens; Emmanuel’s Dream, a picture book biography of a man who changed perceptions of disability; My Dog is The Best; and the upcoming Two Truths and a Lie series for middle-grade readers (co-authored with Ammi-Joan Paquette). Learn more at lauriethompson.com and on Twitter at @lauriethompson.

Giveaway:

For a chance to win this book, let us know two truths and a lie about yourself in the comments below. (here are mine: Jumped out of a plane. Danced for 24 hours straight. Gotten stranded on a Greek island for two days.) Deadline to enter is Monday, June 12th at 9pm PST. The contest is only open to residents of the U.S. and Canada.

 

5-Jun Librarian’s Quest

7-Jun
Flowering Minds
Pragmatic Mom

11-Jun Geo Librarian

12-Jun Book Monsters

13-Jun Smack Dab in the Middle

14-Jun Bluestocking Thinking

15-Jun
Novel Novice
Library Lions Roar

16-Jun Archimedes Notebook

18-Jun Nerdy Book Club

19-Jun Cracking the Cover

20-Jun
Writers Rumpus
The Hiding Spot

21-Jun Maria’s Melange

23-Jun Unleashing Readers

24-Jun This Kid Reviews Books

February 17, 2017

South Asian Kidlit 2017 – Part 1

Hope everyone is keeping warm this winter. Here in California, we’re just trying to stay dry in one of the wettest winters ever. Not that I’m complaining. It’s better than the string of drought years. I am still working away on my picture books and have started working on a YA historical novel. Speaking of picture books, I would love to see more South Asian titles in that category. 😉

Last summer, I posted some fantastic South Asian children’s and young adult books that released in 2016. Thanks to the We Need Diverse Books movement, #ownvoices, #diversity, and a general interest in the publishing and reading communities there has been an uptick in books that contain diversity as well as by diverse authors. Today I bring you nine titles (1 PB, 4 MG, 4 YA) that are being released in the first-half of 2017. These books are traditionally published and are either by a South Asian author, contains a South Asian Main Character, or involves South Asian culture. The books are organized by Category and then Publication Date. Come back in July for Part 2 containing books being released in the 2nd half of 2017.
south-asian-kidlit-2017
bluesky

Title: Blue Sky White Starssarvinder-naberhaus-1200
Author: Sarvinder Naberhaus
Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Category-Genre: Picture Book

Synopsis: Wonderfully spare, deceptively simple verses pair with richly evocative paintings to celebrate the iconic imagery of our nation, beginning with the American flag. Each spread is sumptuously illustrated by award-winning artist Kadir Nelson

Bio: Sarvinder Naberhaus immigrated from Punjab to the U.S. when she was four years old. Her first book, Boom Boom, was illustrated by Caldecott-honor winning artist Margaret Chodos-Irvine. She also has an upcoming board book, Lines.

Website: www.sarvinder.com
Twitter: @SarvinderN
Facebook: Sarvinder Author

amina

Title: Amina’s Voicehena-khan-low-res
Author: Hena Khan

Publisher: Salaam Reads
Publication Date: March 14, 2017
Category-Genre: Middle Grade

Synopsis: The first year of middle school is tricky for stage-shy Amina, when her best friend Soojin starts talking about changing her name and, even worse, spending time with Emily—a girl that used to make fun of them! Amina’s older brother seems to be getting into a lot of trouble and when her uncle comes to visit from Pakistan, her parents try awfully hard to impress him. But when Amina’s mosque is vandalized, she find her voice, and learns that the things that connect us will always be stronger than the things that try to tear us apart.

Bio: Hena Khan is the author of several award-winning books including Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, It’s Ramadan, Curious George, and Night of the Moon. She’s also written choose your own adventure style novels and books on space, spies, and more. Hena was born and raised in Maryland, where she still lives with her family.

Website: www.henakhan.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/henakhanbooks
Facebook: www.facebook.com/hena.khan.books
Instagram: www.instagram.com/henakhanbooks/

the-gauntletTitle: The Gauntletkayemavatar
Author: Karuna Riazi
Publisher: S&S/Salaam Reads
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Category-Genre: Middle Grade – Fantasy

Synopsis: A trio of friends from New York City find themselves trapped inside a mechanical board game that they must dismantle in order to save themselves and generations of other children in this action-packed debut that’s a steampunk Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair.

Bio: Karuna Riazi is a born and raised New Yorker, with a loving, large extended family and the rather trying experience of being the eldest sibling in her particular clan. Besides pursuing a BA in English literature, she is an online diversity advocate, blogger, and publishing intern. Karuna is fond of tea, Korean dramas, writing about tough girls forging their own paths toward their destinies, and baking new delectable treats for friends and family to relish.

Twitter: twitter.com/karunariazi

step-plate

Title: Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singhuma
Author: Uma Krishnaswami
Publisher: Tu Books/Lee & Low
Publication Date: May 1, 2017
Category-Genre: Middle Grade – Historical Fiction

Synopsis: In Yuba City, California, in the spring of 1945, Maria Singh longs to play softball. But even as Maria’s world opens up, her parents—Papi from India and Mamá from Mexico—can no longer protect their children from prejudice and from the discriminatory laws of the land. When the family is on the brink of losing their farm, nine-year-old Maria must decide if she has what it takes to step up and find her voice in an unfair world.

Bio: Uma Krishnaswami is the author of more than twenty books for young readers. She teaches in the low-residency MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, Vermont College of Fine Arts. Born in New Delhi, India, Uma now lives and writes in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Website: http://umakrishnaswami.org
Blog: https://umakrishnaswami.org/blog-writing-with-a-broken-tusk/

finding-mighty

Title: Finding Mightysheela_chari_author_photo
Author: Sheela Chari
Illustrator: R. Kikuo Johnson
Publisher: Abrams
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Category-Genre: Middle Grade – Mystery

Synopsis: Along the train lines north of New York City, twelve-year-old neighbors Myla and Peter search for the link between Myla’s necklace and the disappearance of Peter’s brother, Randall.

Bio: Sheela Chari is the author of FINDING MIGHTY (May 2017) and VANISHED, an Edgar Award nominee for best juvenile mystery, an Al Roker book pick on the Today Show, and an APALA Children’s Literature Honor Book. She has an MFA in Fiction from New York University and teaches writing at Mercy College. She lives in New York with her family.

Website: www.sheelachari.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sheela.chari
Twitter: @wordsbysheela

soulmated_cover_500

Title: Soulmatedshaila_patel_3x4-5
Author: Shaila Patel
Publisher: Month 9 Books
Publication Date: January 24, 2017
Category-Genre: Yound Adult – Paranormal Romance

Synopsis: Irish empath Liam Whelan is forced to find his fated soul mate and is drawn to Indian-American Laxshmi Kapadia–only she’s not an empath and would derail his father’s plans for when they did find “The One.” Laxshmi struggles with her own parental expectations in the form of ultimatums that leave her neither the option of pursuing dance as a career, nor an interest in her handsome new Irish neighbor. Will Liam and Laxshmi defy expectations and embrace a shared destiny, or is the risk of choosing one’s own fate too great a price?

Bio: Shaila Patel is a pharmacist by training, a medical office manager by day, and a writer by night. Her award-winning novel Soulmated debuts on 1/24/17. She enjoys traveling, craft beer, tea, and loves reading books—especially in cozy window seats. You might find her sneaking in a few paragraphs at a red light or connecting with other readers online.

Website: www.shailapatelauthor.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ShailaPatelWriter
Twitter: twitter.com/shaila_writes
Instagram: www.instagram.com/shailapatel94
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/shailapatel94

thatthingwecallheart-hc-e

Title: That Thing We Call a Heartshebakarim-sm
Author: Sheba Karim
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary

Synopsis: As Pakistani-American teen Shabnam falls for Jamie and begins to mend her friendship with her estranged best friend Farah, she learns powerful lessons about love and the true story of happened to her family during the 1947 Partition of India.

Bio: Sheba Karim’s first YA novel was Skunk Girl. Her third, The Road Trip Effect, will be out in 2018. She has an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and lives in Nashville, TN.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shebakarimwriter/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/shebakarim

when-dimple-met-rishi-front

Title: When Dimple Met Rishisandhya-menon-with-filter_443x375
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Category-Genre: Yong Adult –  Romantic Comedy

Synopsis: A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Bio: Sandhya Menon is the author of the upcoming YA novels WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI (Simon Pulse/May 30, 2017) and THE STORIES WE TOLD (Simon Pulse/Summer 2018). She was born and raised in India on a steady diet of Bollywood movies and street food, and pretty much blames this upbringing for her obsession with happily-ever-afters, bad dance moves, and pani puri. Sandhya currently lives in Colorado, where she’s on a mission to (gently) coerce her husband, son, and daughter to watch all 3,220 Bollywood movies she claims as her favorite.

Twitter: http://bit.ly/sandhyatwitter
Instagram: http://bit.ly/sandhyainsta
Facebook: http://bit.ly/sandhyamenonbooksfb

saints-arc-cover

(not final cover art)

Title: Saints and Misfitssajpic-copy
Author: S. K. Ali
Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary

Synopsis: Saints and Misfits follows Janna Yusuf, a geeky, hijabi Arab-Indian-American girl, as she navigates high school and the possibility of first love—even though Muslim girls aren’t supposed to date, right? She’s trying to figure herself out, along with her place in the world, especially if that means revealing a shattering secret that just might send ripples through her tight-knit Muslim community.

Bio: S. K. Ali was born in south India. She lived there until the age of three, at which point she found herself in Montreal, Canada. After a brief stint learning how to read, write and paint, all in French, she made her way to Toronto, where she ended up getting a degree in Creative Writing.

Twitter: @sajidahwrites
Website: skalibooks.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15615126.S_K_Ali

November 2, 2016

Dear Mrs. Naidu

dear-mrs-naiduTitle: Dear Mrs. Naidu
Author: Mathangi Subramanian
Publisher: Zubaan Books, 2015
Pages: 286
Genre: Contemporary, Multicultural
Themes: Activism, Friendship, Economic Diversity
Ages: 10 and up

Synopsis (Zubaan Books website):

Twelve-year-old Sarojini’s best friend, Amir, might not be her best friend anymore. Ever since Amir moved out of the slum and started going to a posh private school, it seems like he and Sarojini have nothing in common. Then Sarojini finds out about the Right to Education, a law that might help her get a free seat at Amir’s school – or, better yet, convince him to come back to a new and improved version of the government school they went to together. As she struggles to keep her best friend, Sarojini gets help from some unexpected characters, including Deepti, a feisty classmate who lives at a construction site; Vimala Madam, a human rights lawyer who might also be an evil genius; and Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, a long-dead freedom fighter who becomes Sarojini’s secret pen pal. Told through letters to Mrs. Naidu, this is the story of how Sarojini learns to fight – for her friendship, her family, and her future.

Why I Like This Book:

This book is a window into another world, another lifestyle, one filled with hardship, friendship, and community coming together to improve the education for the lower class students. I love the main character Sarojini, who shows that even a 12-year old, a girl full of heart and courage CAN make a difference.

The story is told in epistolary style. Sarojini is writing letters to a deceased Mrs. Sarojini Naidu as part of a school assignment. Mrs. Sarojini Naidu was an activist and freedom fighter during India’s struggle for independence from the British. As the story unfolds, we see the young Sarojini gain strength. She makes friends with the Deepti the new girl from the construction site, and together they are the heart of the Child Rights Club.  Their fight is to make their government school a better place for kids — by advocating for a playground, clean drinking water and more. But gathering support from the community and the local government is a challenge.

I enjoyed the realistic representation of the neighborhood Aunties and the headmaster of Sarojini’s school. While the Aunties initially dissuade the girls and remind them of the dangers of talking to the press, they eventually come to help the Child Rights Club. The headmaster we learn has lost faith in the government from a previously failed attempt, hence the reason he has become jaded.

While this book was published for the Indian audience, I do think there is an audience for this book in the United States. It’s not just for children of Indian ancestry but for any child that is interested in learning about other cultures and what life is like elsewhere. Adults may need to provide some background information on the following topics – fight for Indian independence, slums, government vs private schools in India, views on Hindu-Muslim relations. Short glossary of common words – roti (thin bread), dosa (South Indian rice paper roll), Amma (mother), Appa (father).

Read the Author’s Note to find out the extent of research the author undertook. Impressive.

I highly recommend this book for any middle-school collection.

Find Dear Mrs. Naidu at the following spots:
Kitaab World | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 9383074981
ISBN-13: 978-9383074983

July 28, 2016

South Asian Kidlit 2016

Hope you summer as been relaxing. My life seems to be a bit all over the place with writing conferences, kid camps, vacation … can’t believe summer is half over. Yesterday I did a guest post on South Asian kidlit for We Need Diverse Book’s Looking Back series. While researching for that post I felt a little sad and lost that there were no South Asian books that really made a difference in my formidable years. In fact only this past year when I watched the film MEET THE PATELS did I even realize what I was missing. What it’s like to see yourself, your experiences, your thoughts reflected in a mirror. It was wonderful. Now that we have a formidable South Asian population with people venturing into the arts, I think we’ll see an uptick in South Asian representation.

South Asian Kidlit 2016

Today I would like to shine a spotlight on some fantastic books by South Asian children’s writers that are being released in 2016. These books are traditionally published and are either by a South Asian author, contains a South Asian Main Character, or involves South Asian culture. The books are organized by Category and then Publication Date.

BU cover GroundwoodTitle: Book Uncle and Meuma

Author: Uma Krishnaswami
Illustrator: Julianna Swaney
Publisher: Groundwood Books
Publication Date: September 1, 2016
Category-Genre: Chapter Book

Synopsis: Nine-year-old Yasmin means to read a new book every day for the rest of her life. When her favorite lending library is threatened, she has to take her nose out of her book and do something! Explores themes of community activism and friendship in a city in contemporary India.

Bio: Uma Krishnaswami was born in India. She is the author of more
than 20 books for children. Uma teaches in the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, Vermont College of Fine Arts, and lives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
Web site: http://umakrishnaswami.org

seatTitle: Save Me a SeatGita pic 1

Author: Gita Varadarajan & Sarah Weeks
Publisher: Scholastic Press, New York
Publication Date: May 2016
Category- Genre: Middle Grade – Realistic Fiction

Synopsis: Joe has lived in the same town all his life and was doing just fine until his best friends moved away and left him on his own. Ravi’s family just moved to America from India, and he’s finding it pretty hard to figure out where he fits in. Joe and Ravi don’t think they have anything in common- but soon enough they have a common enemy (the biggest bully in their class) and a common mission: to take control of their lives over the course of a single crazy week.

Bio: Gita Varadarajan was born and raised in India and moved to the US five years ago. She has worked with children all over the world in India, the UAE, and now teaches second grade in Princeton NJ. She lives in West Windsor, New Jersey with her husband, Arun and two teenage sons. This is her first novel.
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/gita.varadarajan
Twitter:https://twitter.com/gitavarad1

Untitled-4Title: Mirror in the SkyAditiKhorana

Author: Aditi Khorana
Publisher: Penguin/Razorbill
Publication Date: June 21st, 2016
Category-Genre: YA – Contemporary/Speculative

Synopsis: An evocative debut, perfect for fans of The Leftovers and We All Looked Up, about the discovery of a mirror planet to Earth and how it dramatically changes the course of one Indian-American girl’s junior year.

Bio: Aditi Khorana has worked as a journalist, a researcher, and an entertainment research executive. She graduated from Brown University with a degree in International Relations and has an MA from the Annenberg School for Communications. She lives in Los Angeles California. Mirror in the Sky is her debut novel.
Website:www.aditikhorana.com
Twitter:@aditi_khorana
Instagram:aditi_khorana

Enter_Title_final_revealTitle: Enter Title Hererahul

Author: Rahul Kanakia
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2016
Category-Genre: YA – Contemporary

Synopsis: In order to score a book deal, an unscrupulous overachiever has to turn herself into a quirky, light-hearted YA novel protagonist. But after she’s caught plagiarizing an assignment, Reshma Kapoor will need to decide how far she’ll go to get a satisfying ending (Note: it’s pretty far).

Bio: Rahul Kanakia’s first book, a contemporary young adult novel called Enter Title Here out from Disney-Hyperion. Additionally, his stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Apex, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, The Indiana Review, and Nature. He holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins and a B.A. in Economics from Stanford. Originally from Washington, D.C., Rahul now lives in San Francisco.
Blog: http://www.blotter-paper.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rahkan

NewRaniCover_d02Title: Rani Patel in Full EffectIMG_1669

Author: Sonia Patel
Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
Publication Date: October 11, 2016
Category-Genre: YA FICTION

Synopsis: Almost seventeen, Rani Patel appears to be a kick-ass Indian girl breaking cultural norms as a hip-hop performer but in truth, she’s a nerdy flat-chested nobody who lives with her Gujarati immigrant parents on the remote Hawaiian island of Moloka’i. Her parents’ traditionally arranged marriage is a sham and her dad turns to her for all his needs—even the intimate ones. When Rani catches him two-timing with a woman barely older than herself, she feels like a widow and, like widows in India are often made to do, she shaves off her hair. This sets off a cascade of events and naive choices, including a relationship with an older man who leads her into an underground hip hop crew, that look like they will undo her but ultimately give her the chance to discover her strengths and restore the things she thought she’d lost, including her mother.

Bio: Sonia Patel is a child & adolescent psychiatrist. She was trained at Stanford University and the University of Hawaii. She lives and practices in Hawaii. Rani Patel In Full Effect is her first young adult novel.
Website: http://soniapatel.net/
Twitter: twitter.com/soniapatel808
Instagram: instagram.com/soniapatel808
Facebook: facebook.com/soniapatelauthor

timekeeperTitle: Timekeeper (Timekeeper #1)Author Photo_Tara Sim

Author: Tara Sim
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Category-Genre: YA Historical Fantasy-Steampunk

Synopsis: In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely. Clock mechanic Danny must figure out who’s bombing the towers around London or else risk losing the boy he loves forever. The stunning first novel in a new trilogy by debut author Tara Sim, Timekeeper is perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare and Victoria Schwab.

Bio: Tara Sim is the author of Timekeeper and can typically be found wandering the wilds of the Bay Area, California. When she’s not chasing cats or lurking in bookstores, she writes books about magic, clocks, and explosives.
Website: http://www.tarasim.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/EachStarAWorld
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TaraSimAuthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25760792-timekeeper?ac=1
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tssim53/
Tumblr: http://tarasimauthor.tumblr.com/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/tssim53/

September 21, 2015

Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco

barrioTitle: Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco
Author: Judith Robbins Rose
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2015
Pages: 352
Genre: Contemporary, Multicultural
Themes: Immigrant Experience, Mentorship
Ages: 10 and up

Synopsis (Amazon website):

“Miss, will you be my Amiga?”
Amiga means “friend” in Spanish, but at the youth center, it meant a lady to take you places.
I never asked myself if two people as different as Miss and me could ever really be amigas.

When Jacinta Juarez is paired with a rich, famous mentor, she is swept away from the diapers and dishes of her own daily life into a world of new experiences. But crossing la linea into Miss’s world is scary. Half of Jacinta aches for the comfort of Mamá and the familiar safety of the barrio, while the other half longs to embrace a future that offers more than cleaning stuff for white people. When her family is torn apart, Jacinta needs to bring the two halves of herself together to win back everything she’s lost. Can she channel the power she’s gained from her mentor and the strength she’s inherited from Mamá to save her shattered home life?

Why I Like This Book:

A richly detailed story giving readers a glimpse of life in the barrio. The plot centers around 12-yr old Jacinta who has one foot in barrio world and one foot in Miss’s (mentor) world which offers new experiences likes gymnastics, swimming pools and French classes. The reader sees Jacinta being torn between doing the things she wants to do with Miss and her responsibilities to the family. The author has done a wonderful job of showing the raw, honest truth about the views of the people and the trials they face. I did enjoy the misconceptions that Jacinta had about Miss, they did add to lighten the story. While their mentorship-mentee relationship was filled with ups and downs, it was a richer experience in the end.

Not just a multi-cultural book but one about socio-economic diversity as well. The book moves along at a good clip with obstacles and conflict around every corner, though at times it did seem a bit much. I enjoyed this book serving as a window into another cultural society however I would’ve liked a little bit more something to help me understand the decisions the parents made for their family. Why did they choose to live in America if it meant living in fear of the police and barely making ends meet? At times the existence of Jacinta’s family seemed so dismal and bleak, I just wanted to see the warmness of the familial bonds instead of what just appeared to be obligations. There is a very nice line near the end of the story which did give me some closure on this aspect.

It’s what families do. And it’s not because we have to. It’s because we choose to do.

The author does a nice job in tying up the story and giving the reader hope that Jacinta has gotten strong from having one foot in each world and is better because of it.

This book has sparked my curiosity about the immigrant experience. Here are some other titles in this genre:
Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
La Línea by Ann Jaramillo
Star in the Forest by Laura Resau
For additional books checkout the wonderful list at Pragmatic Mom website.

Find Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 0763672351
ISBN-13: 978-0763672355

Disclosure: I received my copy of this book from the publisher Candlewick Press. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

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