WHEN YOU REACH ME -- a lovely, clever, and mesmerizing tale that captures the interior monologue of kids who are starting to recognize the complexities of friendship, family, class, and identity
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (2009, Wendy Lamb Books; 210 pages)
Sixth-grader Miranda lives in 1978 New York City with her mother, and her life compass is Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. When she receives a series of enigmatic notes that claim to want to save her life, she comes to believe that they are from someone who knows the future. If that’s the case, then Miranda has an even bigger problem—because the notes tell her that someone is going to die, and she might be too late to stop it.
Though labeled as a J book, Rebecca Stead deploys some intensely thought-provoking ideas in this Newberry Medal-winning book. It is a book that begs to be read more than once, as the story contains many complex and fascinating elements.
Find this title in our catalog: When You Reach Me
Recommended by: Ariadne
ONE GOOD THING ABOUT AMERICA -- a sweet, often funny novel that explores differences and common ground across cultures
One Good Thing About America by Ruth Freeman (2017, Holiday House; 160 pages)
This books starts on September 14 with a letter to Oma.
We go to my new school today. It is VERY BIG. Mama and me and Jean-Claude we walk from the motel and find school. Mama write and write many papers for the school. A man come. He speak English and French and help us. I tell Jean-Claude to stay calm but he is bad boy. A lady bring the crahons and I tell Jean-Claude to play with them.
Many many children are in the school. 400 say the man. Yes 400. Vraiment. Really. It is like the city. And my school at home in Congo is like one little house. I tell the man I get lost. He say I do not. I get lost. I know it.”
Anais was the best English student in her class back home in Congo, Africa. But once she migrates to what she calls "Crazy America," she feels she doesn't know English at all. In fact, if she tries to make sense of the language, nothing seems to work (how can you eat chicken fingers, after all?). Anais misses her family back in Africa, those who had to stay behind: her Papa, her grandma Oma, and her big brother Olivier. She lives now in a new country with her Mama and her little brother Jean-Claude. To try to fool sadness and nostalgia, she decides to write daily letters to Oma. The book is a book of letters in which she explores her feelings and her daily experiences trying to adjust to the life in Crazy America. She tells Oma that she misses her, that she worries about Papa and big brother because of the war in Congo. She also tells her about all the strange things people do in her new country, and she decides that one good thing about America is of course, ice cream!
This is a tender, touching and great middle-grade novel that explores in a beautiful way the differences and common ground across cultures and countries. Anais' voice is simply adorable, and the book is filled with funny touches that help to bring together the kaleidoscopic world we live in.
Recommended to readers who enjoy down to earth voices and learning about how people think and live in different parts of the world. Recommended also for those who wish to understand the challenges faced by young immigrants in America.
Find this title in our catalog: One Good Thing About America
Recommended by: Maite