Eat, Leo! Eat!

Leo wants no part of sitting down with his family to eat Nonna’s big, delizioso lunch every Sunday. “I’m not hungry,” he insists. Not hungry? Hmm. Clever Nonna gets an idea. She’ll use a story to lure Leo to her table. And since the pasta in her soup, called stelline (little stars), is woven into the story about a boy who journeys to his grandmother’s at night, it works. But again on the following Sunday, Leo doesn’t want to eat. So Nonna expands her story, this time adding some chiancaredde (paving stones), the name of the pasta she’s serving that day, to create a path for her character to follow. Now Leo’s hooked.

So Much For Democracy

Twelve-year-old Astrid has come to Ghana with her family in 1979 so that her father can help oversee Ghana’s first democratic election. Astrid and her brother, Gordo, were told it would be a great family adventure, but they soon find out that everything about Ghana is difficult—the heat, the food, the threat of disease, the soldiers on the roads, the schools. Gordo fits in more easily than Astrid, who is often left to look after her baby sister, Piper, as their mother begins to fall apart under the strain of living in Ghana. When the government is overthrown, Gordo comes down with malaria and a soldier threatens her family.

The Green Man

Teenaged O – never call her Ophelia – is about to spend the summer with her aunt Emily. Emily is a poet and the owner of an antiquarian book store, The Green Man. A proud, independent woman, Emily’s been made frail by a heart attack. O will be a help to her. Just how crucial that help will be unfolds as O first tackles Emily’s badly neglected home, then the chaotic shop. But soon she discovers that there are mysteries and long-buried dark forces that she cannot sweep away, though they threaten to awaken once more. At once an exploration of poetry, a story of family relationships, and an intriguing mystery, The Green Man is Michael Bedard at his finest.

Wishes and Worries

Children of parents who drink too much alcohol are affected in many ways. They may experience anger, fear, confusion, and guilt. This reassuring book, written by professionals, offers information in the form of a story about one family’s struggle. When Dad’s drinking ruins a birthday party, everyone wishes that he would just stop. If only wishing could fix the problem!

Shanghai Girls: A Novel

In 1937, Shanghai is the Paris of Asia, a city of great wealth and glamour, the home of millionaires and beggars, gangsters and gamblers, patriots and revolutionaries, artists and warlords. Thanks to the financial security and material comforts provided by their father’s prosperous rickshaw business, twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives. Though both sisters wave off authority and tradition, they couldn’t be more different: Pearl is a Dragon sign, strong and stubborn, while May is a true Sheep, adorable and placid. Both are beautiful, modern, and carefree . . . until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth and that in order to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from California to find Chinese brides. As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the Chinese countryside, in and out of the clutch of brutal soldiers, and across the Pacific to the shores of America. In Los Angeles they begin a fresh chapter, trying to find love with the strangers they have married, brushing against the seduction of Hollywood, and striving to embrace American life even as they fight against discrimination, brave Communist witch hunts, and find themselves hemmed in by Chinatown’s old ways and rules. At its heart, Shanghai Girls is a story of sisters: Pearl and May are inseparable best friends who share hopes, dreams, and a deep connection, but like sisters everywhere they also harbor petty jealousies and rivalries. They love each other, but each knows exactly where to drive the knife to hurt the other the most. Along the way they face terrible sacrifices, make impossible choices, and confront a devastating, life-changing secret, but through it all the two heroines of this novel hold fast to who they are–Shanghai girls.

A Gift from Childhood: Memories of an African Boyhood

Baba Wagué is only four years old when he is sent to the tiny Malian village of Kassaro to be raised by his paternal grandparents, according to the family tradition. He is most unhappy about this at first, but under his grandmother’s patient and wise tutelage he comes to love his close-knit village community. He learns how to catch a catfish with his bare hands, flees from an army of bees, and mistakes a hungry albino cobra snake for a pink inner tube. Finally, Grandma Sabou decides that Baba is educated enough to go to school, and he moves back to the city, where his family struggles to provide him with a formal education. But he brings his village stories with him, and in the process of sharing them with his neighborhood uncovers his immense artistic and storytelling talents.

The Crazy Man

This novel in verse tells the story of a 11-year-old girl struggling to recover after a farm accident leaves her crippled and fatherless.

After Emaline, 11, is crippled by a farm accident with her father’s tractor, Daddy kills her beloved dog, Prince, and walks away from the farm. Mom takes in Angus from the local mental hospital to help with the farm work, but the neighbors complain about the crazy man on the loose. Emaline never denies Angus’ illness, but she sees his kindness and strength, and they help each other with their work and with their grief.