At the front of a middle school classroom in Oklahoma, a boy named Khosrou (whom everyone calls “Daniel”) stands, trying to tell a story. His story. But no one believes a word he says. To them he is a dark-skinned, hairy-armed boy with a big butt whose lunch smells funny; who makes things up and talks about poop too much. But Khosrou’s stories, stretching back years, and decades, and centuries, are beautiful, and terrifying, from the moment his family fled Iran in the middle of the night with the secret police moments behind them, back to the sad, cement refugee camps of Italy.and further back to the fields near the river Aras, where rain-soaked flowers bled red like the yolk of sunset burst over everything, and further back still to the Jasmine-scented city of Isfahan. We bounce between a school bus of kids armed with paper clip missiles and spitballs to the heroines and heroes of Khosrou’s family’s past, who ate pastries that made people weep and cry “Akh, Tamar ” and touched carpets woven with precious gems. Like Scheherazade in a hostile classroom, Daniel weaves a tale to save his own life: to stake his claim to the truth. And it is (a true story). It is Daniel’s.
Six months after Paola Santiago confronted the legendary La Llorona, life is nothing like she’d expected it to be. She is barely speaking to her best friends, Dante and Emma, and what’s worse, her mom has a totally annoying boyfriend. Even with her chupacabra puppy, Bruto, around, Pao can’t escape the feeling that she’s all alone in the world.
Pao has no one to tell that she’s having nightmares again, this time set in a terrifying forest. Even more troubling? At their center is her estranged father, an enigma of a man she barely remembers. And when Dante’s abuela falls mysteriously ill, it seems that the dad Pao never knew just might be the key to healing the eccentric old woman.
Eleven-year-old Ada De Jesús was on the cusp of her teens when she moved to the United States from Puerto Rico. Hurricane Hugo had just decimated the island and her father couldn’t find a job. In Chicago, the white dress she arrived in didn’t protect her from the snow and frigid temperatures! Constantly exposed to new things, she developed a resilience that served her well. “From one place to another, like riding a bike, if you keep pedaling, you won’t fall.” Ada discovered that students in the United States were frequently disrespectful to their teachers. At school she often felt like a two-year-old as she grappled with a completely new language. In addition to navigating a different culture, she had to deal with all the issues familiar to teenage girls: the growth of body hair, pimples, menstruation and burgeoning feelings for the opposite sex. Her memories of first intimate encounters, fending off unwanted advances and fear of pregnancy will strike a chord with readers. In these short vignettes recollecting her middle-school years, Ada De Jesús shares her poignant and often funny experiences as a newcomer and an adolescent. Young readers will relate to—and laugh at—her experiences; some may take heart that they too will overcome the difficulties common at this age.
Fifth grader Luna Ramos has a great many cousins, mostly on her father’s side, but one of them, Claudia, is a source of constant annoyance; their current feud begins when Luna is punished for locking Claudia in the restroom at another cousin’s quinceanera but when there’s a bullying situation at school, Luna realizes that, despite their disagreements, cousins have to stand up for each other.
It is 1970 in Red Grove, Alabama, and at Lu Olivera’s school the white kids and black kids sit on different sides of the classroom. Six-grader Lu just wants to get along with everyone, but growing racial tensions will not let Lu stay neutral about the racial divide in school. Her old friends have been changing lately–acting boy crazy and making snide remarks about Lu’s newfound talent for running track. Lu’s secret hope for a new friend is fellow runner Belinda Gresham, but blacks and whites don’t mix. Will Lu find the gumption to stand up for what’s right? And find friends who will stand with her?
In the fifth novel of the Mickey Rangel Mystery series, author and educator René Saldaña, Jr. crafts another entertaining book for intermediate readers about a subject every school kid has experienced: mean classmates who knock others down to feel better about themselves.
Twelve-year-old María Luisa O’Neill-Morales (who really prefers to be called Malú) reluctantly moves with her Mexican-American mother to Chicago and starts seventh grade with a bang–violating the dress code with her punk rock aesthetic and spurning the middle school’s most popular girl in favor of starting a band with a group of like-minded weirdos.
Seventh-grader Alex Schrader’s life changes when he meets Bijou Doucet, a Haitian girl recently relocated to Brooklyn, and while he is determined to win her heart Alex also learns about dating rules and Haitian culture.
Thirteen-year-old Travis has a secret: he can’t read. But a shrewd teacher and a sassy girl are about to change everything in this witty and deeply moving novel. Travis is missing his old home in the country, and he’s missing his old hound, Rosco. Now there’s just the cramped place he shares with his well-meaning but alcoholic grandpa, a new school, and the dreaded routine of passing when he’s called on to read out loud. But that’s before Travis meets Mr. McQueen, who doesn’t take “pass” for an answer—a rare teacher whose savvy persistence has Travis slowly unlocking a book on the natural world. And it’s before Travis is noticed by Velveeta, a girl whose wry banter and colorful scarves belie some hard secrets of her own. With sympathy, humor, and disarming honesty, Pat Schmatz brings to life a cast of utterly believable characters—and captures the moments of trust and connection that make all the difference.