Living In-between

Dina Nayeri has written extraordinary books for adults about the experiences of refugees, and her new nonfiction picture book for children, The Waiting Place, is equally haunting and beautiful. Nayeri went to the Katsikas refugee camp, along with photographer Anna Bosch Miralpeix, to interview and document the experiences of children living there. The cover of the book is a perfect representation of what one finds between the pages. We see a little girl halfway through a cartwheel, playing and having fun like the covers of so many children’s books. What makes this cartwheel different is that it is being performed over a grate in the middle of a gravel road, behind barbed wire, and surrounded by shipping-crates transformed into housing. Children in “the waiting place” are still children, but they exist in a world that is frozen, somewhere between home and whatever comes next.

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A Home for Everyone

While reading Sanctuary: Kip Tiernan and Rosie’s Place, the Nation’s First Shelter for Women, I kept thinking, “How can this be the first time I am learning about this?” This picture book, written by Christine McDonnell and illustrated by Victoria Tentler-Krylov, is a remarkable story of persistence and love for humanity. It is also a reminder of how much work this country still has to do to make sure that there is a home for everyone.

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Feeling Seen in the Books We Read

Finally Seen is Kelly Yang’s newest work for middle grade readers and will be on-sale starting on February 28. One of my favorite authors, Yang has once again developed a character and story that will resonate with readers young and old. Finally Seen is a timely work, dealing with issues of bilingualism, immigration, book bans, and belonging. Most of all, though, it is the timeless quality of connection that stands out in this excellent new novel for young readers.

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The Shortest School-to-Prison Pipeline

At one point in Promise Boys, written by Nick Brooks, a character describes attending his school as being just like going to jail. Unfortunately, I think there are a lot of students in our schools who feel similarly. Particularly our Black male students who seem to so frequently be targets of overzealous disciplinary actions. I think we need to ask ourselves, is this truly what we want our schools to be?

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A Love Story for Everyone

There is a part of me that wants to call 6 Times We Almost Kissed (And One Time We Did) the best young adult, slow-burn romance I have ever read. But I don’t think “slow-burn” truly represents the love story depicted in this novel by Tess Sharpe. The love between Penny and Tate, who both share their sides of the story in the book, is already aflame when the book begins. They just haven’t realized it yet.

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Family Bonds

Books by Kelly Yang (author of Front Desk) always bring me joy. She tackles important and challenging issues, such as immigration and xenophobia, but reading her work never feels like a heavy lift. The warmth her characters share is simply too strong to ever be overpowered by ignorance. In her newest book for young readers, New From Here, Yang continues to dazzle us with the power of family bonds and the endless imagination of children.

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Living Out Loud

I knew Maulik Pancholy was an actor and I remembered that he served on an advisory committee in the Obama administration, but I had no idea that he was a children’s book author as well. Netgalley and HarperCollins Children’s Books gave me the opportunity to read and review an advanced reader copy of Nikhil Out Loud, and I am so grateful that they did. This book will be released on October 11 and I can’t wait for middle grade readers to engage with the characters in this delightful book.

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When You Can’t See the Wolves

I read an article in The New York Times this morning that referenced another youth sports organization that has been embroiled in sexual abuse scandals involving both coaches and players. While I was already planning to write about The Wolves are Waiting this week, the Times story made this book seem even more important to highlight. Natasha Friend has authored a book that perfectly captures the sense of invincibility that seems to be communicated to athletes–often male athletes– and those around them when they are beloved by their communities.

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Queer History Lives Everywhere

One of the many important insights that readers can gain from reading Alex Gino’s Alice Austen Lived Here, is that LGBTQIAP+ people (acronym used in the text) are not new, even if they are able to live more openly in the present day. There have always been people with different gender identities and sexual orientations and it is about time that we start talking about their histories, too. In Alice Austen Lived Here, we are introduced to a talented and artistic individual who, for too long, was pushed into the closet by society.

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Who Should be Fighting this Fight?

Milagros “Millie” Vargas never wanted to be the center of attention. As an immigrant to Texas, she doesn’t want people to know the path her family took to become citizens. In Where I Belong by Marcia Argueta Mickelson, Millie deals with the consequences, both positive and negative, of being an advocate. That doesn’t mean she is happy about it.

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