Diversity in MG Lit # 39 September 2022

So many great new books out this month. I’m going to highlight a few of them. As always if I’ve missed something, please mention in the comments.

Chapter Books

book cover Anisa's International DayAnisa’s International Day by Reem Faruqi
A new chapter book about a Pakistani-American girl’s attempts to find the “just right” treat to bring to her school international day. It gently tackles the ways which even a schools attempts to be inclusive can be difficult for kids to navigate. It includes a glossary, recipes, activities and an author note. (HarperCollins)
Ways to Share Joy by Renée Watson
This is the third in a series of books about Ryan Hart and her family. I admit I’m partial to this series because ,like myself, it is set in Portland Oregon. The books are deceptive in their simplicity, but timeless in their loving chronicle of a contemporary black family’s life.  (Bloomsbury)

MG Novels

book cover Case of the Rigged RaceThe Case of the Rigged Race by Michael Hutchinson
Here’s a modern take on the Boxcar Children mysteries (or the Bobsey Twins mysteries if you are very old.) Set in Canada, this is the fourth in a series about four Cree cousins from Windy Lake who solve crimes. This time it’s a mysterious accident involving a prized sled dog and some animal rights protestors on the eve of a big race. Plenty of action and adventure with a side of Cree culture and history. The author is Swampy Cree from the Treaty 5 area and a member of the Misipawistik Cree Nation. (Second Story Press)
Pippa Park: Crush at First Sight by Erin Yun is the second book in a series about a Korean American girl navigating the usual trials and tribulations of a fancy prep school, including the sports that she’s good at and the math that’s a struggle. She tries to pitch in with her family’s laundromat while still keeping up with her new friends. Back matter includes discussion questions and a glossary of Korean words. (Fabled Films Press)
book cover black bird blue roadBlack Bird Blue Road by Sofiya Pasternack
Fans of historical fantasy will appreciate this mix of mythology and Jewish traditions in a story about twins, Ziva and Pesah, who face down the Angel of Death in search of a cure for the brother’s leprosy. (Versify)
The Lightcasters by Janelle McCurdy is also about siblings facing down evil in a fantastical universe. Mia and Lucas grew up in a city of darkness cast by the Reaper King. With the usual protectors of the community gone 12 year old Mia must summon her own magic to overcome the dark. This is Janelle McCurdy’s debut. (Aladdin)book cover lightcasters
Shot Clock by Caron Butler and Justin A Reynolds
Here’s a story about Tony, who loves basketball and dreams of national championships. He is especially keen to carry on the legacy of his best friend who was killed by a policeman. Unfortunately his position this year is team statistician. Tony, learns there is more than one way to make your mark, and with his whole community, he navigates the particular grief of racial violence . This is the first title in a new series. (HarperCollins)
You Only Live Once David Bravo by Mark Oshiro
Middle school is hard enough, but then you summon a shapeshifting dog who travels you back in time. What could go wrong? Nearly everything goes hilariously wrong in this delightful identity/family/ life-choices story with the little nod to Groundhog Day. (Harper)

Novels in Verse

Abuela, Don’t Forget Me by Rex Ogle.
This book is meant to be a companion to Rex Ogles Free Lunch. It is for the more mature end of the MG spectrum and tells the story of a grandmother who transformed Rex’s life. (Norton Young Readers)
book cover rain risingRain Rising by Courtne Comrie
This lyrical and thoughtful novel covers a lot of ground from body image to color-ism to middle school friendships. It includes the impact of hate crimes. Though there is not perfect resolution there is much grace and hope in the ending.  This is Courtne Comrie’s debut book. (HarperCollins)


Victory. Stand! Rising my fist for justice  by Tommie Smith, Derrick Barnes, Dawud Anyabwile
One of the iconic images of the civil rights movement is the 1968 Olympics track and field podium where two Black American athletes raised their fists while the national anthem played. This graphic novel fills in the events that brought athletes Tommie Smith and Derrick Barnes to that momentous decision and the consequences that followed from it. The athletes Dr. Tommie Smith and Derrick Barnes wrote the book and it was transformed into graphic novel format by the brilliant artist Dawud Anyabwile. I’m very happy to see this title on the long list for the National Book Award (Norton)book cover Victory Stand
What the Fact‽ finding the truth in all the noise by Dr. Seema Yasmin is written for teens but a strong MG reader will find plenty of interest. It tackles in depth the vital question of how we know something is true with chapters on bias, social media, disinformation, noise, and how to debunk and disagree effectively. This would be a great resource for families who watch the news together. (Simon&Schuster)
If You Can Dream It You Can Do It: how 25 inspiring individuals found their dream jobs. by  Colleen Nelson & Kathie MacIsaac illustrated by  Scot Ritchie
If you have a career day at your school here’s a great resource for helping kids learn about a variety of careers from smoke jumper to neuroscientist. Each career gets a double page spread with a brief bio of the professional, and notes on related careers, tips for entering a profession and things a kid can try know to learn more about the job. The subjects are young and diverse in race and gender. The book is Canadian so a few slight national differences will come up for American readers. (Pajama Press)

Short Stories

And finally. Just in time for Halloween. Our Shadows Have Claws: 15 Lain American monster stories edited by Yamile Saled Méndez and Amparo Ortiz
This short story collection is marketed for Young Adults so I’m only recommending it for the oldest end of the MG age span, and only for kids who really dig a spooky tale. A great way to introduce readers to many new authors who also have full length books. (Workman)

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