The village of La Paz is noisy. “Dogs bayed, mothers crooned, engines hummed, fountains warbled, and everybody sang in the shower.” In fact it’s so noisy the mayor is fired and an election is held to choose a new one. “Only Don Pepe promised peace and quiet. He won by a landslide.” First Don Pepe bans loud singing, then he bans singing altogether.
When Hina and her mother take in a kitten they find outside their front door, Hina is initially a little reluctant—it’s not as clean and cute as a pet shop kitten. In a short time, however, she is caught up in thinking about names. “Maybe Bluey for its eyes. Or Twiggy because it was so skinny…Just thinking about the kitten made her happy.” While her mother is out buying cat food and her grandmother is napping, Hina realizes she can’t find the kitten.
In 2065, Adri moves in with her newly discovered cousin, Lily, while she trains for her future life as a settler on Mars. Loner Adri worries living with elderly, open-hearted Lily will be hard, but Lily is respectful of Adri’s privacy and Galapagos, a giant tortoise on Lily’s Kansas farm, is a peaceful companion.
Malú and her mom have moved from Florida to Chicago for her mom’s 2-year visiting professorship. Mixed-race (Mexican/white) Malú, whose parents are amicably divorced, is unhappy about leaving her dad, who nurtured her interest in punk. She also feels like her mom, whom she calls SuperMexican, wants her to be a perfect señorita, which couldn’t be further from Malú’s understanding of herself (or, it turns out, the truth).
Two neighboring houses. A moving truck. A fence and a tree. A girl and a boy. As the story opens, she’s peeking out the window of one house, he’s sitting in the yard of the other. She watches as he pulls down some fence boards. Some of these become steps up the tree. The girl, now outside, watches him, peering over the fence, then from behind a bush. Finally she picks up the hammer he dropped and follows him up the tree.
Marnie Wells has taught herself tasseomancy, divination with tea leaves. Now, months after the disappearance of a girl named Andrea, Andrea’s best friend, Matt, seeks Marnie out. Matt’s been receiving cryptic emails from someone claiming to be Andrea and doesn’t know whether to believe it’s her. Marnie finds herself drawn to Matt and colliding with the wider circle of friends Andrea was part of, all of them wealthy kids at the upscale high school that Marnie attends only because her grandmother teaches there.
The return of Anna Hibiscus is cause to rejoice with these four new paperbacks for newly independent readers or reading aloud. In Welcome Home, Anna Hibiscus!, Anna has returned from visiting Granny Canada, her maternal grandmother. Her new experiences make her feel uncertain—does her family think she’s changed too much? But the aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents with whom she lives along with her parents and younger brothers in “amazing Africa” soon reassure her with their welcome and warmth, while a newly hatched chick bonded to Anna leads to amusing antics.
Rodney likes moving, not sitting in a desk at school; he likes the freedom of outside, not the constraints of inside. But Rodney isn’t excited about an upcoming field trip to the park—he knows the little, triangle-shaped space with yellow grass in his city neighborhood. “It had one large cardboard trash can and two benches where some grownups sat all day long.” The day of the trip, however, the bus rumbles right by that park, out of the city, past farm fields, and through a mountain tunnel. At the other end, it emerges into bright sunshine and a park unlike any Rodney has known.
“Blame my Uncle Kenneth. Everybody else does.” (Tim Tingle) “It’s a lot of pressure to pick a good elf name.” (Tim Federle) “Nani wears a fur coat to the beach.” (Soman Chainani) Whether starting with irresistible opening lines like these, or easing more quietly into the lives of their characters, the ten short stories in this anthology are wonderfully crafted slices of life.
“A dog came to live with us when I was four.” An engaging picture book in the voice of a girl whose family adopts a dog from the shelter works as a terrific informational narrative, too. The little girl’s dog, named Sophie, “was nervous around my father at first, so he was careful not to look into her eyes or pet her or get too close.”