Comforting illustrations with wintry hues—deep blues, bright blues, grays and whites—and cozy scenes featuring animals, brightly clad children, and snow and wind and ice, grace the pages of this picture book in which the lush acrylic artwork amplifies keen observations about the season expressed in the sparkling narrative.
Melly feels her world rocked in more ways than one in this novel steeped in authentic middle-school turmoil. Immediately before leaving for Camp Rockaway with her best friend Olivia, Melly’s parents announce their impending divorce. Still trying to absorb this news, Melly is plunged into the camp routine.
When Nisha and her twin brother Amil turn twelve, Nisha receives a notebook from her family’s beloved cook, Kazi. She uses it as a diary, writing entries in the form of letters to her mother, who died when the twins were infants. Observant, sensitive Nisha is an excellent writer, but anxiety makes it difficult for her to speak. India has recently been freed from British rule, and when tensions among Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs erupt in her hometown of Mirpur Khas, Nisha fears for her family’s safety.
A girl enthusiastically describes her antics with her brothers, with riding the bike they built themselves her favorite of all they do. The bike is comprised of found objects: “handlebar branches that shicketty shake … tin can handles and wood-cut wheels…and a bell that used to be Mum’s milk pot.” That it is handmade out of economic necessity, sometimes requiring repairs relying on more ingenuity, is something that readers and listeners can infer, but it has no relation to the siblings’ pleasure and delight, which is absolute.
Lou starts senior year feeling protective of her little brother Hughie, an incoming freshman, but Hughie fits right in among theater kids. Lou joins the school paper, and soon is crushing on a fellow journalist, Lebanese American Joey. Burned by her last boyfriend’s unexpected racism, she is hesitant to tell Joey that she is Muscogee Creek, even after it’s clear he likes her, too.
Little Star’s Mama takes the Big Mooncake out of the oven and lays it onto the night sky to cool. “Can you remember not to touch this Big Mooncake until I tell you to?” Little Star says yes, and she does remember until the middle of that night. Then all she can think about is that Big Mooncake.
n early 17th-century Rome, Artemisia Gentileschi, 17, has surpassed her father’s skill as a painter but gets no credit for her work because she is a woman. Artemisia’s late mother told her about the Biblical figures of Susanna and Judith, wanting Artemisia to understand the struggles of the two women—the things they suffered simply for being women—as well as their courage and bravery, none of which Artemisia sees reflected in the work of men who’ve painted them.
Ollie, 11, stays up late one night reading a book called Small Spaces. Published in 1895, it tells of a woman whose husband made a deal with the devil to bring his brother back to life. The next day, Ollie’s class takes a field trip to a local sustainable farm. The farm’s history has elements that match the story—long-ago disappearances and rumors of ghosts—while the owner turns out to be the woman Ollie got the book from under strange circumstances, although the woman shows no signs of recognizing Ollie.
Nine-year-old Mia Tang’s immigrant Chinese parents manage the Calivista Motel in Anaheim. Because the job comes with a room to live in, and because her family has been homeless on and off since coming to the United States, Mia’s parents won’t complain to Mr. Yao, the owner, about his unfair labor practices. Outgoing Mia likes helping out at the front desk.
On the sidewalk outside a city shop is a cheery display of bright orange pumpkins. As Halloween approaches, the pumpkins are chosen one by one and taken away, only to appear in windows of apartments across the street with triangle eyes and friendly, toothy grins. The pumpkins left behind long to become jack-o-lanterns like their friends. But one pumpkin knows he’s different.