Running through Sprinklers

Sara, 12, has been best friends with Nadine since they were in diapers. Both are biracial, Sara Korean/white, Nadine Japanese/white, and have grown up on a cul de sac in Surrey, BC, moving in and out of each other’s houses and families and traditions with ease. Sometimes it seems to Sara they’re a single person, and she likes that feeling.

The Field

A game of futbol on the island of Saint Lucia isn’t going to be stopped by anything. Not cows on the field (“Shoo!”) or the arrival of rain (“Dash. Splash. Slip-slide. Belly flop!”) or the calls of mamas that it’s time to come home as the sun begins to set (“Vini, abwezan! Come now!”). Only when the game is finally over do the children disperse, racing off to their homes in the dusk. “We dream about futbol. We dream about friends. Until the field calls again.”

The Place Between Breaths

Grace is a high school senior with a coveted intern position at the genetics lab where her dad recruits scientific researchers. Grace’s schizophrenic mother left them when she was a small child, a loss that echoes continuously. But Grace finds her dad’s obsession with the lab’s work trying to isolate a gene for schizophrenia frustrating. It’s not like isolating a gene will lead automatically to a cure, and it’s not like her mom will benefit regardless—they have no idea what happened to her.

Give Me Some Truth

In 1980, Carson Mastick and his best friend, Lewis Blake, are high school seniors living on the Tuscarora Reservation in upstate New York. Maggi Bokoni, 15, has just moved back to the reservation with her older sister, Marie. Former honor student Lewis paid a heavy price at school for standing up to a white bully years before. His future uncertain, he works cleaning buses for the school district.

Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten

As a child in rural North Carolina in the early 20th century, Libba Cotten “heard music everywhere.” She borrowed her brother’s guitar when he wasn’t home and played it upside-down and backwards, because she was left-handed. “Nobody else played that way, but it was the way that felt right to Libba.” Libba composed the song “Freight Train” around age 11, inspired by the sounds of trains on nearby railroad tracks. “But even trains get derailed.”

Julián Is a Mermaid

Riding the train on their way home from the swimming pool, Julián and his abuela see women clad in elegant, mint-green dresses trailing tail fins: mermaids. Wide-eyed Julián drifts into a fantasy: submerged in water, his hair lengthens as he sheds his tank top and shorts before being swept up in a stream of sea creatures.

The Book of Pearl

A young prince, Ilian, in love with a fairy, is banished to another world–our world, in late 1930s France. A Jewish couple, the Pearls, take in the homeless young man who appears outside their Paris shop. He becomes like a son to them. When French officials don’t believe the Pearl’s late son is dead, the exiled prince takes the place of Joshua Pearl and joins the French army.

Puddin’

Summer may be months away, but Millie Michalchuk is planning ahead: This year she’s applying for broadcast journalism camp. Millie is fat, and she’s comfortable with it—unlike her mother, who persistently fills the fridge with diet foods and can’t believe Millie doesn’t want to spend another summer at Daisy Ranch Weight Loss Camp; or classmate Callie Reyes, who treats Millie with contempt.

On the Other Side of the Garden

On her first night at her grandmother’s house in the country, Isabel is lonely and uncertain. She doesn’t know her grandmother and she doesn’t know how long her father will be gone. Then an owl, a frog and a mouse appear at the window lead her out into the moonlit yard. The owl is a gentle caretaker, the frog forthright and full of questions, the mouse shy and hoping for a snack. They tell her about her grandmother, who is kind, and perhaps a little lonely, too.