Stone takes the great white savior myth and twists it up in a family complicated by race, the ugly realities of the Jim Crow laws of the 60s, family stories untold, and the loves so deep and powerful they'll make you cry through your smile. Mind you, this is also a hilarious book. William "Scoob" Lamar is on lockdown at home by a dad who refuses to hear his side of why he hit that kid at school, so when his G'ma invites him to join her in her brand new mobile home, he's all in, even leaving his phone at home so he doesn't have to hear his dad yell. But when G'ma pulls out her "treasure box" and the Traveler's Green Book, Scoob realizes this trip may be more than he bargained for. Brilliant weaving of historical realities into a funny, heartbreaking coming of age. Welcome to middle-grade, Nic!
If you ever wondered why we need people to tell their own stories, read Stand Up,Yumi Chung! Can immigrant parents be just a little overly focused on grades and getting their kids into the right schools? Eleven-year-old Yumi definitely thinks so, but woven into that stereotypical tiger mom story is the gentlest tale of parental love and complete devotion. Yumi wants to be a stand-up comedian, but her parents work hard to keep their Korean barbecue going so that they can give her and her sister the opportunities they came here to find. The path to prosperity and happiness, however, isn't always what we first envision. Beautiful, funny and uplifting, this is a must read.
In some ways, Omar is like most kids who have just moved – worried about making friends at his new school, wondering about his new teachers, and trying to keep his vivid imagination in check. In other ways, Omar’s family is different: his mom wears a hijab, they celebrate Ramadan, pray five times a day, ask Allah for help when they need guidance, and deal with fear and racism because of their differences. Planet Omar is a combination of laugh-out-loud humor and a tribute to how kindness and knowing each other can help us overcome hate.
Lily can turn invisible, or at least that's how she sees the impression she makes upon her surroundings. Only her Halmoni, her grandmother, actually sees her; through her grandmother's stories of brave sisters, powerful tigers, and magic, Lily finds alternatives to invisibility. In this beautifully woven tale of a child wrestling with who she is sits a tiger, real or imagined, a grandmother who is magical and sick, and a family that has been both broken and made stronger by tragedy. Lily comes to understand that she doesn't have to choose between being fierce and kind, strong and soft – she can be everything. Powerful, beautiful story for all of us!
If story is the ground in which we plant the seeds of our stronger, prouder selves, more comfortable in our skins no matter what shade, what gender or non-conforming gender, then give Caldwell's collection to every teen you know and watch the blooms. The power of self-worth in the face of centuries of marginalization is magic, and these characters, some on alien planets, some deemed alien in their own lands, gather that magic and explode it onto these landscapes. Brilliant!