Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Mighty Inside

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

I loved Mighty Inside (Levine Querido, 2021) by Sundee T. Frazier. With discussions on segregation, relocation camps, Korean War, Jewish culture, and more, this book gives a great picture of life in the mid-50s is a very realistic way. It shows how determination, music, and friendship can change a kid’s life. If you like underdog stories, you won’t want to miss this book.

I also love the author’s writing itself. Here are a few favorite phrases: “the ball had been a side dish to a dinner-sized dose of humiliation” and “his tongue was so tenderized it was practically filet mignon.” These touches of humor help us through difficult topics.

Melvin Robinson is getting ready to go to high school–that can be scary for anyone. But with his stutter he just knows he’s going to be “dead meat.” His life is even more complicated by being black in a mostly white school in Spokane, WA. When his brother comes to his defense against some bullies, it’s not the white kids who have to clean up the resulting mess but the “Negroes.” For Melvin learning to communicate becomes more and more important–there’s the girl he likes, the bully he needs to stand up to, the terrible death of Emmett Till, and a chance to talk through music. Can Melvin show he deserves respect?

Anyone who has ever had difficulty speaking up will especially enjoy this historical novel. As my book recommendation did last month, it obviously deals with racism. So sad we are still seeing people experiencing this in real life. The book is inspired by Sundee’s grandparents’ experiences in the 1950s in Spokane. Read more about the award-winning author on her website here. Check out her other books here.

Bonus–this is a book with a 13-year-old protagonist. (I love seeing more with this age. For a while, it felt like there was hardly any books for the 13 and 14 age ranges.)

Posted in Award Winners, MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Sweetgrass Basket

sweet-grassbasket.jpgYou thought you had it tough?

Try early 1900s when you are forced to leave your father and go to the Carlisle Indian Industrial School where people look down on you!
In Sweetgrass Basket (Dutton, 2005) by Marlene Carvell, Mohawk sisters, Mattie and Sarah, are sent away after the death of their mother. This novel is told in verse and from both girls’ viewpoints. It’s hard for them to have to think in English and to give up their culture, but it’s harder knowing they can’t see their father.
Thanks to Readergirlz for introducing me to this historical novel!
Marlene Carvell was inspired to write this story based on her husband’s great-aunt’s experience. Read more about the author at Readergirlz and on the Strong Nations site.