As a kid I was horrified to learn about Nazi Germany and the holocaust. How could people think like that?! My naive self thought antisemitism would disappear. And, of course, so would Nazis. Unfortunately not. Here are two books to help middle grade and young adult readers with these topics. Both are told in multiple points of view.
Linked (Scholastic Press, 2021) by Gordon Korman deals with what happens when a student paints a swastika on the school walls. Meet Michael, Lincoln, and Dana all struggling with the aftermath in their quiet town. Who did it and why? (mg novel)
The Assignment (Ember, 2020) by Liza Wiemer starts out with the good intentions of a teacher wanting his students to understand how horrific the genocide of the Jews was, but his approach is wrong and two students–best friends Logan and Cade–take on the battle to get the assignment canceled. (YA novel)
Both stories have surprising twists and are thought provoking.
Gordon Korman is a many-times-published author. On his website this time, I learned his first book was published when he was fourteen!
The Assignment is Liza Wiermer’s second novel and has won numerous honors. Check it out here. Read about Lisa here.
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
Beginner’s Welcome (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2020) by Cindy Baldwin is such a beautifully written and touching book.
It’s the first day of 6th grade and Annie Lee wakes to the sound of her mother crying in the bathroom. It’s been eighty-three days since her father died, but it’s as if he’s not quite gone–whiskers in the sink, smell of his aftershave, one of his favorite records playing… Not only did Annie lose her father, she feels like she’s lost her mother, who has to work all the time. And her two best friends have drifted away, too. She’s never felt so alone in her whole life. Annie decides being invisible and not getting close to anyone is a good way not to be hurt again.
I agree with what New York Times Bestselling Author of Tuesdays at the Castle, Jessica Day George says: “As delicate and powerful as a sonata, Annie Lee’s story of music, magic, loss, and love should not be missed!”
Check out the author’s playlist for the book here on her blog. You’ll also learn about her own musical background. And read her bio here.
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
The Bridge Home (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2019) by Padma Venkatraman was marvelous. Such a touching story that made my heart ache for the characters.
11-year-old Viji and her sister Rukka run away from an abusive home to the big city of Chennai. There they find shelter on an abandoned bridge and make a new family with two boys. Still, life is not easy. Viji hates being a ragpicker in the city rubbish heaps, but the children can sell what they find to the waste mart man, which lets them buy food and other necessities. And then . . .
You’ll have to read it to see what happens next.
Go here for bonus material for the book. And here to learn more about Padma.
Inkling (Alfred A. Knopf, 2018) by Kenneth Oppel is a book I’m not quite sure how to describe. We’ve got a nonhuman, but likable main character, who is an inkblot. Seriously! He’s discovered by a boy named Ethan, who names him Inkling. Ethan’s sister Sarah who has Down’s Syndrome meets Inkling too although she calls him Lucy. We’ve got lots of drawing, both good and bad. We’ve got problems, kid-sized and adult. It’s funny. It’s sad. It’s touching.There’s a bad guy. But with some help Ethan and Inkling win in the end. And so do some other people.
This is a fun and satisfying story. Looking at it several weeks after I finished it, I find it hard not to pick the book up and read it again.
Kenneth Oppel is an award winning author. You can read about him here. See his awards here and check out his books here.
The illustrations (inside and out) are done by Sydney Smith. You can see a bunch of the illustrator’s covers here.
I’ve been a fan of Kate Messner‘s since I read The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z, Her newest novel The Seventh Wish (Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 2016) doesn’t disappoint as it explores the old phrase of “be careful what you wish for.”
Charlie Brennan is originally on the ice fishing to earn money for a fancy Irish dancing dress, but when she pulls up a magical talking fish, she starts wishing for a lot of different things. The wishes don’t work out as Charlie had hoped. Then her life gets seriously messed up when her college age sister has a crisis that cancels her trip to the feis (dance competition.)
Readers will sympathize with twelve-year-old Charlie and enjoy meeting her friends and discovering their problems. Flour babies, anyone? I now know a lot more about ice fishing and Irish dance than I ever have before–love those bonuses when reading a story.
Sadly, this book experienced some censorship earlier this year. It blows my mind that it did. Here’s an interview with Kate on the topic.
A fun place to visit on Kate Messner’s website is her photo gallery. There you can see places where she did research, items she tasted or touched for research, and more.