Jasmine Toguchi is eight and she is SICK of having her big sister, Sophie, get to do everything first. As her family gathers together in Los Angeles to celebrate the Lunar New Year, Jasmine comes up with a plan: she’ll be the first girl in her family to pound the mochi rice into the powder that makes delicious mochi balls. Usually it’s the men and boys who do it, so Jasmine has a lot of persuading to do- also, she has to get very strong, very fast. For those who like a delicious funny treat of a story, Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen, is a sweet surprise. Readalikes: Clementine, Piper Reed, Ramona Quimby. –E.S.
Mysteries abound in this quiet, tense thriller about an island girl whose identity is a dangerous secret.
Crow washed up on her Atlantic island as a baby, in a boat with only a few scraps to give clues about who her parents were and where she came from. Her near-silent guardian, Osh, says to let mysteries lie; their friend Miss Maggie knows more than she is telling. When Crow, now 12, sees a light on a nearby island and begins to investigate, she unearths the secrets of a haunted, hidden place: the abandoned sanitarium of Penikese Island, a place where people with Hansen’s disease (once called leprosy) used to be sent to die. Could Crow have come from there? Is there anyone left? And what other secrets may have been buried with the patients on Penikese? Read-alikes: Under the Egg, Ink and Ashes, The Other Side of the Island. -E.S.
A realistic story about recovering from social disaster, being true to your family, and finding your inner diva.
Mango Delight Fuller has survived many challenges: her food-based name, the birth of her baby brother, and her parents’ refusal to get her a cell phone until she turns thirteen. But when she beats her best friend Brooklyn in track practice, Brooklyn dumps Mango and joins the Cell Belles, a gossipy clique of bullies who taunt Mango into getting herself suspended from the track team and then trick her into trying out for the school musical. Surprise- she gets the lead, and her strict mom won’t let her back out, even though Mango has never sung in front of an audience before. Worse, Brooklyn’s dad owns the restaurant where Mango’s dad is a chef, and might fire him because of their daughters’ fight. Mango must find a way to make up for her mistake and make a new place for herself at the school. Read-alikes: Ruby Reinvented; Fly, Blackbird; Stef Soto, Taco Queen. Published 2017. –E.S
A heartwarming and charming debut novel about family, friends, and finding your voice all wrapped up in a warm tortilla.
This is a story of family, brotherhood, and a hero’s journey amid city streets and an uncertain future.
Troy is a kid with a passion. And dreams. And wanting to do the right thing. But after taking a wrong turn, he’s forced to endure something that’s worse than any juvenile detention he can imagine-he’s “sentenced” to the local city stables where he’s made to take care of horses. The greatest punishment has been trying to make sense of things since his mom died but, through his work with the horses, he discovers a sport totally unknown to him-polo.
Troy has to figure out which friends have his back, which kids to cut loose, and whether he and Alisha have a true connection. Laced with humor and beating with heartache, this novel will grip readers, pull them in quickly, and take them on an unforgettable ride.
Set in present day Christine Kendall’s stunning debut lets us come face-to-face with the challenges of a loving family that turn hardships into triumphs.
From acclaimed author Elana K. Arnold and with illustrations by Charles Santoso, A Boy Called Bat is the first book in a funny, heartfelt, and irresistible young middle grade series starring an unforgettable young boy on the autism spectrum.
For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises–some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter.
But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.
“A book for anyone mending from childhood wounds.”–Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street
In this unforgettable multicultural coming-of-age narrative–based on the author’s childhood in the 1960s–a young Cuban-Jewish immigrant girl is adjusting to her new life in New York City when her American dream is suddenly derailed. Ruthie’s plight will intrigue readers, and her powerful story of strength and resilience, full of color, light, and poignancy, will stay with them for a long time.
Ruthie Mizrahi and her family recently emigrated from Castro’s Cuba to New York City. Just when she’s finally beginning to gain confidence in her mastery of English–and enjoying her reign as her neighborhood’s hopscotch queen–a horrific car accident leaves her in a body cast and confined her to her bed for a long recovery. As Ruthie’s world shrinks because of her inability to move, her powers of observation and her heart grow larger and she comes to understand how fragile life is, how vulnerable we all are as human beings, and how friends, neighbors, and the power of the arts can sweeten even the worst of times.