Cross, Gillian. Where I Belong.Khadija is lucky that her family has sent her from Somalia to London, even if she doesn't feel that way. She is living with Abdi's family, since his father has died and they need money. When she is seen by the famous designer, Sandy Dexter, and her daughter Freya, Khadija is given the opportunity to make money by modeling, money that she can use to bring her real family from Somalia. While Sandy is keeping Khadija's existence (and use in her Somalia-inspired collection) secret, someone finds out, kidnaps Kadija's brother from the refugee camp where he lives, and holds him for $10,000 in ransom.
When Sandy decides to have the show for her new collection IN Somalia, things become even more dire. Will the kidnappers be satisfied with getting the money, or do they want more from Sandy... and Khadija.
Strengths: The complicated immigrant experience is beautifully explained; even though Somalia is war-torn and impoverished, Khadija misses it and wants to go home. Also well described is the immigrant community in London. Unfortunately, there are not many (any?) books describing similar communities in Ohio or Minnesota. I really need those books.Weaknesses: There are a lot of characters in this, and since chapters alternate narrators, it gets complicated.
I think I like the British cover (below the American one) better.
Stephens, John. The Emerald Atlas.
From time to time, there is a book that is everywhere on the blogosphere, and everyone adores it... except me. Sometimes I understand, like Gary Schmidt's Okay for Now. That's a great book for adults, but I can't see my students reading it. Then there is something like The Emerald Atlas, the the students will probably like, but I can't get through for the life of me.
I mention these books because they deserve to be mentioned. They are books that lots of people like, so librarians will want to look into getting them for their libraries and students will want to read them. I link to good reviews. But if there are other people out there who don't like the books... at least they don't feel alone!
From the Publisher: "Kate, Michael, and Emma have passed from one orphanage to another in the ten years since their parents disappeared to protect them, but now they learn that they have special powers--and a fearsome enemy--and embark on a prophesied quest to find a magical book. "
Just some of the people who thought it was really, really awesome:
The Book People Kids Blog
The Overflowing Library
Stalking the Bookshelves