Rose, Judith Robbins. Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco
September 8th 2015 by Candlewick
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Jacinta meets newswoman Kate Dawson Dahl at her community center. Jacinta is working on a picture frame for a Mother's Day gift, and Kate is reporting on teen pregnancy. When Kate accidentally ruins Jacinta's project, she feels bad about it, and Jacinta is quick to jump on this and ask if Kate (or "Miss", as she calls her) will be her Amiga, a sort of Big Sister mentor. Kate, a struggling single mother of two boys Jacinta's age, doesn't want to get involved, but is soon taking Jacinta to the local rec center to swim, and signing her up for gymnastics and French programs. Jacinta's home life is not good-- her mother has gone back to Mexico to care for her dying mother, and the family doesn't know when she will be back. Jacinta and her older sister, Rosa, must care for their baby sister Suelita with the help of their Tia. Tia has her own problems-- the father of her three children is a drunk, and is soon deported. While Jacinta is plotting to visit Kate's house, befriend her boys, and see if Miss will buy her things, she also has to deal with her father being deported and the family being evicted from their apartment. Fora while, Jacinta is angry with Kate because she asks the girls to live with her, and Jacinta is jealous of Rosa, but when Jacinta's mother calls from New Mexico, where she has made it over the border with a coyote who has stolen her money, Jacinta calls Kate for help once again.
Strengths: It's good to see a book that addresses the not-so-subtle change between being in one neighborhood and another in a fairly small town, and the differences between trying to scratch out an existence as an illegal immigrant or as a single mother. Like Gaby, Lost and Found, this portrays a family in an impossible situation, and there are no easy answers. The cover art reminds me very strongly of stories about Hispanic Americans in the reading textbooks we had in the 1970s, somehow.
Weaknesses: Jacinta is not nice at all. Yes, her situation is difficult, but she mistreats everyone around her, including her sister, whom she hits in the face and scars! Kate ends up losing her job and having a lot of horrible things happen to her because she mentored Jacinta. Not sure what message this is meant to send!
What I really think: I will probably buy this. Students like detestable characters more than I do, and I have a large number of Hispanic students and not enough books that reflect the variety of experiences in the US. I have one girl especially who is always asking for more books, and she will be glad to get this.
Langston-George, Rebecca. For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai's Story
September 1st 2015 by Capstone Press
E ARC from Netgalley.com
This short book gives a complete overview of the struggles faced by Malala and her family faced in Pakistan after the takeover of the Taliban. Her father was an educator, and she was very invested in getting a good education. Since she and her father were both outspoken and unwilling to give in to the Taliban's demands, Malala was shot and the family now resides in England. The youngest person to recieve the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala continues her work, and should be a person with whom all students should be familiar.
At 42 pages, this book is an excellent introduction to an intriguing person in the news. It would be a good nonfiction book to pair with a class favorite, Deborah Ellis' The Breadwinner. The illustrations will draw students in, but do not detract from the seriousness of the topic.
This book makes me want to check out the other titles in the Capstone Encounter series.