Wednesday, September 07, 2016

#WNDB Wednesday- A Long Pitch Home

28186140Lorenzi, Natalie Dias. A Long Pitch Home
September 6th 2016 by Charlesbridge
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Bilal's family must leave Pakistan suddenly after his father is arrested. His mother and two younger siblings are able to leave, but his father must wait for a visa. They move to Virginia, to stay with an aunt and uncle who have a teen boy, Jalaal. Since Bilal's main interest in Pakistan was playing cricket (and he was very good), his uncle signs him up right away for a baseball camp. Missing his father and finding that the English spoken by his teammate is very different from the English he learned in school, Bilal struggles to fit in. Another new kid on his baseball team, Jordan, also struggles. Since her father is deployed in Afghanistan and she would rather be back home in the midwest, she tries to make friends with Bilal, but the boys on the baseball team don't want a girl on their team, and make fun of Bilal when he hangs around her. School is difficult, and Bilal has to spend some time in an ESL unit, while his younger sister takes to the language much more quickly. Skype visits with his father are nice, but Bilal gets tired of waiting. When Pakistani cricket star and government hopeful Omar Khan comes to the US, Bilal jeopardizes his team's tournament success to get the man's attention, which is influential in getting his father back home. 
Strengths: This had a lot of good details about what it is like to move to a different country. Skyping with his father, having to learn a new game, missing friends and life in his first country (and that's a helpful phrase to know) all are things that children in the US who were born here need to know about. I liked the inclusion of the cousin who was well-versed in the ways of the US, as well as the younger sister who settled in so much more easily. Using sports as a way to introduce this topic to readers is a great idea. 
Weaknesses: I wish there had been more details about why his father was having trouble in Pakistan, and about cricket. 
What I really think: I know that many people balk at the idea of people from other cultures writing from the perspective of a character from another culture. However, until we see more great writers like Gita Varadarajan, it's very helpful for my students to have diverse books written by writers who try to get the details correct and check them with people from the culture about which they are writing. I think Carol Marsden does a particularly good job, as does Lorenzi. I will be buying this. 

Interestingly, I am able to access Barnes and Noble and Amazon at school until 6:00 a.m. I guess this means I should not work on book orders during the day! (Not that I usually have time, but occasionally I want to look up the next book in a series for a child. Luckily, Goodreads is not yet blocked!)

28218955Hashimi, Nadia. One Half from the East
September 6th 2016 by HarperCollins

I reviewed this one for School Library Journal.

28954126Reynolds, Jason. Ghost
August 30th 2016 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books 

Also reviewed this one for School Library Journal. (Scroll down.)

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