Diversity in MG Lit #37 June 2022

Here’s a round up of new and diverse books on sale this June. It is by no means a complete list of every diverse book published this month. Please add your own favorites into the comments below.
book cover Days of InfamyLet’s start with non fiction. What I like about Days of Infamy: How a centurey of bigotry led to Japanese American internment by Lawrence Goldstone is that it takes a larger slice of history, giving context and detail to story of discrimination against the Asian American community. In addition to historical photographs, maps, and documents throughout, the book contains an index, bibliography and detailed sources notes. Bravo, Scholastic and Lawrence Goldstone for including the extras to refute doubters and give curious readers more information.
Horse Country: Friends Like These by Yamile Saide Méndez is the second in a new series. I highlighted the first in March and I’m happy to see that a sequel is just as charming and has followed so closely. A third in the series, Where There’s Smoke, will be out in the fall. As a bookseller trying to get MG readers hooked on a new series it really helps to have the first books roll out quickly.
The Beautiful Country by Jane Kuo is a debut novel in verse about author’s childhood. Her family immigrates from Taiwan in the 1980s and opens a small restaurant. The story is beautifully told. I found my self really rooting for this family. There was nothing extraordinary about their struggles, but they faced them with grace and courage that will resonate with anyone who has ever tried to make a go of a new business.
book cover Onyeka and the Academy of the sunOnyeka and the Academy of the Sun by Tolá Okogwu is a celebration of black hair–vibrant, curly, and big! The twelve year old hero is a mythical being from Nigerian folk lore, a Solari. Her powers emanate from her magnificent black hair, and she must used them to be a force for good in her new superhero school The Academy of the Sun. Great fun for fans of the Marvel franchise.
book cover Punky AlohaPunky Aloha By Shar Tuiasoa is a vibrantly illustrated chapter book about gathering your courage and going out in the big world. Set in Hawaii, Punky takes her grandmothers sunglasses and the spirit of Aloha on her very first solo errand to a neighborhood shop. If you are charmed by the Netflix show Old Enough, you’ll love Punky Aloha.
All Four Quarters of the Moon by Chinese-Australian writer Shirley Marris a novel about love and resilience interwoven with Chinese mythology, a world made entirely of paper, and an ever changing moon. Fans of When You Trap a Tigerwill appreciate its powerful and compassionate voice.
book cover Undercover LatinaKids at the older end of the MG span will appreciate the smart, entertaining, and politically astute debut MG novel of Aya De León. It’s called Undercover Latina, and it’s about a Latina who goes undercover as a white girl to infiltrate a white nationalist group and bring them to justice. This one has a bit of a bite to it, but young social justice warriors are going to love Andréa Hernández-Baldoquín and her undercover persona Andrea Burke.
Everyone knows that middle school is the great training ground for extortionists. In Destiny Howell’s book High Score the hero Darius James, the new kid at the neighborhood middle school, is trying to figure out how to help his friend Connor who owes the biggest bully on the block. 100,000 arcade tickets. Fortunately DJ, knows all about running scams. This fast paced and engaging story will make a perfect summer vacation read.
Do you have a favorite diverse summer read? Give it a shout in the comments below.

Diversity in MG Lit #36 May 2022

Here’s the roundup of some of the many diverse MG books on sale in May. Diverse titles have increased dramatically. I will be concentrating more attention on debut authors, beginnings of new series, and underrepresented elements within diverse books. As always if I’ve missed a May title, please drop a mention in the comments on this page.
cover Because of you John LewisI love a MG appropriate picture book like Because of You, John Lewis: the true story of a remarkable friendship by Andera Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Keith Henry Brown. John Lewis was a lifelong champion of justice. Unlike his companion Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who was struck down in his prime, John Lewis went from the Civil Rights movement of his youth to a very long life of service and witness. Pinkney has chosen to highlight the friendship between King and Lewis in light of a connection Lewis made late in his life with a young activist Tybre Faw. Emphasizing the role of mentorship is a powerful choice for readers at an age to seek mentors. Back matter includes historic photographs, a timeline, additional resources, and the text of the poem “Invictus” which Tybre Faw read at Lewis’s funeral.
book cover The Wonders We SeekIslam is a much larger and more diverse faith than is often represented on the page. The collected biography– The Wonders We Seek: Thirty Incredible Muslims who helped shape the world by Saadi Faruqi & Aneesa Mumtaz, illustrated Saffa Khan –is a collection of well known Muslims who may be less known in mainstream America. The book contains a good mix of scientists, activists, artists, athletes and even a spy! It offers a useful perspective on world events. They are arranged chronologically from the scientist Al-Ma’mun of Baghdad born in the 700s to education advocate Malala Yusufzai who was born in 1997 in Pakistan.
book cover HummingbirdDepictions of disability are the least common representation in diverse books for kids. I was delighted to find
Hummingbird by Natalie Lloyd. It’s about Olive Martin, a wheelchair using middle schooler, who has brittle bone disease. This makes her highly vulnerable to fractures and limits her physical growth. Her emotional and social growth knows no such bounds as Olive navigates public school for the first time. The author Natalie Lloyd has brittle bone disease herself and based the story on some of her own experiences.
Future Hero: race to fire mountain by Remi Blackwood is the first in a series of chapter books featuring an African American boy who finds a portal to a fantastical world in his cousin’s barbershop. Regular illustrations and an inviting layout make it a good choice for readers of the Ranger In Time series and fans of the Black Panther.
Book cover Lia ParkAnd finally Jenna Yoon has a debut MG novel, Lia Park & the Missing Jewel. This twist on the child-goes-to-wizard-school story is about a girl who just wants to go to normal school and attend normal parties like any other 12 year old. But in sneaking out to the party of the year, Lia is kidnapped by evil forces. Now she has to dust off her under-appreciated wizard skills to find the jewel of power. A journey which takes her to Korea and to an undersea dragon kingdom. Delicious!
Going on sale this month are graphic novels
Swim Team: small waves big changes by Johnnie Christmas and Lowriders to the Rescue by Cathy Camper illustrated by Raúl the Third
New MG novels include
Must Love Pets: friends fur-ever by Saadia Faruqi
Shine On Luz Véliz by Rebecca Balcarcel
Last Gate of the Emperor by Kwame Mbalia & Prince JoelMakonnen
Moonflower by Kacen Callender
Small Town Pride by Phil Stamper
The Secret Battle of Evan Pao by Wendy Wan-Long Shang

Diversity in MG Lit #35 April 2022

Here’s the roundup of some of the many diverse MG books on sale in April.  As always if I’ve missed an April title please drop a mention in the comments on this page.
The Not-so-uniform Life of Holly Mei is the debut MG novel of Christina Matula. It’s refreshing to see a character whose biracial identity (Taiwanese-Canadian) is not the focus of conflict in the novel. Another nice twist is the immigration story is not to North America but from there to Hong Kong. Kids will find plenty to root for as Holly Mei finds her way in a new city and school. This is the first of a planned three book series.
In Shabbat Sabotage by Emma Carlson Berne, Maya’s first time at sleep-away camp is enlivened by the mystery of who stole the kiddush cup and candlesticks they need to celebrate Shabbat.
Horse Country: Can’t be Tamed by Yamile Saied Méndez is a new series centered around a western horse ranch and the power of second chances. Great to see a horse series that does not feature wealthy East coast mean girls, but rather centers on the Hispanic contributions to the American west and the healing power of horses.
book cover Karthik DeliversKarthic Delivers by Sheela Chari has elements to delight a wide range of readers. Karthic trys to help his parents hold things together financially by delivering Indian groceries around his Boston neighborhood on his bike. He loves theater, admires fellow immigrant Leonard Bernstein, and is navigating a first crush with the aid of his earnest, even aspirational, to-do lists.
My Sister’s Big Fat Indian Wedding by Sajni Patel is a YA rom-com that should have plenty of appeal for older MG readers. What I liked the most about this story of finding love amid the busy events of a traditional Indian wedding was the many cousins who are on Zurika’s side every step of the way.
Graphic Novels
In the full color graphic novel Miss Quinces by Kat Fajardo, Sue/ Suyapa was hoping for a summer with her American friends at an art camp but her mother brings her to Honduras instead to be with family and have her Quinceñero ceremony. Sue is mortified but comes to appreciate them in the end. I appreciated the way the story embraced the spiritual elements of a the ceremony, rather than focusing entirely on the more glamorous party afterward. There is back matter with more information on the meaning of the Quinceñero traditions.
Messy Roots: a graphic memoir of a Wuhanese-American by Laura Gao is a YA graphic novel that may appeal to the older end of the MG spectrum. It’s a memoir about growing up as an immigrant queer Chinese-American in Texas. It’s rare to find a book that illuminates the experience of being both an immigrant and an LGBT community member. I’m hoping it will do well enough to usher in more intersectional stories.
Fantasy & SciFi & Historical
The Last Mapmaker by master storyteller Christina Soontornvat is going to appeal to fans of popular dragon series like Wings of Fire but also to kids who like maritime adventure stories in the mold of the Horatio Hornblower books.
Memorably set on a family estate in the Himalayas, Tamarind and the Star of Ishta by Jasbinder Bilan is a tale of  culture shock overcome and family secrets unraveled.
Young chapter books
Wednesday & Woof: Catastrophe by Sherri Winston is a new chapter book series featuring a spunky black main character with juvenile arthritis and her service dog  Woof. Together they solve the mystery of a neighbor’s missing cat. Short chapters, large type and plenty of color illustrations make this an inviting first series for a new reader.