These multicultural nonfiction titles, reviewed in Booklist be- tween February 1, 2015, and January 2016 take readers on a
trip through history and around the world to experience diversity.
Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings. By Margarita
Engle. Illus. by Edel Rodriguez. 2015. Atheneum, $17.99
(97814811435222). Gr. 5–8.
Reflecting on her childhood in Los Angeles and her Cuban heritage, Engle’s memoir in
verse is nothing less than enchanting, capturing a range of emotions and observations
salient to young people.
Freedom in Congo Square. By Carole Boston Weatherford. Illus. by R. Gregory Christie.
2016. little bee, $17.99 (9781499801033.). Gr. 1–3.
This artistic and poetic homage to the birthplace of jazz also celebrates a group whose
legacy is too often ignored: the slaves of New Orleans. Blocks of color stamped with texture bring to life both the landscape and the movement.
Funny Bones: Posada and Day of the Dead Calaveras. By Duncan Tonatiuh. Illus. by the
author. 2015. Abrams, $18.95 (9781419716478). Gr. 3–5.
This fascinating picture-book biography profiles Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada,
who drew the droll skeletons prominent in Day of the Dead celebrations. Playful, informative—a perfect introduction to the artist.
Jump Back, Paul: The Life and Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar. By Sally Derby. Illus. by
Sean Qualls. 2015. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763660703). Gr. 5–7.
This sprightly biography evokes Dunbar’s poems while humanizing the man who wrote
them. The story has the loud ring of truth, nicely enhanced by expressionist drawings.
My Seneca Village. By Marilyn Nelson. 2015. Namelos, $21.95 (9781608981960). Gr. 6–9.
Nelson brings Seneca Village—before it became New York’s Central Park—to vivid life
with masterful poems fueled by true-life events, laws, movements, and tragedies.
Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip through the Motown Sound. By Andrea Davis Pinkney. illus.
2015. Roaring Brook, $19.99 (9781596439733). Gr. 5–8.
Readers join the voice of “the Groove” on a trip capturing the excitement of Hitsville,
U.S.A., and introduces an all-star cast, from Berry Gordy to the Jackson Five.
Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of His People. By S. D. Nelson. Illus. by the
author. 2015. Abrams, $19.95 (9781419707315). Gr. 4–7.
Told in a powerful yet subdued first-person narrative, this enthralling biography recounts
the life of the great chief and the defeat of his fellow Sioux, allowing readers to comprehend the events within a broad historical context.
Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Voting Rights March.
By Lynda Blackmon Lowery and others. Illus. by PJ Loughran. 2015. Dial, $19.99
(9780803741232). Gr. 7–12.
This personal account of participation by young people in the civil rights movement,
including the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday, makes for riveting, inspiring, and unusually accessible reading.
Watch Out for Flying Kids!: How Two Circuses, Two Countries, and Nine Kids Confront
Conflict and Build Community. By Cynthia Levinson. illus. 2015. Peachtree, $22.95
(9781451458219). Gr. 5–8.
Social circuses are a safe, positive environment for kids of different backgrounds to
come together. This book looks at youth circuses in the U.S. and Israel and tells the story
of how a shared passion can change lives.
Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees. By Franck Prevot. Illus. by
Aurelia Fronty. 2015. Charlesbridge, $17.99 (9781580896269). Gr. 3–5.
Maathai, a Kenyan political activist known for her environmental work, is brought to
vivid life in this inspiring book that highlights the personal and political forces that caused
Maathai to form the Green Belt Movement.
TOP 10 MULTICULTURAL
NONFICTION FOR YOUTH
learn more about poetic forms, and can make
for interesting exercises for classroom teachers.
A worthwhile book for all libraries, this will appeal to readers looking to spend quality time
with kids like themselves. —Karen Cruze
The Midnight War of Mateo Martinez.
By Robin Yardi.
Mar. 2016. 184p. Carolrhoda, $17.99 (9781467783064).
What stinks worse than having his parents
suspect him of hiding his little sister’s tricycle is
knowing they will never believe the truth: a pair
of skunks stole it in the night. Mateo Martinez
knows what he saw, and he is determined to
prove it. After a disastrous attempt to ambush
the varmints ends with Mateo getting sprayed
in the face, he learns something else incredible: the skunks can talk. He enlists the help
of his friend Ashwin and begrudgingly lets kid
sister Mila join the quest to retrieve the trike.
What ensues is an imaginative backyard adventure with light touches of fantasy. The first few
chapters leading up to the nighttime escapades
are slowed by repetitive writing, but those
who persevere will find much to like. Mateo
is an admirable character striving to live by a
knight’s code of honor, while struggling with a
lost friendship and school bullies. His gallantry,
developing relationship with Mila, and antics
with the neighborhood wildlife make for quite
the charming tale. —Julia Smith
Mission Mumbai: A Novel of Sacred
Cows, Snakes, and Stolen Toilets.
By Mahtab Narsimhan.
Apr. 2016. 272p. Scholastic, $16.99 (9780545746519);
e-book, $16.99 (9780545746526). Gr. 4–7.
Dylan jumps at the chance to spend three
weeks in India with his best friend, Rohit.
He can attend an Indian wedding, indulge
his passion for food and photography, and
escape his fighting parents. He hopes to take
an award-winning photo and prove to his dad
that photography is not a frivolous hobby.
India enchants Dylan, but the boys’ perfect
Sam-and-Frodo friendship unravels in the
oppressive heat. Rohit is sensitive about the financial gap between their families, while Dylan
envies Rohit’s relationship with his mother.
When an overbearing, wealthy aunt threatens
financial blackmail to keep Rohit in India, tensions explode. The author excels at capturing
life in India, but the boys’ relationship never
fully resonates. Humor generated by cultural
differences carries the book until the end, when
the plot accelerates dramatically. Readers may
forgive the overabundance of fantasy references and the clunky friendship in exchange for
dramatic escapes, a monsoon, and Bollywood-level wedding drama. —Suzanne Harold
Momotaro: Xander and the Lost Island of
By Margaret Dilloway. Illus. by Choong
Apr. 2016. 320p. Disney/Hyperion, $16.99
(9781484724873); e-book (9781484746318). Gr. 4–7.
Xander Musashi Miyamoto is a half-Asian