These titles take readers around the world and into their own back- yards. Circumstances may differ, but the characters’ hopes and
struggles are universal. These books have been reviewed in Booklist
between February 1, 2015, and January 2016. —Ilene Cooper
Bayou Magic. By Jewel Parker Rhodes. 2015. Little, Brown, $17
(9780316224840). Gr. 4–7.
Ten-year-old Maddy is spending the summer with her grandmother on the bayou in Bon Temps, Louisiana, where she learns family history and some
serious life lessons. A tale of often diverse and always fascinating characters.
Black Dove, White Raven. By Elizabeth Wein. 2015. Disney/Hyperion, $17.99
(9781423183105). Gr. 8–11.
Set in 1930s Ethiopia, the story of black Teo and white Em, as close as siblings, is a
tangled history that confronts myriad complex questions. What constitutes home: family
and faith or country and heritage?
Diego’s Crossing. By Robert Hough. 2015. Annick, $21.95 (9781554517572).
Diego is a smart high-school senior from a dusty town on the Mexican side of the U.S.
border. This grim and unflinching story shows the nearly impossible choices that make life
there so tough.
Full Cicada Moon. By Marilyn Hilton. 2015. Dial, $17.99 (9780525438756). Gr. 4–7.
In 1969 Vermont, Mimi, who is half black and half Japanese, wishes to be an astronaut,
and this makes her stand out. This wonderful novel in verse speaks to questions of heritage, ambition, and history.
The Land of Forgotten Girls. By Erin Entrada Kelly. 2016. Greenwillow, $16.99
(9780062238641). Gr. 5–7.
Two sisters from the Philippines live with a dreadful stepmother in a small Louisiana
town. But with the help of all kinds of neighbors, Soledad figures out ways to make her
Mango, Abuela, and Me. By Meg Medina. Illus. by Angela Dominguez. 2015.
Candlewick, $15.99 (9780763669003). Gr. 1–3.
Young Mia decides to teach her grandmother English—and in return, she learns
Spanish—in this poignant tale of intergenerational connection, transition, and patience.
The Merit Birds. By Kelley Powell. 2015. Dundurn, $14.99 (9781459729315).
Angry 18-year-old Cameron must accompany his mother to Laos. At first things go well,
but a motorbike accident lands him in a Laotian jail. Fresh and gripping, and filled with
both action and romance.
Miracle on 133rd Street. By Sonia Manzano. Illus. by Marjorie Priceman. 2015.
Atheneum, $17.99 (9780689878879). PreS–Gr. 2.
In this delightfully illustrated story, there are issues with José’s Christmas, but a multicultural mix of neighbors help make the holiday special. The let’s-all-pull-together narrative
makes readers think that it is, indeed, a wonderful life.
Shadowshaper. By Daniel José Older. 2015. Scholastic/Arthur L. Levine, $17.99
(9780545591614). Gr. 8–11.
In this powerful fantasy, “shadowshaping” becomes a resonant metaphor for the importance of cultural heritage, as Puerto Rican Sierra and Haitian Robbie draw upon and
amplify their ancestors’ spirits.
X. By Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon. 2015. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763669676).
Malcolm’s X’s third daughter pairs with Magoon to offer a fictionalized biography of the
famous activist. It’s a satisfyingly complete, never simplistic story of one young man’s
journey toward a life of purpose and meaning.
TOP 10 MULTICULTURAL
FICTION FOR YOUTH
sixth-grader whose major interest is playing
and coding computer games. When strange
things begin to happen, his obachan (
grandmother) reveals that Xander comes from a long
line of Momotaro warriors and only he can rid
the world of oni (demons). Reluctantly, Xander
sets sail on a magical ship with his dog and best
friend, and they are taken to unknown worlds
and meet the final person for their crew—
Jinx, the monkey girl. Entrusted with two
ancient figurines for his quest, Xander heeds
Obachan’s counsel to find strength in faith and
imagination, each helping him to uncover the
power to succeed within himself. With phan-tasmagorical environments, flying white rats, a
fire-breathing bird, a giant, a snow demon, and
other creepy things, there is abundant action.
This retelling of a Japanese folktale celebrates
courage, friendship, and pride of heritage,
while featuring unforgettable characters and
leaving readers eager for the next installment in
this new series. —Jeanne Fredriksen
The Night Parade.
By Kathryn Tanquary.
2016. 320p. Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky, $16.99
(9781492623243). Gr. 5–8.
Saki Yamamoto is a Tokyo girl through and
through, and the last thing she wants is to be
dragged to her grandmother’s tiny mountain
village for the summer—partly because it
sounds boring, and partly because she dreads
the fallout of being separated from her mean-girl friends. But when Saki defaces one of her
family’s ancestral shrines, she brings a death
curse down upon her family, and life is about
to be anything but boring. Over the next
three nights, Saki is visited by Japanese spirits
who guide her through their world as she tries
to undo the curse—or pay the ultimate price.
Saki, initially a spoiled, self-involved girl who
must learn a valuable lesson, is a quintessential
fable heroine, and the use of Japanese myths
and history provides a rich background.
Though there are several missed opportunities, either for whimsy or for creepiness, this
has significant shades of Hayao Miyazaki’s
Spirited Away, and it will appeal especially to
readers with an interest in adventure stories
and Japanese folklore. —Maggie Reagan
What Elephants Know.
By Eric Dinerstein.
May 2016. 288p. Disney/Hyperion, $16.99
(9781484728543); e-book (9781484748701). Gr. 4–8.
Through the eyes of 12-year-old Nandu, a
hero worthy of The Jungle Book’s Mowgli, naturalist Dinerstein brings to life his knowledge of
the Nepalese jungle. Abandoned as a toddler in
the jungle, Nandu is taken in by the one-armed
head of an elephant stable and raised under the
watchful eye of Devi Kali, a female elephant.
Nandu, who loves the jungle and its inhabitants, wants to be a mahout, or elephant trainer,
but with the king’s government threatening to
close the stable, his entire future is in jeopardy.
A bull elephant would elevate them to a breed-
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