One of America’s greatest blessings is its diversity. Our friends and neighbors have faces of many shades and eyes of different shapes, but our gifts combine and give birth to “A Glorious Mosaic.” We are a land of immigrants; our roots may be far-flung, but we join hands as “ . . . one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Page On!
By Juan Felipe Herrera
As a boy, Juan Felipe Herrera had no idea his humble background as the son of migrant workers would lead him to become a poet laureate of the United States. He tells his lovely story in “Imagine,” a poetic read with gloriously simple, joyous illustrations by Lauren Castillo.
Readers meet Juan as a boy, the child inhaling the beauty of nature, “ . . . (he) picked chamomile flowers . . . in the windy fields and whispered to their fuzzy faces . . . let tadpoles swim across (his) hands in the wavy creek . . . ”
The little boy moves to a new locale and school where he doesn’t know the language. Gradually English comes to him as he captures words like tadpoles in the creek where he played long ago, fitting them into his sentences and phrases.
Each step on his journey to success as a poet is illustrated in muted shades and accompanied by the word “Imagine,” allowing readers to identify with his success — if Juan Felipe Herrera could accomplish what he did, surely their dreams can come true too.
‘The Day You Begin’
By Jacqueline Woodson
In school, the last thing you want to be is different – but that’s the burden two children must bear in “The Day You Begin,” by the incomparable Jacqueline Woodson.
“There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you.” This is Angelina’s experience, a dark-skinned girl with curly black hair. A boy in her school feels the same way; Rigoberto is from Venezuela and English is foreign to him. Sadly, Angelina and Rigoberto believe they don’t measure up.
When Angelina’s teacher asks the class what they did over the summer, the girl’s isolation increases, one student went to France, another to the beach in Maine. Their far-flung destinations are enviable — all Angelina did was baby sit her sister in a city where the heat “waved as it lifted off the curb.”
The arms of friendship open for Angelina and Rigoberto when they share their stories in this tribute to each individual’s contribution to the world, a poignant book beautifully illustrated by Rafael López.
By Kelly Yang
Mia Tang, a 10-year-old from China, and her family believed the streets would be paved with gold once they arrived in America. But life in California is far from easy for the Tangs in “Front Desk,” an eye-opening, engaging book by Kelly Yang that’s based on her own life experiences.
The Tangs come to the States with only $200 in their pockets and have to live in their car until they get a job managing a run-down motel for Mr. Yao, the property’s owner, a mean-spirited and spiteful man.
While Mia’s parents work endlessly cleaning rooms and laundering sheets and towels, Mia handles the front desk, registering guests and taking care of long-stay people called “weeklies.”
Mia is an admirable heroine with pluck who has aspirations of being a writer. It doesn’t take her long to make friends with many different types of people and to change lives, eventually concocting a plan that leads to a happy ending for the Tangs in a book that’s simply unputdownable, and chock full of goodwill.