Tuesday, August 14, 2018

📓2018 Back-to-School Picture Book Roundup📓

Summer is almost over and pretty soon it will be time for school once again. School can feel pretty daunting to young beginners and here are some picture books that may help these new students and some to tickle the funny bones of seasoned students.

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman
Alfred A. Knopf, 2018, 44 pages

It's the first day of school and the endpapers of this lovely book show a large group of wonderfully diverse kids and their parents/caregivers walking to a school with a big "All Are Welcome" banner across the entrance. Inside, kids spend their day getting to know each other and learning about their different cultural backgrounds through music, art, and stories. Even their lunches reflect their heritage and who they are. School here becomes what school should be everywhere: "We're part of a community/Our strength is our diversity/A shelter from adversity/All are welcome here." Besides cultural diversity, there is a blind student and one on a wheelchair, and there are a variety of families: single parents, moms and dads, two moms, two dads, and mixed race parents. The story is told in a three line rhyme that never falters and always end in the fourth line"All are welcome here" and no, it won't take kids long to begin chiming in on that line. The mixed-media illustrations are as bright and happy as the children and adults they depict. But wait, there's more: the back end paper shows the kids and their parents/caregivers leaving school at the end of the day, and if you take off the dust jacket, you will see each child up close and personal. This book should generate lots of conversations and there is much for kids to discover and talk about long after the first day of school is over.

Hello School! written and illustrated by Priscilla Burris
Nancy Paulson Books, 2018, 32 pages

It's the first day of school and young readers can follow a class of new students through a typical day, from meeting their new teacher and making new friends, to finding their cubbies and seats. Included are general activities such as circle time with singing, listening time, snack time, recess, exploring nature, learning numbers and letters, and of course, coloring. This particular class is friendly, diverse, and excited to be in school. The teacher's name is Mrs. Friend, giving her a nice positive image for young readers to take away as they begin their own school journey. The book follows a typical day, but the different activities unfold over the course of the first few months, by which time kids would know what the daily routine is. This is a wonderful book for talking about what happens when kids begin school and ideal for reading long before they start kindergarten, and even after. The mixed media illustrations are simple and uncluttered, with lots of white space, so kids can focus on what the class is doing. Each topic is introduced, highlighted in yellow, and give a short description. The kids all have speech bubbles, and Burris really has captured how kids think in them. This is a book every parent/caregiver/teacher will want to read to their beginning kindergarteners, and every young reader will benefit from knowing what to expect as they begin school. I say kindergarteners, but it works equally as well for pre-K and even first graders.

Lena's Shoes are Nervous, a First-Day-of-School Dilemma by Keith Calabrese, illustrated by Juana Medina
Atheneum BFYR, 2018, 40 pages

On the morning of the first day of school, Lena is very excited to begin kindergarten. She has picked out all of her favorite clothes, including her headband with the green flower, but now Lena has a problem - her shoes are nervous, and as she tells her dad, she can't go to kindergarten without her shoes. Lena's shoes need some reassurance and encouragement and Lena knows just the thing that can help her shoes work through their anxiety over starting school - the headband with the green flower. Even after shoes' fears are talked about, they are still hesitant to go to kindergarten, but when Lena thinks maybe she should wear her slippers, all works out in the end. The two things I really liked about this book are 1- that the dad is so understanding and patient and lets Lena work out she issues in the time and the way she needs to; and 2- how Calabrese has really captured the way Lena has projected her own anxiety onto her shoes (the things that would literally take her to school). Kids will often project their feelings onto an object as a way to cope with them, and here an understanding dad deals with it so well. It also means that this is a good book for whenever projected feelings arise in a child. The digitally created illustrations are somewhat cartoonish, and done in a mix of black and white and bright colors.

No! I Won't Go To School by Alonso NĂșñez, illustrated by Bruna Assis Brasil, translated from the Spanish by Dave Morrison
Tilbury House Publishers, 2018, 32 pages

It's the first day of school and one little boy already knows two letters - N and O and they spell NO. No, he will not go to school. Even though his mom says he will like it, our young man knows that he won't, that the teacher will be a monster, that school is a prison, and the principal is mean. But wait, after he gets there, he notices that there are lots more letters on the board besides the N and O, and school isn't a dungeon after all. In fact, at the end of the day, our young man has made six new friends and learned more letters, numbers, and two new Spanish words, and maybe, just maybe, he tells his mother, he will even go back again tomorrow. Told in verse, much of it rhyming with the word NO, Mexican-born author NĂșñez has adeptly created an imaginative look at that big unknown - the first day of school and the fears it can generate in some kids before the big day. And if NĂșñez has successfully captured first day jitters in his text, artist Brasil has matched them with her stylized mixed-media illustrations that include cleverly embedded photographic elements. This is a playful look at school that never minimizes first day fears or condescends to its young readers.

No Frogs in School A. LaFaye, illustrated by Églantine Ceulemans
Sterling Children's Books, 2018, 32 pages

No school jitters for Bartholomew Botts. He really likes school, but he just can't bear to leave all his pets at home, after all, they're his best friends. And he has lots of friends - hairy friends, hoppy friends, and scaly friends. So, on Monday, he decides to take Ferdinand the frog to school with him. But after Ferdinand gets loose, Bartholomew's teacher Mr. Patanoose rules "no frogs in school." Each day that week, a different pet goes to school with Bartholomew, and each day a new rule is made. By Thursday, the new rules is a doozie: "No snakes...No turtles. No lizards. No cold-blooded animals with scales. No reptiles!...No amphibians. No rodents. No dogs. No cats. No fish. No more of YOUR pets!..." Each day, Bartholomew had figured out how to circumvent Mr. Patanoose's rules, can he do it again on Friday after promising to obey Thursday's rule? Yes, indeed, and it's the perfect solution for everyone. And how did he do it? By knowing his animal categories, and so will young readers by the time Friday comes around. Bartholomew is a smart, optimistic character, and one never gets the sense the he is trying to outsmart his teacher, merely wanting the pets he loves to not be lonely. The detailed mixed-media illustrations are colorful, engaging, and fun, and young readers will no doubt want to spend time exploring and talking about them. This is a nice back-to-school book and a perfect opening for teachers to begin discussing class rules and maybe even if and what kind of class pet they should think about having.

Dear Substitute by Audrey Vernick, and Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Chris Raschka
Disney-Hyperion, 2018, 40 pages

Having been both a classroom teacher and a substitute teacher, I found this epistolary picture book just delightful. When a young girl discovers that her teacher, Mrs. Giordano, is out for the day and there is a substitute named Miss Pelly instead, she is completely thrown off course, documenting it all in letters written to the sub. And it seems Miss Pelly can't get anything right, from mispronouncing unfamiliar names, to cancelling a library visit, to putting off cleaning the class turtle''s tank until Mrs Giordano returns, to not recognizing our letter writer as the week's line leader, and to almost bringing her to tears at lunch over a sandwich swap. But after lunch, there's an extra story time. Miss Pelly reads some poems to the class and WOW! maybe our letter writer likes poetry and maybe Miss Pelly isn't so bad after all. The letters our narrator writes are full of emotion ranging from surprise to misgiving to critical to embarrassment. But these negatives all turn around in the afternoon, thanks to Miss Pelly's funny poems. The watercolor and gouache illustrations add needed humor to the situation, while cleverly catching the narrators changing emotions and perceptions of Miss Pelly throughout the school day. Although this is a book dealing with substitute teachers, it is also a good lesson in developing flexibility and accepting change and people's differences. I would recommend this be part of every elementary school classroom library since subs are a basic fact of school life.

Click, Clack, Quack to School by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin
Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2018, 40 pages

On Monday, Farmer Brown receives an invitation to visit the Dinklemeyer Elementary School and to "bring the animals, too!" When Farmer Brown tells the animals, they are so excited, the cows moo, the chickens cluck, the pigs oink, and the duck - well, the duck is meditating, and Farmer Brown just tells him not to be so duck-y. But when Farmer Brown tells them that school is quiet and serious, all that excitement deflates. The next day, they are a somber group as Farmer Brown pulls into the school yard. But then recess begins and the kids race out wiggling and giggling, thunking and clunking, squeaking and squealing, zooming and zigging, and the animals, well, they just join right in, getting all mooey, and clucky, and oinky...and duck-y. And everyone had a great visit with Farmer Brown's animals at school (even the mice who under the seesaw reading graphic novels). The watercolor illustrations are friendly and colorful, and the addition of kid-like drawings and a thank you note on the endpapers adds to the appeal.This is a jolly back to school book with simple text and repeated refrains that not only invites kids to interact with the story, but also teaches/reminds them that school can be serious, but there's room for fun as well. Those kids familiar with this series will find it a charming addition, those new to it will want to read more about Farmer Brown and his animals. and find out what makes duck so duck-y.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

For 10-year-old Mia Tang, migrating to the United States from China with her parents hasn't turned out exactly the way they had hoped it would. Living in their car and always being hungry wasn't what they had expected. And, even though her mother has a degree in engineering, in the U.S. she could only get a job as a waitress in a restaurant that hired her father as a fryer - until they were fired for Mia.

Now, they've landed a job as managers of the Calivista Motel, not far from Disneyland, and which also includes a small room they can live in. Maybe things were finally going to pick up for the Tang family, even if the owner, rich tightwad Mr. Yao, is as cold-hearted as he was calculating. However, it doesn't take long to discover that the handsome salary the Tangs are expecting is constantly shrinking with each mistake and accident, as Mr. Tao deducts costs for repairs and replacements. To make matter worse, Mia discovers that Mr. Tao's son Jason is in her class at school and isn't considered a very nice person there by the other kids.

Pretty soon, Mia starts helping her overworked and overwhelmed parents by running the front desk whenever she isn't in school. She becomes friendly with the five "weeklies" - guests who basically live at the motel, and begins making some changes to make the Calivista a friendlier motel, like collecting brochures and menus for the convenience of the guests. In school, Mia really struggles with improving her English, but makes a friend, Lupe, who helps her. And it doesn't take long for Mia to decide that she like English more than math, much to her mother chagrin, who'd rather she liked math.

After helping a fellow Chinese immigrant on the run from loan sharks, word gets out that Chinese immigrants on the run from their own terrible circumstances and who need a free place to stay for a night, will find a welcome at the Calivista. Mia's parents share their meager food rations and put them up in empty rooms, and in return, they learn about other immigrant experiences.

But, when Hank, an African American weekly, is mistakenly arrested for stealing a car and loses his job, Mia really discovers the power and satisfaction of knowing English when she volunteers to help him out. After using her writing skills to help out a few more people, including some of the Chinese immigrants, Mia is pretty certain that she can win an essay writing contest being held by a couple in Vermont who want to give their motel away to the writer of the best essay. But, first, she needs to raise the $300.00 entry fee. As strapped for money as her family is, can she ever get that much money together?

Set in the 1990s, and calling on her own experiences as a young immigrant from China, who also helped her parents manage a motel, including working at the front desk, Kelly Yang has written a debut middle grade novel that really rings true. And although she uses humor throughout, Mia's story, and that of her parents, is a serious look at the the difficulties faced by those who migrate to this country. Despite having a degree in engineering, Mia's mother is forced to take low level jobs; Mia's affordable clothes are made fun of in school, and the one pair of nice jeans she acquires causes her the worst humiliation. In school, Mia and her friend Lupe, an immigrant from Mexico, are forced to sit on the sidelines in gym because their families can't afford health insurance should they get hurt. These are serious issues and Yang has presented them in such a way that readers can't help but feel empathy toward them and all the struggling characters in this very insightful novel.

Mia is a spunky, determined protagonist, even if she is a little impulsive at time, and at times, gets mad at her circumstance (and who can blame her) but she exudes hope for the future throughout. Which isn't easy when you have to deal with bullying, poverty, and racism on a daily basis. But Mia is also smart, clever, and innovative.

One of the things I did find interesting is that Yang makes a Chinese American the "bad guy." Mr. Yao is definitely out for himself, consumed with not so much making money but acquiring it through other people's hard work. And he has a real nasty, mean streak. It is sadly not uncommon for this kind of thing to happen.

But my favorite thing is how Mia learned about the power (and sometimes superpower) of words and language and used it as a means out of her situation, and to help others out of theirs.

I can't recommend this book highly enough and I know that readers will definitely be cheering for this delightful young protagonist.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was an ARC received from the publisher.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

đŸœNext Best Junior Chef Trilogy by Charise Mericle Harper, illustrated by AurĂ©lie Blard-Quintard

It turns out that a lot of my kids are into cooking shows and really liked reading the first two books in this trilogy. Now that the last book is out, I decided it was time to read them myself after hearing what my kids said and then getting hooked on watching Master Chef Junior last spring when I was so sick. Watching that, I couldn't help but wonder how were those kids so good at cooking, creating, and competing on TV (something I can't even do in my own kitchen). Well, some of those secrets are revealed in these books and it was enlightening.
Meet the Contestants

Book One or rather, Episode one, Lights, Camera, Cook! introduces readers to the competition and the four competitors. Tate, 9, is a bundle of energy who can't stay still except when using a knife and he has some great knife skills; Caroline, 11, is half French and has grown up in her family's French bistro, where her mother is the chef. Caroline wavers between feeling nervous to feeling confident; Oliver, 12, is cool, calm and competitive. He's also the only contestant who has taken actual cooking lessons, but no one needs to know that, right?; and Rae, 11, who likes to do crafts and learned all her cooking skills from her grandmother and the people in her multicultural neighborhood. Rae isn't as confident at the other contestants but takes chances with her dishes.

And what are these four talented junior chefs competing for? The food truck of their dreams. Rae's would be called the Crafty Café, serving good food and having fun crafts to do; Oliver's would be called Bistro Revilo, serving only organic and locally sourced food that would have a twist to it; Caroline's truck would be called Diner Française, a fusion of American diner food with a French twist; and Tate's dream food truck would be called Stuff My Face, a mashup where each day would be a different culturally inspired dish.

The judges, a little more diverse than the contestants, are Chef Vera Porter, who appears to be African American and is famous for her Porter Farm Restaurant; renowned pastry Chef Aimee Copley; and Chef Gary Lee, restaurant proprietor and host of a show called Adventures in Cooking. And besides their dream food truck, the winner will get a guest spot on Chef Gary's show, to be filmed in Italy. The kids will be mentored throughout the competition by Chef Nancy Patel.

The first week of competition begins on a Friday and ends on a Thursday, when one person is eliminated in a final cook-off. During the week, there are mini cooking challenges, and winners can pick prizes from Gadget Wall, kitchen utensils they get to keep. And there are cooking lessons and field trips to learn from, and friendships and rivalries are formed. It's a rough week, and each junior chef has ups and downs, but they all so well and really surprise the judges. Readers discover how the kids learn to not look at the camera, a tough one for each of them, and how they know exactly what to get from the on-set pantry in such shorts amount of time. Yes, secrets are revealed and I loved discovering them. But in the end, one kid had to be eliminated. But who?

Episode Two, The Heat is On...is aptly named. As week 2 begins, there are only three contestants left, and each one knows that the challenges are going to be much more difficult. But by now, the junior chefs are comfortable in front of the camera and have learned to deal well with the pressure of being judged by professional chefs on TV. Although they all miss the contestant who had to hang up their apron in week one, they are ready to begins again. This week's theme is family and tradition and advisor Chef Nancy encourages them to try to wow the judges, to tap into their creative spirits. And that's exactly what they do, although sometimes that creative spirit overwhelmed the reality of their cooking skills. Their first competition is to cook a hot dog - the catch: each could use either fire, air or water to do it. I have to admit, hot dogs never sounded so good as they did by the end of this challenge. One of the more interesting challenges that really played into the week's theme was coming up with two desserts for a young lady's quinceañera - one making traditional alfajores and one innovative- and using the family's recipe for the difficult to make dulce de leche (but will the judges discover that one of the contestants burned their dulce de leche?). Since this was a team effort, the contestant eliminated the week before returns to form a second team. As fun and interesting as the second week is for the contestants, in the end, another one had to be eliminated. With only two left, the last week of competition was shaping up to be pretty interesting.

Episode 3, The Winner is... is every bit as exciting as it promised to be. The theme is discoveries and surprises and their first challenge is to make something using the same flavors they taste in a chilled soup, a soup with the distinct flavor of cilantro. But what if you have the gene that makes cilantro taste like soup as one challenger does? Can you work around that and win the challenge? Maybe, maybe not. The second day holds a real surprise - the two eliminated challengers are back and given another chance to be the final winner of their dream food truck. Needless to say, the two remaining challengers aren't very happy to see them at first, but soon it is like old times, or at least, like week one. Ramping up the competition naturally ramps up the challenges. The junior chefs are asked to come up with innovative dishes using cranberries, which proved to be really challenging. The next challenge was equally as difficult, to make two dozen donuts, one dozen for kid judges, one for the chefs to judge. The final challenge, however, is the best - a chance to see what working in a food truck is really like by working in the food truck of their dreams. Each junior chef has to create, in 90 minutes, an entrée, a side dish, and a dessert that they would serve in their own food truck.

The Next Best Junior Chef trilogy was a lot of fun to read. The characters were believable, even their sophisticated cooking talents worked for me because while they had confidence in the kitchen, they were still just kids away from it. I thought the friendship that developed between Rae and Caroline was a nice touch and well done, considering they also had to deal with being competitors.

The format is easy to follow and the distinct personalities of everyone -  chefs and junior chef - add a lot of excitement and tension to the books, aided by some interesting behind the scenes information. The descriptions of the dishes each challenger creates are nicely described, giving the reader a good sense of what it is like, which is usually mouth-watering delicious.  And there is a lot for budding chefs and/or foodies to learn about being a professional chef. One nice touch is that there is back matter in each book for young home cooks - knife skills, essential techniques like measuring, and how to cook flavorful food.

There whimsical black and white spot illustrations throughout the book, and there are even individual sidebar comments by each junior chef throughout, just as they do on all reality shows, and yes, you learn why they don't fumble for words when individually commenting.

If you are looking for some fun middle grade books to read this summer, I can't recommend these highly enough. Who knows, maybe your young readers will be motivated to test out their own cooking skills.

These books are recommended for readers and foodies age 9+
These books were borrowed from the NYPL

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees by Mary Beth Leatherdale, illustrated by Eleanor Shakespeare

One of the consequences of war is a high number of people who are forced to leave their homeland because of danger and/or persecution and seek asylum in other countries. Today, we see people seeking asylum from places like the Middle East, Mexico, and Central American countries. Many young readers may think that these stories they have been hearing about in the news and on TV about people fleeing their homeland are a new phenomena.

But, in fact, there have been a number of times that people left their homes to seek safety in the past. In Stormy Seas, readers will learn about five different young boat refugees who were forced to escape their homelands between 1939 and 2006.

The first story involves Ruth, an 18 year old Jewish girl who was lucky enough to get passage on the SS St. Louis in 1939, believing she was leaving behind the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany for safety in Cuba. But after arriving in Havana, Cuba refused to let the desperate passengers disembark, and when others country, including the US, refused to accept any of them, the ship was forced to return to Europe.

In 1979, the mother of 14-year-old Phu knew she had to get her son out of communist controlled Vietnam before he was forced into the army and certain death. Phu's mother paid a smuggler $3,500 for passage in an overcrowded boat, a dangerous trip made worse by pirates who stole everyone' money, jewelry, and food.

For José, 13, and his family, escaping Cuba really was a matter of life and death. His father had already been arrested twenty years earlier for plotting to overthrow Fidel Castro's communist government and now, in 1980, the family knew it would carry a stigma of suspicion forever if they remained in Cuba. Delays and rough seas made the 90 mile trip in an overcrowded boat very dangerous, as people became sick and stressed, and the boat began to take on water.

When the Taliban took over Afghanistan, life became dangerous for anyone who disobeyed their strict Sharia law. But for Najeeba, 11, and her family, the danger was even greater because they were member of the Hazara minority and as such, risked being killed. Najeeba's parents paid a smuggler $35,000 to get them passage to Australia and what they hoped would be safety. The family left Afghanistan in an overcrowded fishing boat that soon sprung a leak.

Lastly is the story of Mohamed, 13, from Maple, Ivory Coast in Africa. Mohamed's parents had been killed in a bombing and rebel forces had taken over his village. His older brother had already fled and Mohamed knew it was time for him to go, too. He walked to a refugee camp in Guinea, worked to save enough money to pay human traffickers for passage to Libya to be able to cross the Mediterranean Sea for asylum in Europe. And so once again, a child boarded an overcrowded boat hoping to find peace and safety at the end of his journey.

Mary Beth Leatherdale presents each one of these stories with compassion and understanding. She follows through, telling readers what became of each of the young people profiled and gives important statistics about their country and the refugees who left, and who were not always welcomed in the countries where they sought asylum. Their stories will certainly resonate with today's readers. There are also sidebars that give more information about each person's homeland and why they had to leave, and back matter that includes a timeline of people who sought asylum by boat, as well as resources for further reading.

Each of the young people survived their harrowing journeys and made new, successful life for themselves and their families. Their resilience, determination, and courage is so inspiring, and, I believe, they will also foster more empathy for today's refugees.

This book is recommended for readers age 10+
This book was an EARC received from NetGalley

Monday, July 23, 2018

Breakout by Kate Messner

It's two weeks before the end of school and the kids in Wolf Creek Middle School in upstate New York are looking forward to summer vacation. This year, however, they have a summer assignment to submit at least 5 items to be put into the Wolf Creek Community Time Capsule to be opened in fifty years. For best friends and lifetime residents of Wolf Creek Nora Tucker and Lizzie Bruno, the assignment is pretty interesting. Nora's father is the superintendent town's maximum security prison, and Lizzie's grandmother works in the prison kitchen.

But for Elidee Jones it's a very different story - she and her mother have just moved to Wolf Creek from New York City, a decision made when Elidee didn't get into the elite charter school she had applied to and since her brother is incarcerated in the prison, the move would make visiting him a lot easier. Nora and Lizzie are curious about Elidee, but find her to be unfriendly at first. Nora is also  upset because she used to be the fastest runner in gym class, and Elidee beat her timing by 30 seconds running a mile.

But no sooner does Elidee begin school in Wolf Creek then two inmates escape from the prison and everything comes to a halt. People are told to lay low at home while an intense manhunt begins. Lizzie's grandmother is in the hospital so she's staying at Nora's and the two girls can't wait to get out of the house to find out what's happening. At home, Elidee writes letters to her brother Troy and begins to explore her own creative voice through poetry, influenced by Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton, a play she saw with her NYC class just before moving.

As the days go by and the inmates aren't caught, the kids return to school and slowly Nora, Lizzie and Elidee form a tentative friendship. But the manhunt, the presence of reporters in town, the stress of thinking the two escapees might be everywhere and anywhere in or around Wolf Creek begins to crack open the friendly façade of the town's residents. Soon, Elidee is noticing racially based comments, behaviors, and microaggressions at school and in town, and experiments with recording her anger in different poetic forms. But Nora is also becoming aware that her beloved Wolf Creek isn't the warm, welcoming place she always thought it was, as she notices how people, including her mother, have an unconscious racism that makes them see Elidee not as a middle school kid, but as a racial stereotype. Thanks to her older brother, however, Nora also begins to understand some of the ways that systemic racism plays out in communities and especially disproportionate number of incarcerations of African Americans, as well as other social injustices faced by people of color in this country.

And Lizzie, well, she learns what it means to have a family member incarcerated when it comes out that the escape was an inside job.

Told through variety of methods - letters, text messages, poetry, recorded conversations, new reports, even comics, and by various people beside Nora, Lizzie and Elidee - Breakout is based on a real prison escape (and being a New Yorker, one that I remember quite well). Elidee's presence and the breakout aren't the main storyline, but really the catalyst that brings out people's true feelings about race and racial profiling. Once they see this happening, it is up to Nora and Lizzie to figure who their own authentic selves are and not Elidee's job to teach them or change them. Elidee's presence in the story is to find her own authentic voice as a poet for expressing her feelings about what she experiences.

Breakout is a fast read, but we get to know the main characters so well. I loved watching Elidee's growth as a poet, Nora growth as an empathic person (who knows what she will do with that) and Lizzie's growth as a journalist. But I really enjoyed seeing Elidee's growth as a poet. I think a lot of people don't realize that copying the style of greats artists is one way to get there. And Elidee has chosen some of the best - Langston Hughes, e.e. cummings, Jacqueline Woodson, Nikki Grimes, and of course Lin Manuel-Miranda. Interestingly, we never really discover why Elidee's brother is in prison and we don't need to know.

Breakout is a timely book and one that should be on every middle grade classroom, and every middle grade library.

This book is recommended for readers age 10+
This book was an EARC received from NetGalley
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