Different And The Same

by Dianne White on September 30, 2011

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Sometimes accepting one another’s “differentness” begins at the exact intersection of our sameness. This month’s final BOOK ROOM post includes books that are about those children who know the uncomfortable feeling of being “different” yet find a way to turn negative perceptions into positives.

MOCKINGBIRD by Kathryn Erskine (Philomel Books, 2010)

MOCKINGBIRD is a beautifully written story about a ten-year-old girl with Asperger’s who must learn to deal with the confusing gray that has descended over her home and life after the death of her brother in a tragic school shooting. Caitlyn doesn’t know what to do and her father, lost in his own grief, isn’t much help. But Caitlyn is persistent. She tries to Get It.

Eventually, Caitlin does find her way, not only to a measure of Closure for herself, but also for the community in which she lives.

INSIDE OUT & BACK AGAIN by Thanhha Lai (HarperCollins 2011)

Hà has lived in Saigon all her life.  Just before her first birthday, Hà’s father left to become a soldier, and though they’ve haven’t heard from or seen him in years, they continue to believe he’ll return to them one day.

Now Father’s best friend, Uncle Son, says they must leave before the war comes any closer to home and escape is impossible.

The journey is long and treacherous, and the many cultural differences and adjustments make life in the United States difficult. In her new home, Hà is misunderstood and mistreated. She eventually begins to settle in and starts to understand and appreciate the differences that make her who she is as a unique person with the power to write her own future.

WHITE WATER by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein, illustrated by Shadra Strickland (Candlewick Press 2011)

Michael couldn’t wait to make the trip to town with his grandma. But things are different for them. They aren’t allowed to share the bench with the white people waiting at the bus stop, even when Michael and his grandma get there first.

When he finally arrives in town, Michael and another boy from the bus run to the fountain for a long cool drink to ease their thirst. The “warm, rusty water tasted OK. But only for a few sips.” Then, “it tasted like nasty, muddy, gritty yuck.” Standing there, side-by-side with the white boy who kept drinking and drinking what looked to be icy cold mountain water, made Michael determined to know what “white water” tasted like.

The answer to that question changes everything.

HOUND DOG TRUE by Linda Urban (Harcourt Children’s Books 2011)

Maddie and Mama have moved again and Maddie has a plan to make it through the awkward first days and weeks at another new school. She’ll become Uncle Potluck’s custodial apprentice and avoid facing the difficult task of making new friends and overcoming her uncomfortable shyness.

It isn’t easy for Maddie to let Mama know how she really feels, or to share her deep down, secret hopes. But she does and, in the process, also finds a friend who is “hound dog true.”

HOUND DOG TRUE is the kind of book that won’t speak to every child, but will reach into the soul of any child who, like Maddie, knows and lives with the pain of shyness. It’s the kind of book that a librarian, teacher, or parent could share with that one particular child who needs exactly what this book offers. The child who will hold this book close to her heart and treasure it as the one book that changed everything and let her know she was not alone.

Linda October 1, 2011 at 6:10 am

Oh Dianne.
Thank you for this beautiful review of Hound Dog True. I hope you are right about that last bit. It’s the reason I write.
Linda Urban

Dianne October 1, 2011 at 8:01 am

Thank you, Linda, for writing beautiful books! I’m a fan of your work. Keep writing!

flora October 2, 2011 at 7:03 am

I love your book suggestions but they would be more helpful to the librarian in me if they included the publication year.

Dianne October 2, 2011 at 7:19 am

Thanks for the suggestion, Flora. Publication info has now been added!

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