2007's Top Five Children's Books Between Cultures

In 2007, five great stories featuring displaced protagonists captured attention in the children's book world (as measured by the Fire Escape's buzz radar).

A National Book Award nominee revealed the strange, lonely place a child inhabits after she leaves the land of her birth. M. Sindy Felin’s Touching Snow tells of Karina, a seventh-grader who moves from Haiti to a suburb in New York with her mother, sisters, and abusive stepfather.

Shaun Tan's wordless graphic novel, The Arrival, an achetypical immigrant's story, poignantly and masterfully depicted a young father escaping an unnamed war-torn country in search of a better life for his family in a new world.

A funny, fast read by a member of the Class of 2k7, Rose Kent, featured a likeable male protagonist. Kimchi & Calamari is the story of fourteen-year-old Korean adoptee Joseph Calderaro who sets out on a search for his birth family while enjoying close ties with his Italian-American parents and sisters.

Home of the Brave (my favorite readaloud of 2007) by Katherine Applegate is a lyrical novel told in the voice of brave, honest Kek, a refugee from a country in Africa starting a new life without his mother, father, and brother in wintry Minnesota.

And last but not least, Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah traveled from Australia to the US and made a big splash.  Amal, a 16-year-old Australian-born Muslim Palestinian, struggles with the hyphenated life as she decides to wear hijab at her prep school.

NOTE: Kids living on reservations cross cultural boundaries also, albeit in a different way, so I have to add that The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie was perhaps the most touted novel of the year. Alexie introduced us to unforgettable Junior, a Spokane Indian who transfers from the reservation school to a white high school.


Little Willow said…
I've read and really enjoyed three of these picks.
Pooja said…
I loved THE ARRIVAL and THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE... is on my bedside table. Books in this "genre" I enjoyed in 2007 were RICKSHAW GIRL, KEEPING CORNER, and TWIST (which was just nominated for a Cybil!).
Mitali Perkins said…
Remember that this list only features displaced protagonists -- that's why RG and KC and TWIST and even your lovely Mama's Saris don't qualify.
MotherReader said…
Great list. Some I've read, some not. But these are books that will definitely make it on my To Be Read list based on your suggestions.

Happy New Year!