Bee is eleven years old, she lives and works at a carnival, helping with the hot dog stand. Bee has a birthmark the shape of a diamond on her face, which she tries to keep hidden from everyone. She only feels safe when Pauline is nearby.
Then, one day, Bee finds a dog hanging around and she knows she needs to find a permanent, safe place for herself and the dog. When Pauline leaves the carnival for a new opportunity, Bee knows she will need to take a chance and leave herself. With the help of a lady in a floppy orange hat that only Bee can see, she finds the courage to set out on her own and find a home. She gets herself enrolled at school and starts to find her own strength.
Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco (Lexile: 790; Interest Level: Grades 3-6) story is a brilliant mix of realistic/ historical fiction and fantasy which addresses some issues from World War II economics, education of students with special needs, and homelessness. Students who enjoy stories such as Wonder may be interested in this 2015-2016 Indian Paintbrush Nominee. (336 p.)
At the beginning of Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan (Lexile: 680; Interest Level: Grades 4-8), we find a boy named Otto going into the woods with a book and a harmonica during a game of hide and seek. There he meets 3 mysterious sisters, whose story he was reading in his book, but no one believes his encounter.
Then the story shifts to that of Friedrich, a boy in Germany at the beginning of World War II. Friedrich wants to be an orchestra conductor, but the large birthmark on his face caused him to be bullied so much he had to leave school and begin working at the harmonica factory with his father. When his father was arrested, Friedrich had to figure out a way to save him.
Our story shifts again to Pennsylvania where we meet Michael, a piano prodigy, and his little brother Frankie, who needed to be adopted by a loving family. In order to get Frankie a home he would love, Michael made a deal with a possible adoptive mother that if she kept Frankie, he would join a harmonica band. In fear that the possible mother would back out, Michael needed to come up with a new plan.
A few years later, Ivy Maria attended a school in California for migrant children where she has finally made friends and was going to play a harmonica solo on the radio. Her family moved to a more stable job just before her solo, and she found it difficult to adjust to the segregation she experienced at her new school, which was complicated by the fact that her father was managing a farm for a Japanese family while they were forced to stay at an internment camp.
All four of these stories merge together in a very powerful way that is unpredictable. I was enthralled all the way through this book, which I think will appeal to everyone who is interested in World War II, music, and Pam Munoz Ryan's other works! This is possibly my favorite of the 2015-2016 Indian Paintbrush Nominees! (592 p.)
A second sports-related book for the 2015-2016 Indian Paintbrush Nominee list, The Rookie Bookie by L. John Wertheim & Tobias Moskowitz (Lexile: 680; Interest Level: Grades 3-6) is a story of Mitch Sloan, the new kid at his middle school. Mitch enjoys numbers the way other kids enjoy sports. He understands economics and how to make money better than his parents who run a store where they sell their art. It seems like this should be a good thing; however, the other kids usually think he's weird and his parents think he's just a kid. So, when he starts at his new school, he tries playing sports to make friends. The friend he makes is a girl who understand the statistics of sports almost as well as he does, and the two of them decide to start up a business where they help other students place bets on sports games, charging the kids $2 a bet for their services.
When the school officials find out about the gambling ring, they are not very pleased. Neither are Mitch's family members. And he almost loses his only real friend. Can Mitch figure out a way to bounce back and earn his friend's and parents' trust? Find out in The Rookie Bookie! (272 p.)
Piper lives in a scavenging town in the outskirts of the kingdom where she makes a living fixing things that she and others find in the Meteor Fields after a shower. Things arrive in the meteors from other worlds, and the people sell them for money to live on. Her whole world changes, however, when she finds a strange girl in the wreckage of a caravan and realizes that it is up to her to save the strange girl, who can't remember who she is, from the man who is chasing her.
The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson (Lexile: 820; Interest Level: Grades 4-8) engages the reader in a fantastical world in which science and mechanics play a big role. Piper is sure that helping the strange girl with the Mark of the Dragonfly is very important--the mark is that of the king of the neighboring kingdom, after all--but she is not sure who she can trust to help her. Stowing away on the train seems like a good idea, until they get caught, and the young boy who works security seems both threatening and helpful.
This novel has been described as steampunk, science fiction and fantasy, and I will add to that fun, engaging, and worth the read. I hope all readers enjoy this 2015-2016 Indian Paintbrush Nominee! (400 p.)
One of the reasons I became an elementary school librarian is so I can read children's books.