I just can't imagine hating sugar! It's so yummy--well, at least stuff made with it is! However, the main character in Jewell Parker Rhodes's book Sugar (Lexile: 430; Interest Level: Grades 3-6) absolutely hates sugar, even if it is her name! Why does Sugar hate sugar? Well, I suppose we may hate it too if we grew up on a sugar plantation just after the slaves were freed and we spent each day working in the sugar cane. According to Sugar, the cane stalks have little needles that are constantly biting you back, which is a good reason to not like it much.
Just because the slaves had been freed does not mean that Sugar, who was born a slave, can be free from sugar. Black children are still not allowed to go to school, and they are pretty much expected to help their families earn money by working hard in the fields. They have to get paid for their work now, but they aren't getting paid much.
Then, Mr. Wills, the owner of the plantation, has some Chinese men come in to help work the sugar. There is a lot of distrust between the black slaves and the new Chinese workers, but Sugar finds the newcomers fascinating. Can she make friends and help bridge the gap between their cultures? Can they learn to work together so they can all keep their jobs? And what is she going to do about the plantation owner's son, who seems to really want to be friends with Sugar, even though it isn't allowed? This 2015-2016 Indian Paintbrush Nominee has a little for everyone: history, adventure, cultural diversity, and even some major trouble. I recommend this for anyone who is interested in the post Civil War era, farming, and of course, sugar. (288 p.)
One of the reasons I became an elementary school librarian is so I can read children's books.