Life is hard for ten-year-old Safiyah in the Kibera slum outside Nairobi. Too poor to go to school, she makes a meager living for herself and her grandmother Cucu by selling things she finds at the garbage dump. After using scavenged paper to fix up the inside of the hut, Safiyah starts a mural on the outside. As word of the paper house spreads, Safiyah begins to take pride in her creation. When Cucu collapses after a fire, Safiyah stays at the hospital to help care for her grandmother. While Safiyah is away, her friend Pendo works on the mural, which upsets Safiyah. But when Pendo attracts media attention to the paper house, Safiyah and her grandmother are given a chance of a better life.
Jesse's project about his immigrant ancestors is due tomorrow and he hasn't started. In a last-ditch effort to find some information about his great-great grandfather, Yossi, Jesse rummages through the mess in the attic until he finds a little battered travel case, full of pictures, and something else - a Star of David. At first it looks plain and unimportant, but as he holds it in his hand, the star begins to glow. Jesse is in for the surprise, and adventure, of his life as he finds himself becoming the star's first owner, his own great-great grandfather. Now a boy in Russia in the 1880s, Yossi lives in a little village, watched over by thieving soldiers who hate the Jewish community and often raid their crops before they can be stored for the winter. The whole village prays for the opportunity to slip away from their Russian keepers and escape to Canada, a land where they can be free. And nobody, even his parents, think Yossi is old enough to be of any help. But Yossi is out to prove them all wrong. If his plan works, he will set the whole village free. And he must do it alone. An adventure story for young readers, Jesse's Star is also a compelling history of one family's struggle to be free in the new world.
Ten-year-old Rosario Ramirez and her family are political refugees from Mexico, trying to make a new life in Canada. After being teased at school, Rosario vows not to speak English again until she can speak with an accent that's one hundred percent Canadian. Since she and her parents plan to spend the whole summer working on BC fruit farms, she will be surrounded by Spanish speakers again. But when her family's closest friend Jose gets terribly sick, Rosario's plans start to unravel. Neither Jose nor Rosario's parents speak English well enough to get him the help he needs. Like it or not, Rosario must face her fears about letting her voice be heard.
Belle, an 11-year-old Metis girl, and Sarah both want the coveted job of church bell ringer. An embroidery contest is held to award the position, and Sarah cheats. Before Belle can expose her, the two are caught up in the advancing forces of General Middleton and his troops as they surround Batoche in the 1885 Riel Rebellion. The church bell disappeared that day and remains missing to this day.
Martha knows she is adopted, but she's well-loved and popular, at least until her mother gets pregnant and she feels her parents' attention start to shift. Upset and confused, Martha lashes out at and loses her friends. She also makes no secret about her annoyance at being forced to do a school project about sturgeon with Chance, a difficult boy whose foster parents are family friends. To add insult to injury, Martha's birth mother announces that she is getting married and moving away. Now Martha isn't number one in anybody's life. When her mom goes into labor prematurely, Martha realizes that she needs to figure out a way to be a better friend and daughter, and a great sister.
Colette Faizal isn't superstitious, so she doesn't worry when a fortune-teller advises Colette's mother to "watch for the unexpected." But when her father announces he is going back to Iran, her mother is hurt in a car accident and Colette is sent to live with the grandparents she's never even met, everything the mysterious woman predicted seems to be coming true. As Colette struggles to bring her family back together, she tries to hold on to the last thing the fortune-teller told her: "You will know how to handle what lies ahead."
Murphy and his three friends, Danny, Jeff and Albert, are making the transition from the tribal elementary school to the community middle school. They are all trying out for the middle school's soccer team, and they're pretty confident that The Formidable Four will all make the team. But once the tryouts begin, Albert, the tribal-school superstar, plays like a second stringer. Murphy's new friend, Molly, is determined to help the boys find out what's wrong with Albert, but when they discover the truth, they realize that Albert is playing a whole different game.