Eleven-year-old Kaden has managed to stay under the radar for most of his life. With the exception of Kubla, a pet crow, Kaden doesn't have any friends his own age and he's okay with that. After all, friends can ask inconvenient questions. Questions like Why do you live with your grandmother and where is your father? Questions Kaden doesn't want to answer. Apart from school and a few trips to town, Kaden and Gram keep to themselves, living a simple life at their cabins outside the small community of Promise. But now Kaden's life is getting a lot more complicated. He's starting middle school, which brings its own set of problems for a boy who doesn't fit in. And then he learns that his father, a man he has never known, is getting out of prison and moving to Promise. After years of being the outsider at school, Kaden is given a chance to come out of his shell when Yo-Yo, a new boy, moves to the area and offers friendship. But can Kaden trust him? Will Yo-Yo be a real friend after he learns about Kaden's father? The true meaning of friendship, love, responsibility, and loyalty is explored in this novel for middle-grade readers.
It's 1942: Tomi Itano, 12, is a second-generation Japanese American who lives in California with her family on their strawberry farm. Although her parents came from Japan and her grandparents still live there, Tomi considers herself an American. She doesn't speak Japanese and has never been to Japan. But after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, things change. No Japs Allowed signs hang in store windows and Tomi's family is ostracized. Things get much worse. Suspected as a spy, Tomi's father is taken away. The rest of the Itano family is sent to an internment camp in Colorado. Many other Japanese American families face a similar fate. Tomi becomes bitter, wondering how her country could treat her and her family like the enemy. What does she need to do to prove she is an honorable American? Sandra Dallas shines a light on a dark period of American history in this story of a young Japanese American girl caught up in the prejudices and World War II.
Each paperback in this series features a trio of fictional stories highlighting a moment in American history. Troubled Times contains three stories focusing on the Great Depression. In The Lucky Star a girl helps her sister and other children learn to read when their school is closed. Rudy Rides the Rails features a boy living the hobo life. In Junk Man's Daughter, a family struggles after moving to the United States.
Voices for Freedom contains three stories focusing on the Underground Railroad and the 1963 Freedom March on Washington. Stories are Friend on Freedom River, Riding to Washington, and The Listeners.In Friend on Freedom River, written by Gloria Whelan, runaway slaves ask Louis to ferry them across the Detroit River to freedom in Canada. Hes not sure what to do. If they are caught, it means prison for Louis. Written by Gwenyth Swain, Riding to Washington tells of one girls journey to attend the 1963 Great March on Washington. Janie and her father ride a bus to Washington, D.C. to hear a man named Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak. During the trip, Janie sees firsthand the injustices that many others endure. In The Listeners, another offering from Gloria Whelan, each night Ella May and her friends secretly listen outside the windows of their masters house. They listen to learn their fates and those of the other slaves.
As a young boy in Gujarat, India, Kumar sometimes feels like he lives in two worlds. First there is the old world where people and their choices are determined by prejudice and bigotry. But then there is the second, modern world: in this world Kumar can be friends with whomever he chooses and his future looks bright. As part of the annual Diwali celebration, Kumar is invited to the house of his classmate Andal to watch fireworks. Andal is from a high-caste Brahmin family so Kumar is especially pleased to be included. But there in Andal's house, Kumar's two worlds collide in a very unpleasant way. Instead of being welcomed as a guest, Kumar is sent away, forbidden to join the festivities. Angry and hurt, Kumar is left questioning his place in Indian society. Where does he fit in? To which world does he really belong?