This Caudill nominee is based on the real life experiences of the author. Ten year old Ha, moves from 1975 Saigon at the end of the Vietnam war to Alabama. Her family is "adopted" through a war relief program and starts life anew in a basement apartment in a small town. Being the "new kid" takes on all new meaning when you have to learn a whole new language, eat new foods and adapt to new customs. Ha was always a spunky, head strong smart kid in old country. She misses feeling that way. The story is told in the very popular here at Sears prose poetry style making this a fast paced but lyrical reading experience. The flow of the words will help the reader understand Ha's point of view during this particular time in her life but in our country as well. A great Caudill choice for anyone.
Don't let the cute cover fool you! Donna Gephart doesn't pull any punches in this humorous but serious story about middle school, family and friendship. David, would be video comedian, is really nervous about starting middle school. His only hope is starting with his best friend Elliot, his only pal from their feeder elementary. Elliot however has other plans such as befriending the worst bully on campus by feeding him embarrassing information about David that is used against him. Back at home life is complicated by David's mom having moved to another state and marrying someone new. David's dad and sister are trying their best to cope so David keeps trying to manage school on his own leading to one disaster after another. Things begin to turn around when David is paired for a science project with Sophie, a classmate, who appreciates his Youtube comedy videos and spreads the word. Modern realistic fiction needs to be believable to work as a good read and this novel hits all the right marks. Another great genderless Caudill choice.