Things are looking partly cloudy for Madalyn Thomas and her family. After being out of work for the last 7 months, her dad has found work in another state and her mom’s schedule as a social worker has become more packed from taking on overtime. Madalyn’s parents send her to live with her Great Uncle Papa Lobo during the week to allow her to attend school in a different district because of security issues at her former school. But as the only Black girl in class, Madalyn faces a new set of challenges at this new school.
Bindu’s Bindis are her favorite accessories — and she has a lot of them! Her Nani (grandmother) sends her a new pack every week and Bindu loves changing them to match her mood, outfits, or the occasion. Bindu loves her culture and the heritage the bindis represent, but most of all, they make her feel connected to her Nani. But when Nani comes to visit and the family is confronted with xenophobic protests outside the airport, Bindu wants to hide her bindis and the parts of her culture that make her feel “other.”
E.L. Shen’s The Comeback follows 12-year-old figure skater, Maxine Chen. Maxine loves figure skating and is pretty good at it too. Her parents are extra supportive and make financial sacrifices so that Maxine can pursue her passion. Still, they’re balanced and never pressure her to do anything she doesn’t. They also always ensure that she prioritizes school work and is not too hard on herself.
Maxine is a confident skater and feels sure that she’s got at least third place in the bag during her contest, but things start to get complicated when a new skater named Holly shows up. Holly is better trained and more experienced on the ice and Maxine begins to feel jealousy and other negative emotions. Maxine is also struggling with a bully at school who makes racial jokes about Maxine, such as about her monolid.
In Not Your All-American Girl, Lauren is Jewish and Chinese. It’s the 1980s and Lauren and her best friend — who’s blonde with blue eyes — do everything together. So when they don’t have any sixth-grade classes together, they’re bummed! They decide that they will audition for their school’s musical so that they can at least have that time together. Lauren’s audition goes swimmingly, and she’s obviously the better singer than Tara (even better than any of the other kids), but when the cast list is released Lauren is only part of the ensemble and Tara is cast as lead. Upon confronting the director, she explains that Lauren’s half-Jewish, half-Chinese looks don’t match the role of “all-American girl” in the “all-American town” depicted in their musical.
The Long Ride by Marina Budhos is the story of three mixed-race girls in the 1970’s. Francesca, Jamila, and Josie are chosen to be part of a trial desegregated school experience.