Buy, Borrow, Bypass: If You Loved Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline WoodsonJacqueline Woodson’s Newbery Honor/National Book Award/Coretta Scott King Award winning book, Brown Girl Dreaming, is such a phenomenon among both kids and adults that we can barely see the book cover through all the award stickers plastered on it. This demonstrates a couple of trends: 1) Kids will read poetry and 2) Books written for a middle grade audience appeal to adults.

If you loved Brown Girl Dreaming and were sad to find yourself finishing the last, beautifully crafted page, here are other suggestions for what to read next:



The Crossover by Kwame AlexanderThe Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Josh and Jordan are twelve years old, twins, and in love with basketball. Their father is a retired professional basketball player who teaches them all his signature moves and coaches them to dominate the courts. But then Jordan takes up with a pretty girl and the twins’ brotherly bond begins to fray, followed by Josh overhearing their parents fighting about his father’s declining health. Soon the courts don’t hold the peace that Josh could always count on, and his world begins to crumble.

This language in this book draws you in, swirls you around, and leaves you wanting more. Perfectly written, lyrical, rhythmical, joyous, and heart-breaking.

Verdict: Buy


The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis PinkneyThe Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Shane Evans

Twelve-year-old Amira has one dream: to go to school in Nyala. Her father is supportive but her mother believes that Sudanese girls should keep busy with chores rather than get an education. Amira holds onto her dream, but when the Janjaweed invade her peaceful village and leaves destruction and death behind, Amira and her family flee to a refugee camp. It’s there where Amira receives a most precious gift: a simple red pencil that changes her life.

The Red Pencil handles devastating topics: war, death, lack of education. It is what makes this book so important for the middle grade audience and beyond. The writing is gorgeous and the stark pen drawings bring the story to life; there is much to treasure and absorb in this very powerful book.

Verdict: Buy


Red Butterfly by A.L. SonnichsenRed Butterfly by A.L. Sonnichsen and illustrated by Amy June Bates

Kara was abandoned as a young girl in China, and a well-meaning American woman takes her in. When the book begins, Kara is eleven and living in China with her American mom, and she starts wondering about all the secrets. Why does her mom never leave the apartment? Why is her daddy living in Montana? Why does she have to be careful about what she says around the landlord? When her aunt arrives and reveals the truth behind their family, Kara finds herself paying for the price of her parent’s lies.

Red Butterfly is an unusual story with compelling characters. It examines the decisions we make and the consequences we live with. A solid read, especially for those interested in international adoption.

Verdict: Borrow


Hidden by Helen FrostHidden by Helen Frost

Wren Abbott was eight years old when Darra Monson’s dad steals the minivan that Wren was hiding in. The next few days changed the course of both Wren and Darra’s life, and it is only when the two girls end up at the same summer camp years later that they realize they each have only a part of the puzzle and need each other to discover the whole story. Told in alternating points of view, the poetry flows freely and distinctly in the two voices of Wren and Darra.

This was a very enjoyable read (and that cover!). The mystery of the two girls and their relationship to each other are sure to have middle grade readers interested to the last page. Be sure to read the author’s note at the end where she talks about a form of poetry she creates specifically for this book, then go back and see how it adds to the story.

Verdict: Borrow


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