Ariel Goldberg is in middle school, dealing with friendship and learning challenges. Ariel is also dealing with family issues, as her beloved older sister Leah leaves home to marry Raj, the Indian man that she has fallen in love with. When Leah’s parents refuse to accept the marriage, Ariel realizes that it is through poetry that she is best able to communicate her feelings about all that is happening in her life.
This story takes place shortly after the Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virgina in 1967 and is inspired by the author’s own family history.
Ophelia, or Ophie, wakes up one night to her father telling her she needs to get out of the house. Moments later, some men from town come and set it on fire. It is only later that Ophie discovers her father was killed the night before, and that his ghost came to give her the message. She and her mother flee Georgia for Pittsburgh, where they must live with Ophie’s sweet great aunt, but also her horrible aunt and cousins. Seriously, they are really unpleasant! Ophie’s mother gets a job as a maid in a very rich family’s home, and soon Ophie must come to work there as well. All the while, she keeps seeing ghosts, and what’s more, the ghosts know she can see them. They start to ask her for things, things they need said or done so they can pass on. Ophie stumbles across a mystery at her job, and her curiosity and desire to help cause her to put herself in danger, all in the name of solving the mystery and helping one very charming ghost.
This book takes place in the 1920s, and Ophelia’s family is black. Her father is killed because he tried to vote. Even though black men got the right to vote in 1870, it was basically impossible in the South at that time. And even though Ophie and her mom come to the north, they still experience a lot of racism and bad treatment. The story is a hard and sad one, but also very exciting, and by the end, I was so proud of Ophie for her bravery and compassion. If you like your ghost stories with some historical facts sprinkled in, pick up Ophie’s Ghosts by Justina Ireland. I listened to the book, which was wonderful, so if you like audiobooks, give it a listen.
Alyssa loves to draw and has a crush on Alejandro. She is in middle school and everything is changing, it is a confusing time. I can not imagine what it was like to be a child in New York city when 9/11 happened, but Alyssa describes everything she is feeling so wonderfully. My parents are divorced too and I remember the struggle of making sure I had what I needed at each parent’s house. Alyssa captures growing up in a really universal way.
The month of February is African American History Month, also known as Black History Month, in the United States. It was first celebrated in 1926 as Negro History Week. It was created to highlight the contributions Blacks have made to American history and culture. Within a few decades, the event had become an important part of African American life and had spread throughout the country. The United States government declared it a monthlong celebration in 1976.
You can learn more about Black history by researching in our online databases, or come into the library and check our display on Black History Month, which features just a handful of the materials we have about the achievements and history of Black Americans.
*The term #OwnVoices was coined by the writer Corinne Duyvis, and refers to an author from a marginalized or under-represented group writing about their own experiences/from their own perspective, rather than someone from an outside perspective writing as a character from an underrepresented group. (thanks to Seattle Public Library for this concise definition.)
The Youth Services staff at MPPL are happy to announce our picks for best books for kids published in 2020! Whether you need some great choices to meet your reading goal for the year, or want to buy some great books as gifts for the kids in your life, our selections have you covered! Check them out on our website.
And for more great books you might have missed, here are some other end of year lists you will want to check out!