Archive for July, 2019

Review of Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, by Meg Medina

Saturday, July 6th, 2019

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

by Meg Medina

Candlewick Press, 2013. 260 pages.
Starred Review
2014 Pura Belpré Award Winner
Review written July 5, 2019, from my own copy obtained at 2019 ALA Annual Conference

A wonderful thing happened at ALA Annual Conference – as the exhibits were closing, I was able to grab free copies of two of our Newbery winner’s backlist titles. Then, with it in my bag, I did some reading later while waiting in line, so this was the first book I read after the conference.

The story is told in the voice of Piddy (short for Piedad) Sanchez. It begins with a bang:

“Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass.”

A kid named Vanesa tells me this in the morning before school. She springs out with no warning and blocks my way, her textbook held at her chest like a shield. She’s tall like me and caramel. I’ve seen her in the lunchroom, I think. Or maybe just in the halls. It’s hard to remember.

Then, just like that, Vanesa disappears into the swell of bodies all around.

Wait, I want to tell her as she’s swallowed up. Who is Yaqui Delgado? But instead, I stand there blinking as kids jostle for the doors. The bell has rung, and I’m not sure if it’s only the warning or if I’m late for first period. Not that it matters. I’ve been at this school for five weeks, and Mr. Fink hasn’t remembered to take attendance once. A girl near his desk just sort of scans the room and marks who’s out.

It turns out that Yaqui Delgado is a bully, and Piddy is in real trouble. It starts with small things that Piddy can’t pin on her, such as a chocolate milk thrown in her direction that explodes all over Piddy’s clothes. But Yaqui becomes hyperaware and starts living her life to avoid Yaqui Delgado. Her grades suffer. But she can’t tell her mother what’s really going on.

If only they could move back to their old neighborhood. But Aunt Lily teaching her to salsa dance may have been what got her into this mess. She’d been walking with a swing in her hips. That will certainly stop, as now she’s living in fear.

You might think this couldn’t fill a whole book, but it does, and does it well. If nothing else, I learned from this that bullying isn’t simple and doesn’t have simple solutions. And yet it can be overcome.

You’re with Piddy in her fears, frustrations, and gut-wrenching decisions. And ultimately, you’re with her as she figures out how to rise above the fear.

This is a lovely book that immersed me in a world I didn’t know. I was touched by the author’s note at the back:

Years ago, when I was in school, a girl in a rabbit-fur jacket cornered me in the school yard and announced that one of our school bullies was going to beat me up. What I remember most from that time was loneliness and all the risky choices I made as I embarked on the search for a tough-girl shell that could withstand any attack. But as I struggled against the dread of being in school, I became someone else entirely. I hid every talent and interest I had in the hope of appearing fierce and untouchable to the bully and the rest of the world. It was a struggle to find my identity and inner strength – as a student, as a young woman, as a Latina. I was in a fight for my dignity.

Meg Medina brings us into this fight for dignity in this beautiful book.

Buy from

Find this review on Sonderbooks at:

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

48-Hour Book Challenge: Independence Weekend Finish Line

Saturday, July 6th, 2019

There! I’ve just spent the last 48 hours trying to focus on reading, writing and reviewing, in a 48-hour Book Challenge.

I did not get as much done as I would have liked to. That never happens. But I did have a completely lovely time. And I did get more accomplished than I would have if I had just treated it as an ordinary two days off.

For time, I managed to spend 27 hours and 15 minutes reading, writing, and reviewing.

That was broken down this way:
12 hours, 55 minutes reading
5 hours, 35 minutes writing reviews
4 hours, 35 minutes blogging about ALA Annual conference
2 hours, 15 minutes posting reviews
1 hour, 30 minutes emailing (I decided to count that as writing to keep from feeling isolated.)
And 25 minutes housekeeping (making my spreadsheet) and organizing book piles.

Here’s what I accomplished:
I completely read four books, finished two more that I’d already begun, and read parts of five other books, for a total of 1,313 pages read.

I wrote reviews of eleven books, completely catching up on reviews I wanted to write. (This was a goal that I did accomplish. I didn’t want to get further behind on writing reviews.)

I posted only two reviews and two Sonderquotes posts. (Had hoped to do more.)

I posted two blog posts about the Challenge itself (counting this one) and two blog posts about ALA Annual Conference. (Had hoped to at least finish ALA Annual Conference.)

All that adds up to 8,311 words written.

But best of all, I had a whole lot of fun. And I convinced myself that as I begin a new phase of life — post-Newbery and attending a new church — I do want to put a focus on reading, writing and reviewing.

And that is where my joy lies.

Now I’ve got two days left of my 4-day weekend to try to do my normal weekend things — which hopefully include a little reading, writing, and reviewing!

Conference Corner: Day Two at ALA Annual Conference 2019

Friday, July 5th, 2019

After the PLA Member Welcome Breakfast on Saturday, I visited the exhibits and then went to the Margaret Edwards Brunch, where M. T. Anderson was receiving a YALSA award for his books Feed and the two Octavian Nothing books.

At each seat, there was a copy of his book Feed.

Here’s the review of Feed that I wrote in 2003. I will take credit for being sure it would be a future classic! After all, it won the Margaret Edwards Award!

Here are my notes from the talk he gave after the meal:

He began at 22 years old as an office assistant at Candlewick Press.
He has been ahead of several trends by six years: Vampires, dystopian, steampunk… (Soon there should be a trend on nonfiction about World War I.)

It’s a good time to be writing for the young, and his speech was about Hope.

In the past, he’s written to leave the reader with anxiety and even panic. If we want things to be different, we need to do something.

Now he’s filled with hope and fury. There’s hope in action.

The turn of the century (when he started writing) was the time of the Death of Cute. Nothing was allowed to be innocent. The sweet had to bear the wound for the rest of us. The culture was engorged with disillusionment.

Bitter cynicism is often the sign of sensitivity.

The party that denied Darwinism became the party of social Darwinism.

He hopes his work of that period distinguishes itself with compassion.

It was the Age of Spoliation. His worries about that are: It became cliché and it could hurt kids’ sense of wonder.
If none of this has intrinsic meaning, we need to make meaning.

Don’t crush kids’ sense of wonder.

Training in happiness is as important as training in crisis.

We knew things were wrong but were too terrified to act. We were worried that kindness and generosity were a suckers’ belief. We tried to avoid thinking about it.

It’s easier to teach that nothing is good than to confront the bad.

Thirteen years of post-apocalyptic literature have brought us to a time when we don’t need to imagine a dystopian world; we live in one. Even the privileged can’t hide any longer.

The Age of Spoliation was protecting us from admitting the horror is real.

Authors who were eccentric and political in 2005 are now swamped.

The Age of Spoliation is over. Now is the Age of Action.

Teens today know the stakes. Our nation is galvanized and ready for action.

You’re here on this earth for a little while. Together, let’s make this the world you dream of.

Librarians are central in converting cheap cynicism to compassionate action.

Let’s act so the young don’t have to shun the cute, but fight for it.

After his speech, he signed the books we’d been given.

Next, I went to the exhibits and stopped by my co-worker’s poster session!

My next event was to attend the Auditorium Speaker Series with Eric Klinenberg, author of Palaces of the People being interviewed by Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden.

The book is about social infrastructure. Here are notes on their interview:

Carla Hayden: You included libraries!

Eric Klinenberg: I discovered the library later in life. And the idea of social infrastructure, which is just as important as other infrastructure.

After Hurricane Sandy, they held a design competition, and there was a proposal for a “Resilience Center” — it would be a building in every city across America, staffed with extras, stocked with resources, etc. (The whole room laughed because he described libraries.)

We’re searching everywhere for community. We walk by this place every day.

“The most amazing social infrastructure designers could ever build — it’s called the library.”

“The most extraordinary institution one could imagine is already here, the library.”

A lot of people think every problem needs a new solution. People in elite circles don’t realize all the library does.

We need libraries more than ever, but they’re still under threat.

Local leaders need to take advantage of the commitment of librarians. Think of libraries as essential social infrastructure.

Librarians are a critical part of democratic culture. Libraries are a safety net when social services are cut.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg reviewed his book before anyone had heard of him. How cool is it that a presidential candidate is talking about libraries?

The 2020 census will be online — we need libraries.

Wouldn’t you love to ask all candidates about libraries?

CH: Plant the Library Question! [If you’re ever in a town hall with a presidential candidate, ask them about libraries!]

EK: Libraries help people elevate themselves. The public library is still a place where massive numbers of people are going all the time to make something more of their lives.

He told about Virtual Bowling at Brooklyn Public Library.

Think of how many relationships happen because of the work you do in the library every day.

CH: It helps having someone not part of the library be an advocate.

EK: We need to bring the message to Congress.

The truth is that the library has transformed. The library is dynamic and has modernized.

Across the country, our infrastructure is out of date. Libraries are critical social infrastructure.

In libraries, people have experiences that aren’t pre-scripted. Something about the radical inclusiveness of the library is important.

His book is a story of librarians as much as libraries.

CH: Being a public librarian means you are empowering people.

EK: Librarians are critical actors in a social experiment.

What makes our communities work? When this incredibly powerful institution is there and invested in, things work.

Find language that works well. Shout it from the rooftops.

There’s a growing realization that democratic institutions are at risk.

There are not many places that invite communities to discuss issues together. Tech companies invest millions in social infrastructure. Meaningful social engagement happens in a physical space.

Data don’t speak for themselves. Just throwing numbers doesn’t do the trick.

There are different kinds of data: REcord what’s happening and explain it with qualitative data. After we have the numbers, we have to have a powerful narrative. We are wired for story.

Put together a story, based on good evidence, for why libraries deserve better.

Review of The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown, by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Sarah Jacoby

Friday, July 5th, 2019

The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown

by Mac Barnett
illustrated by Sarah Jacoby

Balzer + Bray, 2019. 42 pages.
Starred Review
Review written May 29, 2019, from a library book

This is not your typical picture book biography. Since the author is Mac Barnett, I shouldn’t have expected typical. But the cover and art looked so lovely and sedate, I didn’t notice the author was Mac Barnett until the text started getting unusual.

Here’s the beginning of the book:

Margaret Wise Brown lived for 42 years.
This book is 42 pages long.
You can’t fit somebody’s life into 42 pages,
so I am just going to tell you some important things.

The important thing about Margaret Wise Brown is that she wrote books.

Mac Barnett begins giving facts about Margaret Wise Brown with this introduction:

It can be odd to imagine the lives of the people who write the books you read,
like running into your teacher at the supermarket.
But authors are people.
They are born and they die.
They make jokes and mistakes.
They fall in love and they fall in love again.
They go to the supermarket to buy tomatoes,
which they keep in the bottom drawers of their refrigerators,
even though tomatoes should stay out on the counter.
But which of these things is important? And to whom?

Then he gives facts about her life, including that she fell in love with a woman named Michael and a man named Pebble (no more details than that, though it certainly got me curious). Then he tells about her childhood and many pets.

I like the summaries of her most well-known books:

This is a story about a rabbit.
The rabbit must go to bed,
and he takes a long time
saying goodnight to everything.
Nobody knows why he says goodnight
to all this stuff –
his socks and some mush and even the air –
but I have an idea.
I think it is because he is afraid to go to sleep.
Have you read this book?
Do you know what I mean?

This is a story about a rabbit.
He is trying to escape from his mother.
But his mother just won’t let him get away.
(Maybe that is why he is trying
to escape from her.)

The author tells us about some strange things Margaret Wise Brown did. And about some strange things in her books:

Now it’s true that Margaret Wise Brown wrote strange books.
In her books, you would turn the page
and the story would suddenly change.
Sometimes a duck would appear for no reason.
And the narrator would often stop telling the story
and ask the reader a question.
Now isn’t that a strange thing to do?

Some people,
when they see something strange,
become bothered.
These people build worlds that make perfect sense,
even if that means ignoring many strange things
around them.

Now here is something I believe.
(I know there are only 23 pages left in this book,
but it’s important.)
No good book is loved by everyone,
and any good book is bound to bother somebody.
Because every good book is at least a little bit strange,
and there are some people who do not
like strange things in their worlds.

He goes from that discussion to telling about Anne Carroll Moore of the New York Public Library. He tells about some strange things she did, without commenting that they are strange. She stamped Margaret Wise Brown’s books with “NOT RECOMMENDED FOR PURCHASE BY EXPERT.” This meant they were kept out of the New York Public Library and many other libraries. Then he goes on to tell what Margaret Wise Brown did when she herself was kept out of the New York Public Library.

This book is a strange book. And here’s what the author has to say about that:

Lives are strange.
And there are people who do not like strange stories,
especially in books for children.
But sometimes you find a book that feels as strange as life does.
These books feel true.
These books are important.
Margaret Wise Brown wrote books like this,
and she wrote them for children,
because she believed children deserve important books.

If you like strange but informative books for children, this is a good one.

Buy from

Find this review on Sonderbooks at:

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Conference Corner: PLA Member Welcome Breakfast

Thursday, July 4th, 2019

The second day of ALA Annual Conference 2019 began with the PLA Member Welcome Breakfast — where I received the 2019 Allie Beth Martin Award. This award is given for “extraordinary range and depth of knowledge about books or other library materials; and distinguished ability to share that knowledge.”

I agree with the Newbery Honor winners that it’s a real treat to be given an award that doesn’t require a speech. In many ways, my work on the Newbery committee this year made my knowledge of books easier to come by, but I felt like the award also gave me some credit for the Sonderbooks website I’ve worked on since 2001. Who knew they gave an award for being obsessed with books?

All year I’d thought of getting on the Newbery committee as validation that I made the right choice in becoming a librarian. And since I wouldn’t have become a librarian if I hadn’t gotten divorced (probably would have continued to work in libraries part-time), it was also big strong evidence that God can work even bad things together for good.

Winning this award put a capstone on those things. Yes, being a librarian is my calling! How lovely to have this reinforced!

I was allowed to invite four guests, and since the conference was in DC, they were able to come. First, with my supervisor, Gary Goodson, who wrote my nomination:

I also invited Jessica Hudson, our library director, who had the idea to nominate her people for Public Library Association Awards, and Nancy Ryan, who used to work with me at my first Fairfax County library and suggested me for the award. My co-worker Suzanne Lapierre was at ALA that day and also came along.

And Fairfax County Public Library won *two* Public Library Association awards. This group won an award for a program series about fake news.

And the speaker at the breakfast was Ann Patchett!

She did a powerpoint presentation, and promised a list of the titles she mentioned on her website,

She didn’t want to talk about her new book, which would be full of spoilers, so she talked around it, talking about her life interviewing other authors.

Interviews are great for authors, not so great for the store (more work!).

She talked about authors she’s met. She loved J. K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, which she got to read early and was later panned by critics. But she hadn’t read any Harry Potter books, so maybe her lack of expectations helped.

Alan Alda changed her attitude to interviewing. He says to be prepared, then leave all the preparation behind and be completely in the present.

Her book Commonwealth was an autobiographical novel. None of it happened and all of it was true.

Then she interviewed Zadie Smith, who was very kind. She said that the mother in the book is the mother I’m afraid of becoming.

So she wrote a novel about her deepest fear — becoming a horrible stepmother.

She reread Angela’s Ashes to review how to write in first person.

Then she was distracted by children’s books, writing one illustrated by Robin Preiss Gleisman. And Sandra Boynton loaned her a house to work on her novel.

But she threw it away.

Then an interview with Barbara Kingsolver told her to go back to what she threw away.

And Kate DiCamillo gave her the ending of the book — after just hearing what it was about.

And she told a super interesting story of the trials and tribulations and many attempts to get that novel right. Meanwhile, she did multiple interviews and had 10 different houseguests in the month of April alone.

Afterward, she signed Advance Reader Copies for all of us!

Review of The Colors of All the Cattle, by Alexander McCall Smith

Thursday, July 4th, 2019

The Colors of All the Cattle

by Alexander McCall Smith

narrated by Lisette Lecat

Recorded Books, 2018. 9.75 hours on 9 compact discs.
Starred Review

I do love Alexander McCall Smith. Okay, he rambles at times, and his characters tend to go over and over their feelings and decisions. But they are delightful people to spend time with, and I lose my impatience when I listen to the books on my commute, since spending time with them makes sitting in traffic a much less odious experience.

This is now the 19th book about the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. (Wow!) This book had more about Charlie, who was a young apprentice in the first book and is now getting to be a young man. He does some investigating in a difficult case, and we learn more about his private life.

But we also have Mma Potokwami manipulating Mma Ramotswe into running for Council – even though she doesn’t want to at all. She is not the sort of person who likes politics. But her opponent is none other than the villain of every book (Okay, this is always where I roll my eyes) – Violet Sepotho. So of course she can’t simply let Violet run unopposed. At stake is a proposed project to put up the Big Fun Hotel next to a graveyard – which would disrespect all the late people in the graveyard and their families.

As always, this book takes us to the heart of Botswana and shows us the heart of Botswana. It also shows some good people helping other people. And it’s nice to spend time in their company, even if it feels like a little more time than another author would have given the same events. By the end, you’re ready to pull up a chair, drink some red bush tea, and enjoy the stories.

Buy from

Find this review on Sonderbooks at:

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Independence Day 48-Hour Book Challenge

Thursday, July 4th, 2019

It’s time for a 48-Hour Book Challenge, Independence Day Edition!

But Sondy, you may ask, why are you doing a book challenge when you’re no longer on the Newbery committee and no longer need to spend every spare minute reading books?

Well, when I was talking with friends at ALA Annual Conference about my Newbery experience, I realized that what I miss most is being able to make reading my top priority. I miss having an excuse to set aside everything else and read.

I’m also frustrated because when I don’t make reading a priority — books just aren’t getting read as quickly! There were so many books I wanted to get to after the Newbery was done — and they’re languishing, still unread. (Also, books for adults are just so darn long!)

And then I thought, well, why don’t I make reading a priority, anyway?

Another thing that happened during ALA Annual Conference was that I received the Allie Beth Martin Award from the Public Library Association for “extraordinary range and depth of knowledge about books and distinguished ability to share that knowledge.” That was nice validation for my website,, full of book reviews, which I’ve been writing since 2001. During my last month reading for the Newbery, I actually posted one review almost every day — because I wanted to catch up on posting all my pre-2018 reviews. But since then? So few have gotten posted.

Now something got set aside during the Newbery, and it’s that I’ve always wanted to be a published writer. But of course I wasn’t going to try while I was on the Newbery committee because of conflict of interest. Now it’s time to embrace writing again. Beginning with my blog and writing up my time at ALA Annual Conference. But I have two other blog series going that I want to continue and that have been languishing — A Universalist Looks at the New Testament, about Christian Universalism, and Transcending: They’ll Know Us By Our Love, about the Bible and transgender people. I’d love for either one or both of these series to eventually become a book, but for now I have a lot more to write on the blog.

So there you have it, in my post-Newbery life, I want a fresh focus on Reading, Writing, and Reviewing.

I am therefore adjusting the rules of the 48-Hour Book Challenge. Instead of just counting reading time, I will also count time writing and reviewing. In fact, my plan is to alternate an hour of each one. The challenge comes in to see how much of the next 48 hours I can fill with Reading, Writing, and Reviewing. I’ll also keep track of pages read, books completed, words written, and reviews posted.

Oh, the other factor is I’m almost disappointed I don’t ever go to the Capitol Fourth on the National Mall, because my boycotting it today loses any meaning. But I am boycotting it today. Being given Friday off as well as Independence Day makes this the perfect time to set aside 48 hours for a Book Blitz!

I began at 11:15 on July 4th. I will finish at 11:15 am on Saturday. Here goes!

Conference Corner: Opening Night ALA Annual Conference 2019

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

After a delightful ALSC Preconference on June 21, I headed to the Washington Convention Center and was on time to hear Jason Reynolds speak at the Opening Session — though I had to listen in the Overflow Room.

He called his talk “This Is the Ridiculous and Absurd Study of Architecture,” and the structure imitated the style of his new book, Look Both Ways.

Part One: He told the story of his mother’s first funeral.

She was at an old-fashioned funeral and was fumbled as they passed the little girl over the casket. (He told it much, much more colorfully than that!) She became obsessed with death.

At 17 years old, she began studying Buddhism and Hinduism.
She eventually joined the Catholic church because it was quiet and meditative.
When Jason was 12 years old, he said he didn’t want to go to church, and she said, “Okay.”

Part Two: Sundays at his friend Aaron’s house

On Sundays he’d sleep a little later and visit his best friend Aaron’s house.
Their family had 5 kids. Nobody had time to clean.
It was a place of freedom for Jason. (Jason’s house was a place of comfort for Aaron.)
Sunday was fried chicken at Aaron’s house.
Then they’d climb on the roof and share stories and dreams.

Part Three: The Library of Alexandria

In 300 BCE Alexander the Great was in Egypt. First thing he decided to do was build a library. Biggest library on earth. At its peak, it held 400,000 papyrus documents on its shelves. They created an overflow library that shared space with a temple.
Nobody knows what it looked like or how it disappeared.
The theory that’s most true: The Roman empire came in and they got rid of anything against it and burned the books.

Part Four: Rewind. Words from his mother:

“I don’t wanna go to church.” “Okay.”
“My job is to help you find your path, not stop you from looking for it.”
“Your body is a temple.”
“Anything that makes you feel bigger than your burden is sacred.”

Part Five: Principles

Come as you are.
All are welcome.
Turn away no one.
Build community.
Enact service.

Share stories to build community.
Narrative is what we use to fortify us.
Something’s the matter when people try to stop the narrative flow.

Every sacred thing suffers persecution.

Think about this:
Maybe what librarians truly are is architects.
Maybe we’re building walking, talking libraries.
Telling each other stories is storing books in our personal stacks.
Imagine training young people to actually be safe spaces.

The role of an architect:

1) Build a building that pays homage to you.
2) Build a building that services the world.

We’re creating walking, talking libraries.

He’s preaching to the choir — but choirs need to practice.


After that inspirational message, I went back to my car to get my wheeled bag (I have a doctor’s note) and hit the exhibits after the first wave of the Running of the Librarians had subsided.

I had some fun:

And I picked up some loot:

Finally, I headed to a restaurant right next to where I’d parked, where the complete Newbery committee was being treated to a nice dinner with the two Honor authors, Catherine Gilbert Murdock and Veera Hiranandani. It was the first we’d seen each other since January.

Here’s my place card:

We were at two tables, with an author at the center of each:

They spoke to us after dinner:

And traded tables during dessert:

After eating, they signed books for all of us.

Lali showed off her beautiful tattoo from the cover of The Night Diary.

Here are our two honor winners, Veera and Catherine:

And here are most of us with the authors (Alas! Abby, Eric, Pam, and Sue got cut out):

It was a joyous night!

Review of We’re Not From Here, by Geoff Rodkey

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

We’re Not From Here

by Geoff Rodkey

Crown Books for Young Readers, 2019. 250 pages.
Starred Review
Review written June 19, 2019, from a library book

Here’s a tremendously fun and creative science fiction book for kids, with plenty to seriously think about as well.

Set in the future, the book begins with Lan and his friends on Mars, talking about rumors that the colony has found a new planet where humans can live.

Humans made earth uninhabitable a year before, but many escaped to a colony on Mars. However, the air processors were wearing down, people’s clothing was ragged and stinky, and the only food they had to eat was something called Chow manufactured by the Nutrition department. So humans needed a new place to live.

They found a planet called Choom with an atmosphere that will support human life. What’s more, Choom had taken in alien refugees before. There were already four species of aliens on Choom, three of which originally came from different planets. The main species, the Zhuri, look like giant mosquitoes. After some negotiating, they get an invitation to come to Choom as refugees. They go into bio-suspension for twenty years to make the trip. But when they wake up, the government of Choom has changed, and humans are no longer welcome.

In orbit around Choom, the humans who are left do not have enough fuel to go anywhere else. If Choom doesn’t take them, they’ll die. But the Zhuri now believe that humans are too warlike. After much negotiating, since they did invite the humans to Choom, the Zhuri agree to take one human family. If they can live in peace, all the humans can come, but if there are any incidents, the whole human race will have nowhere to go.

Lan, his sister, and their parents are the family chosen to represent humans. Lan and his sister must navigate going to school on an alien planet and trying not to cause any trouble – without knowing how anything works.

And they soon realize they have been set up to fail. Movies about World War II (from earth transmissions) have been playing on Choom television, showing how violent humans are. The Zhuri swarm in protest. Do Lan and his family even have a chance of saving the human race?

That makes the story sound grim, but it’s full of humor – because natural misunderstandings have plenty of food for humor. In fact, humor may be the key to saving the day.

This one takes the new-kid-at-school story and makes it intergalactic.

Buy from

Find this review on Sonderbooks at:

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?