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Children's Literature

Books in BU's Juvenile Collection

Books featuring Characters from other Cultures

The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian / by Sherman Alexie.  2007.  Fic A384a.   Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

Accidental love / Gary Soto.  2006.  Fic S718ac.  After unexpectedly falling in love with a "nerdy" boy, fourteen-year-old Marisa works to change her life by transferring to another school, altering some of her behavior, and losing weight.

Adaline Falling Star / Mary Pope Osborne.  2000.  Fic O816a.  Feeling abandoned by her deceased Arapaho mother and her explorer father, Adaline Falling Star runs away from the prejudiced cousins with whom she is staying and comes close to death in the wilderness, with only a mongrel dog for company.

America: a novel / by E.R. Frank.  2002.  Fic F8282a.  Teenage America, a not-black, not-white, not-anything boy who has spent many years in institutions for disturbed, antisocial behavior, tries to piece his life together.

American born Chinese / Gene Luen Yang.  2006.  741.5973 Y223a.  Michael L. Printz Award, 2007.  Alternates three interrelated stories about the problems of young Chinese Americans trying to participate in the popular culture. Presented in comic book format.

Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe / Benjamin Alire Sáenz.  2012.  Fic S1276a. Pura Belpré Award.    Fifteen-year-old Ari Mendoza is an angry loner with a brother in prison, but when he meets Dante and they become friends, Ari starts to ask questions about himself, his parents, and his family that he has never asked before.

Ask me no questions / Marina Budhos.  2006.  Fic B9276a.  Fourteen-year-old Nadira, her sister, and their parents leave Bangladesh for New York City, but the expiration of their visas and the events of September 11, 2001, bring frustration, sorrow, and terror for the whole family.

The barbed wires of hate / Martha Sias Purcell.  2002.  Fic P985b.  Hiroshi and his family must relocate to one of the internment camps set up for people of Japanese descent living in the United States.

Becoming Naomi León / Pam Muñoz Ryan.  2004.  Fic R989b.   When Naomi’s absent mother resurfaces to claim her, Naomi runs away to Mexico with her great-grandmother and younger brother in search of her father.

The birchbark house / by Louise Erdrich. 1999. Fic E667bOmakayas, a seven-year-old Native American girl of the Ojibwa tribe, lives through the joys of summer and the perils of winter on an island in Lake Superior in 1847.

Black and white / Paul Volponi.  2005. Fic V933b.  Two star high school basketball players, one black and one white, experience the justice system differently after committing a crime together and getting caught.

Bound / Donna Jo Napoli.  2004.  Fic N216bo.  In a novel based on Chinese Cinderella tales, fourteen-year-old stepchild Xing-Xing endures a life of neglect and servitude, as her stepmother cruelly mutilates her own child's feet so that she alone might marry well.

The boy in the striped pajamas: a fable / by John Boyne.  2006.  Fic B7928b.  Bored and lonely after his family moves from Berlin to a place called "Out-With" in 1942, Bruno, the son of a Nazi officer, befriends a boy in striped pajamas who lives behind a wire fence.

Breaking through / Francisco Jiménez.  2001.  Fic J61b.    Having come from Mexico to California ten years ago, fourteen-year-old Francisco is still working in the fields but fighting to improve his life and complete his education.

Bronx masquerade / by Nikki Grimes.  2002. Fic G8616b.  Coretta Scott King Award.   While studying the Harlem Renaissance, students at a Bronx high school read aloud poems they’ve written, revealing their innermost thoughts and fears to their formerly clueless classmates.

Bud, not Buddy / Christopher Paul Curtis. 1999. Fic C9783bu. Newbery Award. Coretta Scott King Award.   Ten-year-old Bud, a motherless boy living in Flint, Michigan, during the Great Depression, escapes a bad foster home and sets out in search of the man he believes to be his father--the renowned bandleader, H.E. Calloway of Grand Rapids.

Chains / Laurie Halse Anderson.  2008.  Fic A5474ch.  After being sold to a cruel couple in New York City, a slave named Isabel spies for the rebels during the Revolutionary War.

Chanda's secrets / Allan Stratton.  2004.  When her youngest sister dies, the first hint of HIV/AIDS emerges, and Chanda must confront undercurrents of shame and stigma.  A girl's struggle amid the African AIDS pandemic.

Code talker: a novel about the Navajo Marines of World War Two / Joseph Bruchac.  2005.  Fic B8874co.     After being taught in a boarding school run by whites that Navajo is a useless language, Ned Begay and other Navajo men are recruited by the Marines to become Code Talkers, sending messages during World War II in their native tongue.

Copper sun / Sharon M. Draper.  2006. Fic D766c.  Coretta Scott King Award.  Two fifteen-year-old girls--one a slave and the other an indentured servant--escape their Carolina plantation and try to make their way to Fort Moses, Florida, a Spanish colony that gives sanctuary to slaves.

Cuba 15: a novel / by Nancy Osa.  2003.  Fic O798c.  Violet Paz, a Chicago high school student, reluctantly prepares for her upcoming "quince," a Spanish nickname for the celebration of a Hispanic girl's fifteenth birthday.

Daniel half human: and the good Nazi / David Chotjewitz.  2004.  Fic C5517d.  In 1933, best friends Daniel and Armin admire Hitler, but as anti-Semitism buoys Hitler to power, Daniel learns he is half Jewish, threatening the friendship even as life in their beloved Hamburg, Germany, is becoming nightmarish.

Day of tears: a novel in dialogue / Julius Lester.  2005. Fic L642d.  Coretta Scott King Award.  Emma has taken care of the Butler children since Sarah and Frances’s mother, Fanny, left. Emma wants to raise the girls to have good hearts, as a rift over slavery has ripped the Butler household apart. Now, to pay off debts, Pierce Butler wants to cash in his slave "assets", possibly including Emma.

Denied, detained, deported: stories from the dark side of American immigration / Ann Bausum. 2009. 325.73 B351d.   An award-winning author examines the history of American immigration--a critical topic in 21st century America--particularly those lesser-known stories of immigrants who were denied entrance into the States or detained for security reasons.

The devil’s arithmetic / by Jane Yolen.  1990. Fic Y545d.  Hannah resents the traditions of her Jewish heritage until time travel places her in the middle of a small Jewish village in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Elijah of Buxton / Christopher Paul Curtis.  2007.  Fic C9783e.  In 1859, eleven-year-old Elijah Freeman, the first free-born child in Buxton, Canada, which is a haven for slaves fleeing the American south, uses his wits and skills to try to bring to justice the lying preacher who has stolen money that was to be used to buy a family’s freedom.

Emil and Karl / Yankev Glatshteyn; translated by Jeffrey Shandler.  2006. Fic G5499e.  In Vienna, Austria, in 1940, two nine-year-old boys, one Jewish and one Aryan, are classmates and best friends when events of the Nazi occupation draw them even closer together as they fight to survive and escape together.

Esperanza rising / Pam Muñoz Ryan.  2000.  Fic R989e.  Esperanza and her mother are forced to leave their life of wealth and privilege in Mexico to go work in the labor camps of Southern California, where they must adapt to the harsh circumstances facing Mexican farm workers on the eve of the Great Depression.

Eyes of the emperor / Graham Salisbury.  2005.  Fic S167e.  Following orders from the United States Army, several young Japanese American men train K-9 units to hunt Asians during World War II.

Fallen angels / Walter Dean Myers.  1998,  2008.  Fic M9969fal.  Seventeen-year-old Richie Perry, just out of his Harlem high school, enlists in the Army in the summer of 1967 and spends a devastating year on active duty in Vietnam.

Farewell to Manzanar / Jeanne Wakatsuki & Houston, & James D. Houston.  1998.  940.53089956 H8435f.  A memoir describing the experiences of Jeanne Wakatsuki and her family before, during, and following imprisonment at the Manzanar concentration camp, due to the United States government's internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Feathers / Jacqueline Woodson.  2007.  Fic W898f.  When a new, white student nicknamed "The Jesus Boy" joins her sixth grade class in the winter of 1971, Frannie’s growing friendship with him makes her start to see some things in a new light.

First crossing: stories about teen immigrants / edited by Donald R. Gallo. 2004.  Fic F5273.  Stories of recent Mexican, Venezuelan, Kazakh, Chinese, Romanian, Palestinian, Swedish, Korean, Haitian, and Cambodian immigrants reveal what it is like to face prejudice, language barriers, and homesickness along with common teenage feelings and needs.

The first part last / Angela Johnson.  2003. Fic J658f.  Coretta Scott King Award. Bobby’s carefree teenage life changes forever when he becomes a father and must care for his adored baby daughter.

Forged by fire / Sharon M. Draper. 1997. Fic D766f.  Coretta Scott King Award.  Teenage Gerald, who has spent years protecting his fragile half-sister from their abusive father, faces the prospect of one final confrontation before the problem can be solved.

Forty acres and maybe a mule / Harriette Gillem Robinet. 1998. Fic R656fBorn with a withered leg and hand, Pascal, who is about twelve years old, joins other former slaves in a search for a farm and the freedom which it promises.

Freedom walkers: the story of the Montgomery bus boycott / Russell Freedman. 2006.  Covers the events surrounding and including the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the end of segregation on buses.

The game of silence / Louise Erdrich.  2005.  Fic E667g.   Nine-year-old Omakayas, of the Ojibwa tribe, moves west with her family in 1849.

The Great Death / John Smelcer.  2009.  Fic S638g.  As their Alaskan village’s only survivors of sickness brought by white men one winter early in the twentieth century, sisters Millie, aged thirteen, and Maura, ten, make their way south in hopes of finding someone alive.

Hana's suitcase: a true story / Karen Levine.  2002.   920.72 B8125L.  A biography of a Czech girl who died in the Holocaust, told in alternating chapters with an account of how the curator of a Japanese Holocaust center learned about her life after Hana's suitcase was sent to her.

Haveli / Suzanne Fisher Staples.  2002.  Fic S794h.  Having relented to the ways of her people in Pakistan and married the rich older man to whom she was pledged against her will, Shabanu is now the victim of his family's blood feud and the malice of his other wives. Sequel to "Shabanu, Daughter of the Wind."

Heart of a samurai: based on the true story of Manjiro Nakahama / Margi Preus.  2010.   Fic P9429h.  Newbery Honor, 2011.  In 1841, rescued by an American whaler after a terrible shipwreck leaves him and his four companions castaways on a remote island, fourteen-year-old Manjiro, who dreams of becoming a samurai, learns new laws and customs as he becomes the first Japanese person to set foot in the United States.

I am Regina / Sally M. Keehn.  1991.  Fic K258iIn 1755, as the French and Indian War begins, ten-year-old Regina is kidnapped by Indians in western Pennsylvania, and she must struggle to hold onto memories of her earlier life as she grows up under the name of Tskinnak and starts to become Indian herself.

I know why the caged bird sings.  1970.  920.72 A584i.  Maya Angelou recounts a youth filled with disappointment, frustration, tragedy, and finally hard-won independence.

In the name of God / Paula Jolin. 2007. Fic J752i. Determined to follow the laws set down in the Qur’an, seventeen-year-old Nadia becomes involved in a violent revolutionary movement aimed at supporting Muslim rule in Syria and opposing the Western politics and materialism that increasingly affect her family.

Island of the Blue Dolphins / Scott O’Dell. 1960. Fic O23i.  Left alone on a beautiful but isolated island off the coast of California, a young Indian girl spends eighteen years, not only merely surviving through her enormous courage and self-reliance, but also finding a measure of happiness in her solitary life.

Iqbal / written by Francesco D’Adamo; translated by Ann Lenori.  2003.  Fic D121s.  A fictionalized account of the Pakistani child who escaped from bondage in a carpet factory and went on to help liberate other children like him before being gunned down at the age of thirteen.

Julie of the wolves / Jean Craighead George.  1972. 1973 Newbery Award.  Fic G348j.   While running away from home and an unwanted marriage, a thirteen-year-old Eskimo girl becomes lost on the North Slope of Alaska and is befriended by a wolf pack.

Keeping corner / Kashmira Sheth.  2007.  Fic S5545k.  In India in the 1940’s, thirteen-year-old Leela’s happy, spoiled childhood ends when her husband since age nine, whom she barely knows, dies, leaving her a widow whose only hope of happiness could come from Mahatma Ghandi’s social and political reforms.

Kensuke's kingdom / Michael Morpurgo.  2003.  Fic M871k.  When Michael is swept off his family's yacht, he washes up on a desert island, where he struggles to survive--until he finds he is not alone.

Kira-kira / Cynthia Kadohata.  2004.  2005 Newbery Award.  Fic K112k.  Chronicles the close friendship between two Japanese-American sisters growing up in rural Georgia during the late 1950s and early 1960s, and the despair when one sister becomes terminally ill.

The kite rider: a novel / by Geraldine McCaughrean.  2002.  Fic M123k.  In thirteenth-century China, after trying to save his widowed mother from a horrendous second marriage, twelve-year-old Haoyou has life-changing adventures when he takes to the sky as a circus kite rider and ends up meeting the great Mongol ruler Kublai Khan.

The land / Mildred D. Taylor.  2001. Fic T2443L.  Coretta Scott King Award.  After the Civil War Paul, the son of a white father and a black mother, finds himself caught between the two worlds of colored folks and white folks as he pursues his dream of owning land of his own.  Sequel: Roll of thunder, hear my cry.

Let the circle be unbroken / Mildred D. Taylor.  1981. Fic T2443Le.  Coretta Scott King Award.  Four black children growing up in rural Mississippi during the Depression experience racial antagonisms and hard times, but learn from their parents the pride and self-respect they need to survive.  Sequel to: Roll of thunder, hear my cry.

Letters from Rifka / Karen Hesse.  1992. Fic H587.  In letters to her cousin, a young Jewish girl chronicles her family’s flight from Russia in 1919 and her own experiences when she must be left in Belgium for a while when the others emigrate to America.

A light in the sky / Cynthia Mercati.  2000.    Fic M553L.  In 1941, when an American pilot with the British Royal Air Force parachutes into the woods near her French village, fourteen-year-old Jeanne tries to keep him safe from the Nazis.

A long hard journey: the story of the pullman porter / by Patricia and Frederick McKissack.  1989.  331.8811385 M158β.  Coretta Scott King Award.  A chronicle of the first black-controlled union, made up of Pullman porters, who after years of unfair labor practices staged a battle against a corporate giant resulting in a "David and Goliath" ending.

Mare’s war / Tanita S. Davis.  2009.  Fic D2646m.  Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book, 2010.  Teens Octavia and Tali learn about strength, independence, and courage when they are forced to take a car trip with their grandmother, who tells about growing up Black in 1940s Alabama and serving in Europe during World War II as a member of the Women’s Army Corps.

Miracle’s boys / Jacqueline Woodson.  2000. Fic W898m.  Coretta Scott King Award.  Twelve-year-old Lafayette’s close relationship with his older brother Charlie changes after Charlie is released from a detention home and blames Lafayette for the death of their mother.

Maritcha: a nineteenth-century American girl / Tonya Bolden.  2005. 974.7100496073 B687m.  A biography of a remarkable black girl growing up in the mid-1800’s in Manhattan, N.Y.

The meaning
of Consuelo / Judith Ortiz Cofer.  2003.  2003 Americas Award. Fic O77mComing of age when American influence threatens to dilute the island’s traditional Spanish customs as well as to harm, perhaps irreparably, its fragile ecology, Consuelo watches her family and culture being torn asunder—much like the island itself.

Moccasin thunder: American Indian stories for today / Lori Marie Carlson.  2005. Fic M6873.   Presents ten short stories about contemporary Native American teens by members of tribes of the United States and Canada, including Louise Erdrich and Joseph Bruchac.

Muchacho: a novel / LouAnne Johnson.  2009.  Fic J679m.  Living in a neighborhood of drug dealers and gangs in New Mexico, high school junior Eddie Corazon, a juvenile delinquent-in-training, falls in love with a girl who inspires him to rethink his life and his choices.

Ninth Ward / by Jewell Parker Rhodes.   2010.  Fic R4764n.  Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book, 2011.   In New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, twelve-year-old Lanesha, who can see spirits, and her adopted grandmother have no choice but to stay and weather the storm as Hurricane Katrina bears down upon them.

Now is your time!: the African-American struggle for freedom / Walter Dean Myers.  1991.  973.0974 M996n.  Coretta Scott King Award.  A history of the African-American struggle for freedom and equality, beginning with the capture of Africans in 1619, continuing through the American Revolution, the Civil War, and into contemporary times.

One crazy summer / by Rita Williams-Garcia.  2010.  Fic W7232o.  2011 Coretta Scott King Award.  In the summer of 1968, after travelling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.

Our secret, Siri Aang / Cristina Kessler.  2004.  Fic K42417o.  Namelok, a Masai girl, tries to persuade her traditionalist father to delay her initiation and marriage because they will restrict her freedom and keep her from the black rhino mother and baby she is protecting from poachers.

The people could fly: American Black folktales / told by Virginia Hamilton; illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon.  1985. 398.208996073 H221p.  Coretta Scott King Award.   Retold Afro-American folktales of animals, fantasy, the supernatural, and desire for freedom, born of the sorrow of the slaves, but passed on in hope.

The rock and the river / Kekla Magoon.  2010.  Coretta Scott King Award.   Fic M2108r 2010.  In 1968 Chicago, fourteen-year-old Sam Childs is caught in a conflict between his father’s nonviolent approach to seeking civil rights for African Americans and his older brother, who has joined the Black Panther Party.

Roll of thunder, hear my cry / Mildred D. Taylor.  1976. Fic T2443r.  A black family living in the South during the 1930’s are faced with prejudice and discrimination which the children don’t understand.

Sadako / Eleanor Coerr.  1993.  920.72 S252cs.  Hospitalized with the dreaded atom bomb disease, leukemia, a child in Hiroshima races against time to fold one thousand paper cranes to verify the legend that by doing so a sick person will become healthy.

Sing down the moon / Scott O’Dell.  1970. Fic O23s.  A young Navaho girl recounts the events of 1864 when her tribe was forced to march to Fort Sumner as prisoners of the white soldiers.

Return to sender / Julia Alvarez.  2009.  Fic A473r.  After his family hires migrant Mexican workers to help save their Vermont farm from foreclosure, eleven-year-old Tyler befriends the oldest daughter, but when he discovers they may not be in the country legally, he realizes that real friendship knows no borders.

Revolution is not a dinner party: a novel / Ying Chang Compestine.   2007.  Fic C73742r.  Starting in 1972 when she is nine years old, Ling, the daughter of two doctors, struggles to make sense of the communists’ Cultural Revolution, which empties stores of food, homes of appliances deemed "bourgeois," and people of laughter.

 The revolution of Evelyn Serrano / Sonia Manzano.  2012.  Fic M2962r.  It is 1969 in Spanish Harlem, and fourteen-year-old Evelyn Serrano is trying hard to break free from her conservative Puerto Rican surroundings, but when her activist grandmother comes to stay and the neighborhood protests start, things get a lot more complicated--and dangerous.

Riot / Walter Dean Myers. 2009. Fic M9969ri.  In 1863, fifteen-year-old Claire, the daughter of an Irish mother and a black father, faces ugly truths and great danger when Irish immigrants, enraged by the Civil War and a federal draft, lash out against blacks and wealthy "swells" of New York City.

Rodzina / Karen Cushman.  2003.  Fic C9863r.  A twelve-year-old Polish American girl is boarded onto an orphan train in Chicago with fears about traveling to the West and a life of unpaid slavery.

Roll of thunder, hear my cry / Mildred D. Taylor. 1976. Fic T2443r, 1991.    A black family living in the South during the 1930’s is faced with prejudice and discrimination that the children don’t understand.

Romiette and Julio / Sharon M. Draper.  1999.  Fic D766r.  Romiette, an African-American girl, and Julio, a Hispanic boy, discover that they attend the same high school after falling in love on the Internet, but are harrassed [i. e. harassed] by a gang whose members object to their interracial dating.

Shabanu: daughter of the wind / by Suzanne Fisher Staples.  1989.  Fic S794s.  When eleven-year old Shabanu, the daughter of a nomad in the Cholistan Desert of present-day Pakistan, is pledged in marriage to an older man whose money will bring prestige to the family, she must either accept the decision, as is the custom, or risk the consequences of defying her father’s wishes.

The Shadows of Ghadames / Joelle Stolz.  2004.  Fic S876o.  At the end of the nineteenth century in Libya, eleven-year-old Malika simultaneously enjoys and feels constricted by the narrow world of women, but an injured stranger enters her home and disrupts the traditional order of things.

The shepherd’s granddaughter / Anne Laurel Carter.  2008.  Fic C3232s.  Amani longs to be a shepherd like her grandfather, Seedo. Like many Palestinians, her family has grazed sheep above the olive groves of the family homestead for generations, and she has been steeped in Seedo’s stories, especially one about a secret meadow called the Firdoos--and the wolf that once showed him the path there.

Sold / Patricia McCormick. 2006. Fic M1316s.  Thirteen-year-old Lakshmi leaves her poor mountain home in Nepal thinking that she is to work in the city as a maid only to find that she has been sold into the sex slave trade in India and that there is no hope of escape.

The surrender tree: poems of Cuba’s struggle for freedom / Margarita Engle.  2008.  811.54 E582s. Pura Belpré Award, 2009.  Cuba has fought three wars for independence, and still she is not free. This history in verse creates a lyrical portrait of Cuba.

The tequila worm / Viola Canales.  2005.  Fic C212t.  Sofia grows up in the close-knit community of the barrio in McAllen, Texas, then finds that her experiences as a scholarship student at an Episcopal boarding school in Austin only strengthen her ties to family and her "comadres.”

Tyrell / Coe Booth.  2006.  Fic B7252t.  Fifteen-year-old Tyrell, who is living in a Bronx homeless shelter with his spaced-out mother and his younger brother, tries to avoid temptation so he does not end up in jail like his father.

Under the blood-red sun / Graham Salisbury. 1994.  Fic S167u.  Tomikazu Nakaji’s biggest concerns are baseball, homework, and a local bully, until life with his Japanese family in Hawaii changes drastically after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

Under the mesquite / Guadalupe Garcia McCall.  2011. Fic M1222u.  Pura Belpré Author Award.   Throughout her high school years, as her mother battles cancer, Lupita takes on more responsibility for her house and seven younger siblings, while finding refuge in acting and writing poetry. Includes glossary of Spanish terms.

Under the persimmon tree / Suzanne Fisher Staples.  2005. Fic S794u.  During the 2001 Afghan War, the lives of Najmal, a young refugee from Kunduz, Afghanistan, and Nusrat, an American-Muslim teacher who is awaiting her huband’s return from Mazar-i-Sharif, intersect at a school in Peshawar, Pakistan.

When Heaven Fell / Carolyn Marsden.  2007.  Fic M364w.  When her grandmother reveals that the daughter that she had given up for adoption is coming from America to visit her Vietnamese family, nine-year-old Binh is convinced that her newly-discovered aunt is wealthy and will take care of all the family’s needs.


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