Happy Marvelous Middle Grade Monday!
In just two days the Cybil’s awards will be announced. I was honored to be on the five member judging panel for Middle Grade Fiction. I’ve now read all seven nominees. Last year I reviewed five of the seven (Armstrong & Charlie, Restart, Refugee, The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora, and Caleb & Kit). Next week I’ll post a review of INSIGNIFICANT EVENT IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS and today is the other selection I recently finished—AMINA’S VOICE.
Be sure to stay tuned for Wednesday’s big announcement.
Amina’s Voice is a rather quiet story that makes a big noise. It will have you thinking about other cultures/traditions and how they differ from your own. Most of all it weaves a tale of acceptance for everyone no matter their beliefs or religion choice.
Amina (Ah min Ah) is a Pakistani-American girl who tells her story of life as a sixth grader in a middle school and the life she has at home in a Milwaukee Muslim community. Her best friend is Korean and their friendship is tested when another girl becomes a part of their group. Amina likes to stay in the background, especially when in front of an audience. She’s been in the states for most of her life so she shares many of the likes kids her age have. The Voice is her favorite TV program and although she herself has a beautiful voice, she has never felt confident enough to sing out on stage.
When her uncle comes for a visit, Amina struggles with the American she has become and the Muslim traditions her family surrounds her with. She tries to balance both. The result is a story that won’t have you laughing, but it does give you a deep sense of what life is like in middle school and a much bigger appreciation for other cultures.
Overall, it’s a celebration of diversity and togetherness.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2017 PAGE COUNT: 208
FULL PLOT (From AMAZON)
Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.
Amina’s Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani American and highlights the many ways in which one girl’s voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: AMINA’S VOICE
- The spot on relationship between Amina and her older brother. She can’t understand how this kid she used to know can be changing so quick.
- Being a twelve year old is not easy these days. It’s often a time of constant worry. We need stories like this one that will ring familiar and support this age group.
- Togetherness and community—exactly what is celebrated on the pages.
- Oh man! The food is everywhere in this story. It had my stomach hungry again after I’d just finished a meal. I do hope to try some of these delicious sounding dishes in my culinary future.
- The destructive act of Islamophobia serves to bring together a stronger community. Hurray!
Uh-Oh! I turn my head back toward Mama to see if she is paying attention, but she is still looking at the Quran. I think back to my moment of panic when my voice left me stranded during the second-grade play. If I couldn’t manage to speak English, which I’m fluent in, on a stage, how would I possibly make our Arabic words in my pathetic accent?
A FINAL THOUGHT FROM THE AUTHOR, HENA KHAN (For the full essay, visit her author web site) :
…I’m still hopeful that a book like mine will help to start important conversations when we need them more than ever. I hope reading about Amina, and seeing her as a friend, will help foster compassion and tolerance among children of all backgrounds and faiths. And I hope that stories like hers, will help create a generation of kids that will vaguely remember the events of today in the future and wonder how it was ever possible. Please consider reading Amina’s Voice and sharing it with the children in your life. Thank you.