Pandemic follows children from Hong Kong to the United States


The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on children around the world. But what if you had to leave your home in Hong Kong because of the outbreak and move to San Francisco only to find he had followed you there?

In New from here (Simon & Schuster, 361 pages, $23, hardcover) Kelly Yang, based on her own family’s story, describes how three children, Bowen (15), Knox (10) and Lea (6), struggle to adapt to a new reality that does not always accept Asians.

From Knox’s perspective, the family learns to work together after their father has to stay and their mother loses her job. Sometimes the results are hilarious, like when kids order dinosaur costumes to protect them from COVID-19 while delivering Chinese takeout on their bikes. It’s a story of coping with pressure, learning to get along with siblings, and the power of family love. Highly recommended for ages 8-12.

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Missy is a 6th grader who is caught in her loyalties between her jazz-loving but mentally unbalanced father and her artist mother. In These are not the words (Groundwood, 216 pages, hardcover, $19) Brooke Valley, Ont., author Amanda West Lewis tells Missy’s story in a mix of poetry and restrained prose.

Set in New York in the 1960s, as her mother tries to protect Missy from her father’s violent outbursts, Missy loves hanging out with him at night to visit jazz clubs in Harlem. Things go awry when Missy has to take a cab home alone in the middle of the night.

Lewis, author of seven children’s books, is the wife of famous writer Tim Wynne-Jones. Intended for 9-12 year olds.

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Glenn Gould was an undisputed musical prodigy, but in As Glenn as can be (Groundwood, 40 pages, $20, hardcover), by established British Columbia author Sarah Ellis, he is revealed to be a nature lover, a loner who hated school but loved playing the piano so much that he was to be limited to four hours a day.

Ellis describes how Glenn only found peace and satisfaction when he was able to record his game in a studio without an audience. Additional information and resources about Gould’s life are provided in the final pages.

Vancouver artist Nancy Vo’s illustrations have a darker quality that seems to match the person whose life they reveal. For ages 5-9.

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Winnipeg author Maureen Fergus has signed her picture book Petal the angry cow (Tundra, 40 pages, $22, hardcover) “to Sophie in honor of your wonderful and hilarious childhood temper.” This will resonate with any parent who has dealt with a child having unexpected tantrums.

Petal is a cow that is not unaware of teasing, slights or accidents. She reacts furiously, until a swan shows her how very unappealing such a reaction can be. As Petal learns to control his temper, young readers may learn that sweet words are better than angry outbursts.

Fergus is the author of buddy and earl series and won the Canadian Children’s Book Center Book of the Year Award for The day dad joined my football team (2018). The works of Russian illustrator Olga Demidova are large and full of humor.

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Fly (Atheneum, 40 pages, $23, hardcover), by Pittsburgh author Brittany J. Thurman, is about a baby girl called Africa, named after the birthmark on her cheek. She is ready to face all obstacles.

When she learns that there is a contest to jump double Dutch, she enthusiastically joins, despite having never attempted it before. After all, she can jump, she can dance, she can somersault. She can almost fly!

Brazilian artist Anna Cunha added full-page illustrations that reflect the exuberant quality of Anna’s personality. For 4-8 year olds.

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Helen Norrie is a former teaching librarian who also found double Dutch difficult.

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