Pandemic follows Hong Kong kids to US

The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on children everywhere. But what if you had to leave your home in Hong Kong because of the outbreak and relocate in San Francisco only to discover it 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 fit into a new reality that does not always accept Asian people.

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

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Missy is a Grade 6 student who is caught in her loyalties between her jazz-loving but mentally unbalanced father and her artistic 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 mixture of poetry and restricted prose.

Set in New York City in the 1960s, while her mother tries to protect Missy from her father’s violent outbursts, Missy loves stealing away with him at night to visit jazz clubs in Harlem. Things come to a head when Missy has to take a taxi home alone in the middle of the night.

Lewis, author of seven young person’s books, is the wife of well-known writer Tim Wynne-Jones. Aimed at 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’s revealed as a nature lover, a loner who hated school but loved playing the piano so much he had to be limited to four hours a day.

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

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

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Winnipeg author Maureen Fergus has dedicated her picture book Petal the Angry Cow (Tundra, 40 pages, $ 22, hardcover) “to Sophie in honor of your wonderful, hilarious childhood temper.” It will resonate with any parent who has dealt with a child who has unexpected meltdowns.

Petal is a cow who does not ignore teasing, or minor slights or accidents. She reacts with fury, until a swan shows her how very unattractive such a reaction can be. As Petal learns to control her temper young readers may learn that soft words are better than angry outbursts.

Fergus is the author of the Buddy and Earl series and won the Canadian Children’s Book Center Book of the Year Award for The Day Dad Joined My Soccer Team (2018). Russian illustrator Olga Demidova’s artwork is large and humorous.

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

When she hears there is a contest on skipping double-Dutch she joins eagerly, despite never having attempted it before. After all, she can jump, she can dance, she can somersault. She can almost fly!

Brazilian artist Anna Cunha has added full-page illustrations that catch the exuberant quality of Anna’s personality. For ages 4-8.

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Helen Norrie is a former teacher librarian who also found double-Dutch challenging.

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