We Dream of Space

As the nation anxiously awaits the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger, the Thomas siblings explore complicated galaxies of their own: life in a tense and crowded house in Park, Delaware; unrequited first crushes; and the pressures of fitting in and finding their place in the world. Smart and responsible Bernadette, known as “Bird,” aspires to be the first female space shuttle commander for NASA. Her twin brother, Fitch, struggles with an explosive temper that he doesn’t understand. And their older brother Cash is in danger of failing seventh grade, again.
The novel is set during the month of January 1986, but its themes remind us that some struggles are timeless.
 

 

Lalani of the Distant Sea

Junior Library Guild Selection (2019), Best of 2019: BookPage, School Library Journal, New York Public Library, Horn Book, Booklist, and others.

There are stories of extraordinary children who are chosen from birth to complete great quests and conquer evil villains.
This is no such story.
Sometimes, you are an ordinary child.
Sometimes, you have to choose yourself.
Twelve-year-old Lalani Sarita lives on the island of Sanlagita in the shadow of a vengeful mountain. When she makes a fateful wish that endangers her already-vulnerable village, she sets out across the distant sea in search of life’s good fortunes. Grown men have died making the same journey. What hope does an ordinary girl have?

 

You Go First

South Carolina Book Award Nominee for Junior Book (2020), Bluestem Book Award Nominee (2020), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Middle Grade & Children’s (2018), Junior Library Guild Selection (2019)

Twelve-year-old Charlotte Lockard and eleven-year-old Ben Boxer are separated by more than a thousand miles. On the surface, their lives seem vastly different—Charlotte lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while Ben is in the small town of Lanester, Louisiana. Charlotte wants to be a geologist and keeps a rock collection in her room. Ben is obsessed with Harry Potter, presidential history, and recycling. But the two have more in common than they think. They’re both highly gifted. They’re both experiencing family turmoil. And they both sit alone at lunch.
Over the course of a week, Charlotte and Ben—online friends connected only by a Scrabble game—will intersect in unexpected ways as they struggle to navigate the turmoil of middle school. You Go First reminds us that no matter how hard it is to keep our heads above troubled water, we never struggle alone.
 

 

Hello, Universe

Winner of the Newbery Medal (2018), Texas Bluebonnet Award Nominee (2019), Junior Library Guild Selection (2018), Best of 2018: BookPage, Booklist, School Library Journal, New York Public Library, and others.

In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways.
Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his loud and boisterous family. Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely. Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister Gen is always following her around. And Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just act normal so that he can concentrate on basketball.
They aren’t friends — at least not until Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well. This disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find the missing Virgil. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms.
 

 

The Land of Forgotten Girls

Winner of the APALA Award for Children’s Literature (2017), Junior Library Guild Selection (2017), Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award Nominee (2018)

Two sisters from the Philippines, abandoned by their father and living in impoverished circumstances in Louisiana, fight to make their lives better.
Soledad has always been able to escape into the stories she creates. Just like her mother always could. And Soledad has needed that escape more than ever in the five years since her mother and sister died and her father moved Sol and her youngest sister from the Philippines to Louisiana. Then he left, and all Sol and Ming have now is their evil stepmother, Vea. Sol has protected Ming all this time, but then Ming begins to believe that Auntie Jove—their mythical, world-traveling aunt—is really going to come rescue them. Have Sol’s stories done more harm than good? Can she protect Ming from this impossible hope?
 

 

Blackbird Fly

SCBWI Golden Kite Award, Cybils Award Nominee (2015), Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature for Children Honor (2015), Best Children’s Books of the Year (2015), Junior Library Guild Selection (2015)

Apple has always felt a little different from her classmates. She and her mother moved to Louisiana from the Philippines when she was little, and her mother still cooks Filipino foods, makes mistakes with her English, and chastises Apple for becoming “too American.” It becomes unbearable in middle school, when the boys—the stupid, stupid boys—in Apple’s class put her name on the Dog Log, the list of the most unpopular girls in school.
When Apple’s friends turn on her and everything about her life starts to seem weird and embarrassing, Apple turns to music. If she can just save enough to buy a guitar and learn to play, maybe she can change herself. It might be the music that saves her . . . or it might be her two new friends, who show how special she really is.