Beneath the Wide Silk Sky; Very Good Hats, Frizzy

Under the vast silken sky by Emily Inoue Hoy; Scholastic Press, 336 pages ($18.99) Ages 12 and up.

This gripping debut novel, set on an island in Washington state and inspired by the author’s family’s experiences during World War II, offers an unforgettable portrait of a Japanese American girl with big dreams who overcomes poverty. , are faced with the harsh realities of prejudice and injustice. She was forcibly evicted from her home after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The novel follows high school sophomore Samantha Sakumoto on December 4, 1941, cleaning the chicken house on her family’s struggling farm. Still grieving her mother’s recent death from cancer, Samantha is acutely aware of her family’s dire financial situation and her own limited options even as she turns her love of photography into a career and travels the world. to do Her older brother Charlie had to put his college plans on hold to work at the local brickyard to help support his family. Her older sister, Kiki, hangs out with famous people, dates a white boy and works as a seamstress to earn money.

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Sam has a secret crush on classmate Beau, the son of a racist local store owner who stands to get the Sakumotos’ farm back if they just miss paying the mortgage. Beau tells her about a photo contest with a $50 prize and encourages her to enter. “Stop making yourself so small.” While trying to find an aerial perch to take a prize-winning photo, Sam falls from a tree into a farm pond and Hero, the old boy who lives next door, comes to her rescue.

As anti-Japanese rhetoric heated up after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the prejudice against the family always came under open attack. And then the capture begins. The author vividly portrays the toxic atmosphere of suspicion and the long-term residents’ feelings of fear and mistrust from their neighbors as enemies.

The author is the daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter of Japanese Americans who were interned during World War II. Her grandparents were evicted from their homes and farms in California and Washington.

Very nice hat by Emma Straub, illustrated by Blanca Gomez; Rocky Pond Books/Penguin Imprint ($18.99) January 10 release.

Novelist Emma Strobe debuts her picture book with this wonderful, funny, imaginative story that explores the wild possibilities of what a hat is. Perfect, fun illustrations, including paper collages, by Blanca Gomez, who lives in Spain.

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Strobe starts: “Some people think hats are fancy things you can buy in a haberdashery, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.Fingers can wear hats, kneecaps, raspberries, chewing gum, tortellini, doll shoes. The hat could be an empty powder cup, a cat, a rabbit, or even a hardcover book, but only “if you’re in good shape.” A two-page spread is devoted to the hat that “comes with the job”; one in the photo. There are pirates, a cook, a fireman, an astronaut and a queen’s guard with a black helmet. Straub writes “. At the baseball stadium, the hats are filled with ice cream” and “If you’re on a plane, you’ll wear a cloud.”

cough by Claribel A. Ortega, art by Rose Bosmera; First/Second ($21.99) Ages 8 to 12.

A girl rebels against her mother’s determined campaign to straighten her frizzy locks in this fun and inspiring graphic novel that celebrates the fact that all hair is “good hair.”

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Claribal A. Ortega’s vivid dialogue and Rose Bosmera’s stunning illustrations bring Marlene to vivid life, with our first glimpse of her emerging from a shampoo bag during her compulsive weekly trip to the salon as she gets her Cousin prepares for the quinceañera: “It’s not my cousin’s fault, but I’m crazy about having her.”

Her mother and other relatives all send the message that Marilyn, with her “unruly” hair and charming manner, must be like her cousin, “how feminine and beautiful” with her long, blonde and full hair. Rescue comes in the form of an aunt, who has learned the tricks of cultivating her beautiful curves and shows Marlene how to do the same. With the support of her aunt and her best friend, Marilyn finds the courage to finally trust her mother that she wants to be herself.

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