Posted on 3 January 2011 Monday

I had some time to kill last Friday and ventured over to Half Priced Books. What’s so great about this store is that not only can you get a really good deal on books, but you can find books that you would have otherwise missed.  I’m sharing my haul, some titles may be more familiar than others.

How Tia Lola Came to Visit Stay by Julia Alvarez (MG) When Miguel’s Tia Lola comes from the Dominican Republic to Vermont to help out his Mami, Miguel is worried that his unusual aunt will make it even more difficult to make new friends. It’s been hard enough moving from New York City and leaving Papi behind. Sometimes he wisher Tia Lola would go back to the island. But, then he wouldn’t have the treats she’s putting in his lunch box, which he’s sure helped him make the baseball team. And she really needs his help to learn English so she doesn’t use all the words she knows at once: “One-way-caution-you’re-welcome-thanks-for-asking.” So, Miguel changes his wish to a new one, and he finally even figures out a clever way to make it come true. (2001)

Seeing Emily by Joyce Lee Wong (YA) 16 year old Emily Wu is a good daughter, good student, good artist and good friend. She works hard at school and in the Chinese restaurant she helps her parents run. But her life, which once seemed as sweet as the bao zi dumplings she and her mother make together, now feels stifling. Just as her paintings transform a canvas, Emily wants to create a new self. Then, Nick, a sexy transfer student, asks her out. His kisses and the other girls’ envious glances give Emily a thrilling disconcerting new vision of herself, so different from the one she sees in the eyes of her parents and friends. Which Emily is the real Emily? This book, written in verse, was published in 2005.

Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac (YA) is a novel about the Navajo Marines of World War Two. The United States is at war, and sixteen year old Ned Begay wants to join the cause especially when he hears that Navajos are being specifically recruited by the Marine Corps. So he claims he’s old enough to enlist, breezes his way through boot camp and suddenly finds himself involved in a top-secret task, one that’s exclusively performed by Navajos. He has become a code talker. Now Ned must brave some of the heaviest fighting of the war, and with his native Navajo language as code, send crucial messages back and forth to aid in the conflict against Japan. His experiences in the Pacific from Guadalcanal to Iwo Jima and beyond will leave him forever changed.  (2005)

When the Black Girls Sings by Bil Wright. Lahni is the only Black girl at her private prep school. She’s also the adopted child of two loving, but white, parents who are on the road to divorce. When Lahni and her mother attend a local church one Sunday, Lahni hears the amazing gospel choir, and her life takes an unexpected turn. It so happens that one of Lahni’s teachers, Mr. Faringheilli, has nominated her for a talent competition, and she is expected to perform a song in front of the whole school. Lahni decided to join the church choir to help her become a better singer. But what starts out as a way to practice singing becomes a place of belonging and a means for Lahni to discover her own identity.  (2007)

The red rose box by Brenda Woods (MG; Coretta Scott King Award Honor Book) On her tenth birthday, Leah Hopper receives a surprise gift from glamorous Aunt Olivia, Mama’s only sister, who lives in Los Angeles. It is a red rose box. Not many people in 1953 Sulphur,Louisiana, have seen such a beautiful traveling case, covered with red roses, filled with jewelry, silk bedclothes, expensive soaps and train tickets to California. Soon Leah and her sister, Ruth, find themselves in Hollywood, far away from the cotton fields and Jim Crow laws of Sulphur. To Leah, California feels like freedom. But when disaster strikes back home, Leah and Ruth are forced to stay with Aunt Olivia permanently. Will freedom ever feel like home?

And finally, I got a beautiful hard bound edition of The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian which is cased in a brightly colored, thick cardboard sleeve. All it needs is Sherman Alexie’s signature. I hate to admit that not only do I not own this book, but I haven’t read it. Yet!

Pretty nice haul, don’t you think? All these blurbs appear on the covers of the books.

I still need to post my preliminary list of Asian Pacific American and African American core lists to get reader input, then I’ll post a final list of all the books.