Book club: a refuge feels even less like home with its uncertain future

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June Yang thinks her recent streak of bad luck may never end. The father of the 11-year-old has died following a bicycle accident. For the next six months, her mother barely said a word. Then, after being off work for three weeks, her mother is fired and the family is evicted from her apartment. June, her 6-year-old sister, Maybelle, and her mother have to find other accommodation.

When June arrives at the Huey House with her family, she is confused. She puts on a brave and happy face for her little sister, but she doesn’t understand why the building has so many rules, like a curfew and guidelines on what they can and can’t have in their rooms. Turns out it’s because the Huey House isn’t an apartment building. It’s a homeless shelter.

The manager of the shelter, Mrs MacMillan, speaks harshly about the rules and seems very strict. To make matters worse, June’s most prized possession, her viola, is banned from her new home, like all instruments. However, the head of house security, Marcus, hides it so she can keep it.

June meets many people at the shelter who are kind and happy to help, including fellow residents Lula and Abuela, and the Director of Family Services, Mrs. Gonzalez.

Click here to join the Summer Reading Club

June also meets three-year-old resident Tyrell and his best friend, Jeremiah. They start off on the wrong foot, with June and Maybelle becoming the unwitting victims of one of Tyrell and Jeremiah’s well-known pranks. But June and Tyrell become good friends.

The two realize that something strange is going on at the Huey House. June sees a note on Mrs. MacMillan’s desk about moving families into new homes and asks her about it. The director does not answer. Then June and Tyrell overhear disturbing conversations about the future of the shelter and its residents. With June’s help, Tyrell is determined to figure out what will happen to the place that has been his home for so long.

In Katherine Applegate’s “Crenshaw” (age 8-12), Jackson and his family go through tough times again. They have run out of money and may have to live in their van. Jackson’s imaginary friend Crenshaw – a 7-foot-tall cat – comes back into his life. At first, Jackson tries to ignore this figment of his imagination, but then Jackson begins to listen to the cat’s wise words.

“Hold Fast” by Blue Balliett (ages 8-12) tells the story of Early after his father’s mysterious disappearance. As Early, her brother and mother realize that their father is in trouble and so are they, they must leave their apartment and move into a shelter in the city. Early begins to search for answers to her father’s disappearance, as she may be the only one who can solve this mystery.

Pilar Ramirez and Zafa’s flight

What happened to Mami’s cousin, Natasha, in the Dominican Republic 50 years ago? Twelve-year-old Pilar lives in modern-day Chicago, but she’s determined to find out the truth. Pilar is making a documentary about Natasha, who disappeared, like many others, during a brutal dictatorship. Fast forward a bit, and Pilar finds herself on a strange island full of fantastical creatures and demons from her abuela’s tales. Danger threatens, and even if Natasha is hidden here, how will Pilar ever find her – and her way back?

The summer reading club is open to children aged 6 to 14. They can read some or all of the books on our list. (Find a blurb for each book at wapo.st/kidspostbookclublaunch2022.) The first 700 kids to register will receive a notebook and pen. To join the club, children must be registered by a parent or guardian. To register, that adult must complete our form at wapo.st/kidspostbookclub2022. If you have any questions, contact [email protected]

Do you have a suggestion?

KidsPost Summer Reading Club 2022 is themed “Speaking Truth” and we’d love to hear about your favorite books that relate to this theme. Children ages 6-14 are eligible to participate; one entry per person. Ask a parent or guardian to fill out the top part of the form at http://wapo.st/kidspostYMAL and then share your suggestions by July 28. We can include your favorites in KidsPost. At the end of the summer, we will send a selection of books to three randomly chosen children who have sent in suggestions. Winners will be notified by August 30.

A reminder from the KidsPost team: Our stories are for ages 7-13. We welcome discussions from readers of all ages, but please follow our community guidelines and make comments appropriate for this age group.

About Elizabeth Smith

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