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First Crossings

From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up–Covering a wide range of cultural and economical backgrounds, these stories by 11 well-known authors touch on a variety of teen experiences, with enough attitude and heartfelt angst to speak to young adults anywhere. In Pam Muñoz Ryan's "First Crossing," a boy experiences the risks of being smuggled across the Mexican border. Marie G. Lee's "The Rose of Sharon" describes a spoiled girl's animosity toward her adoptive parents and her desire to return to Korea to find her birth family. In Jean Davies Okimoto's "My Favorite Chaperone," an immigrant from Kazakhstan describes her relationship with her conservative parents, who rely on her to translate for them but still limit her freedom. Many of the stories open with a brief description of the country the family is leaving, or the lifestyle they flee; details that set a foundation for the teens' achievements and relationships. There's the chronic irony of children shrugging off anchors from their homeland while laden with guilt to respect the traditions that their parents cling to; they're caught in a conflict of change, assuming responsibility while remaining obediently subordinate. These selections will provide teachers with a wealth of material to use in multicultural literature units.–Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY
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From Booklist
Gr. 7-10. The contemporary teen immigrants in Gallo's newest story collection hail from a mix of countries--Cambodia, Haiti, Kazakhstan, Mexico, South Korea--reflective of current immigration trends. Among the 10 stories, readers will encounter teens who have left homelands behind for reasons not so different from those of earlier generations; others' circumstances are more distinctly modern, such as the Korean-born girl adopted by white parents and the Swedish teen uprooted from his home by his father's globetrotting career. Overtly tolerance-promoting tales are well balanced with irreverent ones: Lensey Namioka reflects on Chinese etiquette and David Lubar takes a comic look at a Transylvanian immigrant who finds unexpected friends among his school's vampire-obsessed Goths. Newly transplanted teens will find the voices represented in this collection far more relevant than those echoing forth from the huddled masses of Ellis Island, and American-born readers will gain insight from the palpable depictions of what it's like to be thrust into "the middle of a game where [you] don't know the players, the rules, or even the object." Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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