Welcome to the monthly children’s book review feature with a focus on diverse books here at Bird Meets Worm! My team of reviewers—Cara Chow, Denise Holmes, Joan Charles, Sharon Calle—and I are so excited to be championing books celebrating everything from gender diversity, people of color, the LGBTQ community to ethnic, cultural and religious minorities, people with disabilities and developmental challenges to controversial topics, unique family situations and anything and everything I did not include. It is to say we take a rightfully board view of diversity! We aim to shine a light on books that bring both familiar experiences to those who do not often see themselves represented in books and new experiences to those looking to expand their worldview. Here at Bird Meets Worm we believe in the power of story to build empathy and thus a better world for you and me and everyone. Look for a new review on the second Wednesday of every month. (PS You may have noticed that today is Thursday! Apologizes from Bird Meets Worm—Super Jane seems to be on a summertime one day delay this month!)
By Erin Entrada Kelly • Cover Illustration by Betsy Peterschmidt
Middle Grade Fiction (ages 8-12) • 304 pages
Published by Greenwillow Books • 2015
As the only Filipina in her school, Apple Yengko is used to being the outsider. Ever since a “fishy” incident with a schoolmate back in the 4th grade, she’s learned to cope with being different by putting her life in compartments - school, friends, and home are each packed neatly into their own separate boxes.
But now that she’s entered the 8th grade, her carefully constructed world is starting to come apart. Her best friends are acting weird. Her mother won’t let her study music, let alone buy a guitar. Worst of all, she’s just found out her name is on the notorious Dog Log, a not-so-secret list of the ugliest girls in school.
Luckily, Apple has her talisman—a Beatles tape that belonged to her late father. Even in the toughest times she’s able to turn to music for comfort and inspiration. The songs have become the soundtrack of Apple’s life and fuel her burning desire to be a rock musician.
Funny, wise, and sharply observant, Blackbird Fly follows Apple as she struggles with the pains and joys of growing up. Along the way she learns about true friendship, family, and finding her own special place in the world.
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Reviewed by: Joan Charles