Book Club: A shelter feels even less like home with its uncertain future



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June Yang thinks her recent string of bad luck may never end. The 11-year-old’s dad died because of a biking accident. In the six months since then, her mom has barely spoken a word. Then, after missing work for three weeks, her mom is fired and the family is evicted from their apartment. June, her 6-year-old sister, Maybelle, and her mom must find another place to live.

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 apartment building has so many rules, such as a curfew and guidelines on what they can and cannot have in their rooms. Turns out it’s because the Huey House is not an apartment building. It’s a homeless shelter.

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

June meets a lot of people at the shelter who are kind and happy to help, including fellow residents Lula and Abuela, and the family services director, Ms. Gonzalez.

Click here to join the Summer Book Club

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

The two realize that something odd is going on at the Huey House. June sees a memo on Ms. MacMillan’s desk about moving families into new homes and asks her about it. The director doesn’t respond. Then June and Tyrell overhear worrying conversations about the future of the shelter and its residents. With June’s help, Tyrell is determined to figure out what’s going to happen to the place that’s been his home for so long.

In Katherine Applegate’s “Crenshaw” (ages 8 to 12), Jackson and his family are going through rough times again. They’ve run out of money and may have to live in their minivan. Jackson’s imaginary friend, Crenshaw — a 7-foot-tall cat — comes back into his life. At first, Jackson tries to ignore this product of his imagination, but then Jackson begins listening to the cat’s wise words.

Hold Fast” by Blue Balliett (ages 8 to 12) tells the story of Early after her dad mysteriously disappears. As Early, her brother and mom realize their dad is in trouble and so are they, they have to leave their apartment and move into a city shelter. Early begins looking for answers to her father’s disappearance, because she might be the only one who can solve this mystery.

Pilar Ramirez and the Escape From Zafa

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 ferret 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 fantasy creatures and demons from her abuela’s tales. Danger looms, and even if Natasha is hidden here, how can Pilar ever find her — and the way home?

The Summer Book Club is open to kids ages 6 to 14. They may read some or all of the books on our list. (Find a blurb for each book at wapo.st/kidspostbookclublaunch2022.) The first 700 kids registered will receive a notebook and pen. To join the club, children must be registered by a parent or guardian. To register, that adult must fill out our form at wapo.st/kidspostbookclub2022. If you have questions, contact kidspost@washpost.com.

Do you have a suggestion?

The 2022 KidsPost Summer Book Club has the theme “Speaking Truth,” and we would like to know your favorite books that relate to the theme. Kids ages 6 to 14 are eligible to participate; one entry per person. Have a parent or guardian fill out the top part of the form at http://wapo.st/kidspostYMAL and then share your suggestions by July 28. We may include your favorites in KidsPost. At the end of the summer, we will send a selection of books to three randomly selected kids who sent in suggestions. Winners will be notified by August 30.

A reminder from the KidsPost team: Our stories are geared to 7- to 13-year-olds. We welcome discussion from readers of all ages, but please follow our community rules and make comments appropriate for that age group.



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