Bound To Stay Bound

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School Library Journal - 08/01/2016 Gr 3–6—Bilal's 10th birthday doesn't go as he planned: after his father encounters some trouble at work, Bilal, his siblings, and his mother get visas to live with their family in Virginia while Bilal's father stays on in Pakistan for the time being. Immediately upon arriving in America, Bilal notices that some things are the same—familiar Pakistani foods and Muslim customs—yet other things are startlingly different. The English Bilal learned in Karachi seems different from the language spoken by everyone around him. Bilal, an excellent cricket player, is dismayed to learn that Americans play baseball. He begins to make friends during summer baseball camp, yet not everything works out well. Bilal doesn't quite understand why his teammates are so mad that a girl has made their team, he is embarrassed by his baseball abilities and need for ESL classes at school, and he misses Pakistan and, above all, his father. Lorenzi weaves a coherent narrative that includes many issues a new immigrant, as well as any fifth grader, might encounter. The author avoids stereotypes and inspires empathy for Bilal; it is clear Lorenzi has infused this tale with what she's learned as an ESL specialist and also done her research to ensure an accurate portrayal of the life of a young Pakistani immigrant. VERDICT Add this title to your shelves, and pitch it to kids who like sports stories and moving realistic novels.—Amy Koester, Learning Experiences Department, Skokie Public Library, IL - Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.

Booklist - 09/01/2016 When 10-year-old Bilal moves from Pakistan to Virginia, it’s not just his favorite sport—cricket—that he misses but also his much beloved father, who had to temporarily stay behind. His older cousin suggests Bilal join the baseball team in order to make new friends and learn English, but baseball isn’t anything like cricket! To make matters worse, there’s a girl on the team who’s better than everyone, drawing the team’s wrath, but Bilal actually likes her. How can he adjust to a new sport, a new language, and a new culture while waiting for his dad to join the family? This sensitive middle-grade novel is an excellent introduction to cricket, culture shock, and what life may be like for some recent immigrants. Bilal’s diverse friends are somewhat refreshingly more concerned with the fact that there’s a girl on their team than his heritage. Although the ending is predictable, for fans of Firoozeh Dumas’ It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel (2016) and readers looking for a sports book with heart, this will be a home run. - Copyright 2016 Booklist.

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