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|Wonder of wildflowers|
Author: Staniszewski, Anna
In Amberland, where natives rely on a dwindling supply of magical fluid and foreigners are unwelcome, ten-year-old Mira juggles her loyalty to her immigrant roots and her desire for acceptance.
Kirkus Reviews (12/01/19)
School Library Journal (01/01/20)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (A) (00/02/20)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 12/01/2019 Mira’s family has lived in Amberland for five years, waiting to become citizens and gain access to Amber, a magical liquid that makes normal people extraordinary and prevents illness. While Mira wants only to be like everybody else, her classmate Daniel doesn’t even try to fit in. When she discovers how sick his little brother is, she realizes that Amber should be saved for those who truly need it. Meanwhile, the precious substance begins to grow scarce, leading to public protests, with citizens demanding that immigrants return to their countries and stop using up the local supply. Mira’s story, told through intimate first-person narration, flows easily. Young readers will enjoy watching her self-realization bloom—like a lovely wildflower—as she comes to learn who she is without Amber and realizes that she never needed it at all. The futuristic setting presents a cautionary element through strong parallels to our own reality. A strong middle-grade novel recommended for all libraries. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 01/01/2020 Gr 4–6—Staniszewki's latest tween novel combines magical realism with current events in a gentle yet empowering story. Mila and her family have moved to Amberland, a country named after its magical natural resource, amber. As non-natives, they are not permitted to use this powerful liquid that fends off illnesses and enhances abilities. Navigating the fifth grade is hard enough but being an outsider makes everything worse. When a sudden nationwide amber shortage threatens the community, Mila's family and other immigrants face harassment and even violence. Mila is relying on her citizenship paperwork to come through, but will that be enough to be accepted in her class as an equal? The story rings true in how it approaches the "us vs them" mentality of extreme nationalism. Although some allegories are pretty on-the-nose, Mila navigates desperately wanting to be "normal" like a 10 year old would. In a nation currently divided by different messages regarding immigration, Staniszewski (an immigrant herself) does a great job at portraying a vulnerable character who finds her strength and eventually faces her tormentors. Readers will feel proud of Mila for speaking up and standing up for what's right. VERDICT Useful for schools and classrooms where social justice is widely discussed. A strong purchase for upper elementary and middle school collections.—Carol Youssif, Taipei American School, Taiwan - Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.