True Migrant Stories for Tween Readers

image of girl with black hair and glasses in jean jacket giving thumbs up inside green circle. box underneath reads Miss Mahee's Booklist. light blue background around white.
Booklists for you

Hi everyone, the post this week is another booklist featuring a short-ish list of titles. My selection for you this week are four tales based on true events that happened to either the author directly or an ancestor of the author. So, if you have been waiting for such a list, then what are you waiting for…press the button below…

image of sea and ship sailing towards city on shore. blue letters across sea in dark blue read Letters from Cuba. top edge has pinkish sky, red explosion shape and grey shape on top left corner. city o shore has colourful buildings and palm trees.
A lovely story

My first title, Letters from Cuba by Ruth Behar, takes readers to the days just before the Second World War. Told in the form of letters written to her sister, Esther’s story of life in Cuba during this time shows both a fascinating and heartwarming account. I liked the quiet strength and courage Esther showed as she helped her father in the rural community of Agramente. What I loved the most, apart from the colourful cast of characters, was the diversity of cultures that made up Cuban life. From the African Cubans descended from the slaves to those who immigrated from European and Asian countries, the cultures are varied and multilayered. This amazing read shows the resilience of the human spirit in the most challenging of times and is actually inspired by Ruth Behar’s own grandmother Esther’s immigrant story to Cuba!! You will find epistolary reads like these have a way of describing historical accounts better than those in narrative form.

image of two small African boys walking together at night among tents. sky is purple and pink with lights of stars around. large letters in blue at top read When Stars Are Scattered.
A poignant read

This next read, When stars are scattered by Victoria Jamieson & Omar Mohammed, gives a powerful and evocative graphic novel describing the life of two brothers in a refugee camp in Kenya. Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. This story transported me to an Africa I never knew. The plight of young Omar and his brother Hassan is documented exquisitely in this graphic novel by Victoria Jamieson in a way that is easy for young readers to understand. Seeing Omar actually grow up and finally achieve his dream of leaving for the US and becoming a social worker brought tears to my eyes. Getting to know from both notes at the back the reality of these two remarkable people was eye-opening. I liked how the Important themes of displacement, refugee life, education and education for girls were expertly woven together into this graphic read!! 

image of young girl in silhouette holding onto tree. sky and background looks purple and blue. letters in black along right side reads Inside Out & Back Again. two seals on top indicating National Book Award winner and Newbery Honor book.
An engaging read

This next title, Inside out and back again by Thanha Lai, is a novel that is told entirely in verse. It tells the story of a young girl, Ha, and her family’s journey across the ocean as they flee the ravages of the Vietnam War as Saigon falls. This moving story is filled with all that changes for Ha in a year and it’s told in a lyrical voice showing not just heartbreak, but also that of her courage and resilience. I really enjoyed the imagery the poetry created and it was actually one of the first books in verse I read!!  I hope you fall in love with this as I did with this award-winning story!! This was loosely based on what the author experienced on her own journey as a child during the 1970’s. 

cover image of houses on left side. girl sitting on roof of bigger house. warships on sea approaching houses with yellow sky. white letters on blue sea reads I lived on Butterfly Hill.
An interesting read

My last selection is I lived on Butterfly Hill, which was written by Marjorie Agosin, illustrated by Lee White, and translated in English by E. M. O’Connor. This historical story takes readers to Chile during the 1970’s when Pinochet seized power there. We meet eleven-year-old Celeste as she is sent thousands of miles away to the coast of Maine for her safety while her parents go into hiding. What follows is a poignant and heartwarming story of one girl’s courage as she faces an unknown future without her parents. To be honest I hadn’t known about this episode in Chile’s history until I read this book. The beautiful imagery and descriptive writing undertaken by Agosin allows us as a reader to connect with young Celeste and really feel for all that she experiences.  Award-winning poet Marjorie Agosin weaves together history, mysticism, and personal experience to tell this story of a country in peril as only someone who’d lived through it could. I enjoyed this story but I would recommend it for older readers.

I hope you enjoyed these true stories about the journeys these youngsters had to endure in their lives. If anyone has read any similar reads I would love to hear of your choices and what you thought of my selections. 

Stay safe and keep reading

Miss Mahee

four-grid box. top left tree and girl in silhouette with pink sky and black letters Inside Out. top right image of blue sea and colourful buildings along coast. dark blue letters on sea reads Letters from Cuba. bottom right image of two African boys walking under darkening sky with blue letters above them reading En Stars Are Scattered. bottom left image of green sea and corner of building. white letters on sea reads 'ived on Butterfly Hill.' brown circle in middle with black letters reads A selection of true migrant stories for tweens'.
A list of true stories for you

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