The Bronx

New York City has to be one of the greatest places in America, if not the world. Luckily for us, many authors have chronicled The Big Apple's antics in a way just right for kids.

Here are some of the books available. This is not yet a complete list, but I'm adding books to the list daily. If you wish to purchase any of these books, click on either the title or the book cover to be directed to As a warning, I have put up pictures of the book covers to give you somewhat an idea of the style of each book (I know, I know. "Don't judge a book by its cover") so the pages may load slowly, depending on the speed of your internet connection.

The categories below are sorted by approximate age group and topical categories. Feel free to browse around. The same links are located on the left side of your screen. To return back to this page, simply click on the "Welcome" link on the left.

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Other Pages of Interest:
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Books for Beginning Readers

The Babe & I

By David A. Adler
"For my birthday I was hoping my parents would give me a bicycle. They only gave me a dime."

So begins David Adler's inspired tale of the challenges and magic--yes, magic--of a depression-era childhood spent in the Bronx, New York. Disappointed, but not surprised by his present, the young narrator in The Babe & I spends his birthday afternoon wandering neighborhood streets with his best friend Jacob, discussing--as always--the New York Yankees and the world's greatest baseball player, Babe Ruth. The boys may have little in the way of monetary goods, but they do live within walking distance of Yankee stadium. They get a special lift from their proximity to this golden team of graced athletes, even if they can never go inside the gate. On this day, however, the stakes are raised significantly when the narrator discovers a difficult, saddening secret about his father. In response, he decides to join Jacob and become a newspaper boy--a decision that helps his family through these tough years and leads the narrator into the best, most unbelievable encounter of his life--better than any bike or birthday or anything.

Adler's honest, vivid reflection of 1930s life is perfectly complemented by Terry Widener's evocative, earth-toned illustrations. Reminiscent of WPA murals, Widener's images help Adler transport the reader to another time and place in a symbiotic pairing that makes this tender book a true work of art.

Description from

Adler (Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man) sets his fictional story during the week of July 14, 1932, in the Bronx, when the news items that figure in this tale happened. A boy gets a dime for his birthday, instead of the bicycle he longs for, because it is the Great Depression, and everyone who lives in his neighborhood is poor. While helping his friend Jacob sell newspapers, he discovers that his own father, who leaves the house with a briefcase each day, is selling apples on Webster Avenue along with the other unemployed folk. Jacob takes the narrator to Yankee Stadium with the papers, and people don't want to hear about the Coney Island fire or the boy who stole so he could get something to eat in jail. They want to hear about Babe Ruth and his 25th homer. As days pass, the narrator keeps selling papers, until the astonishing day when Ruth himself buys a paper from the boy with a five-dollar bill and tells him to keep the change. The acrylic paintings bask in the glow of a storied time, where even row houses and the elevated train have a warm, solid presence. The stadium and Webster Avenue are monuments of memory rather than reality in a style that echoes Thomas Hart Benton's strong color and exaggerated figures.

Description from Kirkus Review

The team that brought us Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man (rev. 7/97) has homered again with this upbeat yet touching story set in 1932 during the Depression. The locale is the Bronx, where the more affluent buy tickets to see the great Babe Ruth perform his magic in Yankee Stadium, but where others, unemployed, sell apples on the sidewalk. The story begins when the young narrator, believing that his father is one of the lucky ones with a job, is disappointed to receive a dime, not the hoped-for bicycle, for his birthday. Later that day, he discovers the truth-that his father is one of the unemployed apple sellers, but ashamed to inform his family. With the help of his friend Jacob, the boy becomes a "newsie" to supplement the family income. He, too, tries to keep his occupation a secret, but when it is revealed, father and son develop a bond of understanding. Meanwhile, tutored by Jacob, the boy becomes proficient at selling papers, selecting the right headlines to entice customers. At Yankee Stadium, the appropriate focus is always the latest news about Babe Ruth-and one day, the Babe himself buys a paper with a five-dollar bill, enabling the two boys to see a real Yankee game. Terry Widener's illustrations are reminiscent of the regional murals of Thomas Hart yet are definitely his own, evoking the ambiance of the period without attempting a slavish imitation. Carefully paced, remarkable for its unified focus, this is the kind of book that makes you want to buy season tickets.

Description from Horn Book

My Dad's Baseball

By Ron Cohen
The appeal of both '50s nostalgia and baseball will make Cohen's first children's book a hit with Little Leaguers as well as their parents. After a yellowed baseball rolls out of a box in his mother's attic, a man tells his seven-year-old son exactly where it came from. "Some days stay in your mind forever, Max. June 4, 1955, is one of them," he explains. On that day, it develops, the boy's father went with his father and brother to Yankee Stadium to see his very first baseball game. An extended flashback presents the father as a youngster (a diehard Milwaukee Braves fan nonetheless thrilled to watch the likes of Mickey Mantle) attending a game between the Yanks and the Detroit Tigers. The big moment arrives when the boy grabs a ball that Yogi Berra has hit into the stands; when he has it autographed the next day, his Braves cap falls out of his pocket, but Berra lets him know that his allegiance to that team is okay ("You should always be who you are"). When the story returns to the present, the father gives the ball to his delighted son. There are no surprises or unexpected twists, just a thoroughly warm tale, simply told. Effectively grainy pastels ably depict the period and convey the timeless allure of baseball.

Description from Publishers Weekly

Stumbling upon an old, autographed baseball in a box in his mother's attic, a father relates to his seven-year-old son the story of how he got it. The man's first-person account describes his thoughts and feelings when, as a seven-year-old, he went to Yankee Stadium to see his first professional game. He is thrilled with the whole experience, but his day is made when he retrieves a ball hit by Yogi Berra. Arrangements are made to have it signed by Berra the following day, and the great catcher is amused to find out that the boy is really a Braves fan. Cohen's dark, grainy paintings adequately capture the surroundings of the story, but depict the subjects with rather surreal-looking facial expressions. The baseball players mentioned are legends, such as Mays, Mantle, and Mathews, and their names might not be familiar to the intended audience. Adults, on the other hand, might have their own memories sparked by the book's setting and style.

Description from School library Journal

It's become a kind of subgenre--baby boomers writing or illustrating picture books about being young baseball fans in the fifties, usually in New York. The audience is ostensibly the young fans of today, but, in fact, it's other boomers for whom names like Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Willie Mays will never lose their romance. You can almost hear the boomers' kids saying, "Oh, Dad, do we have to read that book about old-time baseball "again"? Every now and then, though, one of these nostalgic trips to Yankee Stadium or Ebbets Field turns out to be something more than boomer self-indulgence. First-time children's book author Cohen, a successful artist, avoids the pitfalls of the subgenre by remembering the importance of a story--unadulterated nostalgia isn't enough for an audience that missed the fifties by four decades. It's a simple story, to be sure: rummaging in the attic, Dad finds his old baseball autographed by Yogi Berra and tells his son the story of how he got it--the trip to Yankee Stadium for his first game, the home run that landed in his frightened hands, the meeting with Yogi, the irony of being a Milwaukee Braves fan living in enemy territory. Fortunately, the message, about sticking up for what you believe, is treated gently, the way a fleet outfielder sneaks up on a fly ball and then gathers it in with the softest of hands. Cohen's art is subtle, too, soft-focus paintings dominated by greens and browns (against which Dad's red-and-blue Braves hat stands out all the more), evoking both the hazy romance of memory and the homey comfort of a ballpark. This one's a keeper, for both boomers and their kids.

Description from Booklist

They Came from the Bronx: How the Buffalo Were Saved from Extinction

By Neil Waldman
His curiosity sparked by a childhood memory of hearing the Bronx Zoo's bison called "the Mother Herd," Waldman (Masada) here presents an articulate and informative volume recounting the animal's bittersweet history. The tale begins on an Oklahoma hilltop, where a Comanche boy asks his grandmother, "Tell me about the buffalo. What did they look like?" She assures him that he will soon see with his own eyes. From there the story unfolds in a series of scenes that flash between Oklahoma and turn-of-the-century New York City, where men load a herd of the creatures onto wagons and, eventually, onto a train headed back to the grandmother's hilltop, their "ancestral habitat." Throughout, the grandmother recounts to her grandson the glory days of the buffalo and their sad demise at the hands of white settlers. Waldman tracks the herd's progress as it crosses the country, drawing crowds of curious onlookers. He pairs his eloquent, sepia-toned watercolors--which have the look of old photographs--with black-and-white sketches, and subtly heightens the story's tension with the cinematic intersplicing of scenes. A historical note explains how 19th-century conservationists brought back the bison from the brink of extinction through the use of such seed herbs, and they're now thriving on protected ranges across the country.

Description from Publishers Weekly

This picture-book slice of America's natural history defies classification. Waldman begins with a brief memoir about childhood visits to the Bronx Zoo and his curiosity about its "Mother Herd" of American bison. The heart of the book is a fictionalized recounting of the delivery of 15 of these animals from the zoo to the plains of Oklahoma in 1907. Double-page spreads alternate with the thoughts of a waiting Comanche boy and his grandmother and a description of the beasts' journey by horse-drawn wagon and train. The book concludes with a historical note about this particular events and other efforts in the late 1800s and early 1900s to return the buffalo to the western plains. The watercolor-and-ink drawings, almost entirely in shades of sepia, give the book the look of an old album. Readers may sense from the writing that Waldman was taken by the story of those bison traveling from the city zoo to the vast plains and was forced, by lack of factual data remaining from those early days, to imagine the scene. He does this effectively in both text and illustration, which show signs of careful research into the period and locales. This title will work well as a read-aloud in studies of endangered species, westward expansion, and zoos. Desiree Webber's The Buffalo Train Ride is non-fiction for older readers.

Description from School Library Journal

Hannah and the Whistling Teakettle

By Mindy Warshaw Skolsky
Nostalgia and humor are savory ingredients in Skolsky's picture-book tale (adapted from a story in The Whistling Teakettle: And Other Stories About Hannah) starring the heroine of Love from Your Friend, Hannah. Here Hannah visits her grandparents, who own a candy store in the Bronx. Rendered in oil pastels, Palmisciano's (Last Licks: A Spaldeen Story) animated, brightly colored pictures credibly convey the 1930s setting and capture the affectionate bond between two generations. Before boarding the bus, Hannah deliberates over what gift to buy for her practical grandma, who routinely returns presents with the explanation, "Thank you very much, but it's not a necessity." The girl decides on a silver teakettle with a little red bird whistle on the end of its spout. While the woman initially reacts to the gift in her customary fashion, an unusual turn of events makes her change her mind. Skolsky conveys all the warmth between family members that permeate her other Hannah books, and the artwork only underscores their bond. Period details hark back to the days of leisurely afternoons at the soda fountain, while the characters' universal emotions make the illustrations accessible and familiar.

Description from Publishers Weekly

Hannah decides to travel all the way from the country to the Bronx to see her grandparents. It's her first time traveling alone. Even though her grandmother is notorious for refusing presents that are "not a necessity," Hannah brings her a special whistling teakettle. At first, Hannah's grandmother refuses the gift, insisting her old nonwhistling one works fine. However, after the whistling kettle saves Grandma, Hannah, and Grandma's candy store from robbers, Grandma decides to keep it because "Life is a necessity." This sweet, warm-hearted story of family life in 1930s New York is charmingly illustrated by Palmisciano in bright colors, with characters and settings having a fun, comic strip feel to them. Except for details such as hairstyles, clothing, and five-cent phone booths, the story is timeless.

Description from Booklist

It was almost impossible to buy a present for Hannah's grandmother. Whether the gift was a waffle iron or bedroom slippers, Grandma would always say the same thing: "Thank you very much, but it's not a necessity." What could Hannah bring her Bronx-dwelling, soda-fountain-owning grandmother that she wouldn't be forced to return? When she finds a bright silver whistling teakettle with a little red bird at the top, she thinks she's struck gold. After all, her Grandma and Grandpa's kettle is "so old it has bumps."

Hannah can't believe her ears when her grandmother deems the kettle a luxury item. But in an astonishing turn of events in which the piercing "E-e-e-e!" of the teakettle scares off some robbers, Hannah's gift turns out to be very necessary indeed. "'That little bird on the kettle maybe saved our life!' Hannah's grandmother had said. And life she said, was a necessity!" Young readers will love this story of the spirited young Hannah whose thoughtful gift ultimately saves the day. Diane Palmisciano's warm, winning, cartoonish illustrations are the perfect match for this charming, old-fashioned yet timeless story about a close-knit, loving family and what is really important.

Description from

Hannah's grandmother, a loving granny, but a hard case when it comes to accepting gifts, learns the pleasures and benefits of receiving in this story of expectations. Hannah is on a visit to her grandfolks and their soda fountain in the Bronx. She has brought along a whistling teapot as a present for her grandmother, who routinely returns most gifts as frivolous. That appears to be the fate of this one as well when grandma gives it the curse: "It's not a necessity." When Grandma's attention is distracted by a customer out front, Hannah takes the opportunity to put the kettle on the old stove and demonstrate that her grandma no longer need let her tea water boil silently away. Two strange men enter the shop and while one tries to distract Grandma, the other jimmies the pay phone. Next thing you know all chaos breaks loose as a high-pitched whistle cuts the air. Thinking its a police whistle, the robbers skedaddle. Grandma figures she'll keep the kettle after all: " `That little bird on the kettle maybe saved our life!' Hannah's grandmother had said. And life, she said, was a necessity." Palmisciano's (A Spaldeen Story) artwork is filled with little details that fix the time period as a gentler one: Grandmas sagging socks, Grandpas two-toned shoes, and the old-fashioned shop with its 20 cent sundaes. A charming story from a more innocent time.

Description from Kirkus Reviews

Cesar's Amazing Journey

By David Catrow
Can Cesar the tree frog find a warm home in the big city?

When Cesar the tree frog is forcibly removed from his home in the tropical wetlands, and relocated to the streets of New York City, he's in for the adventure of a lifetime. With B. Cider, a friendly spider, Cesar takes in the sights and sounds of the city, enjoying each glitzy moment as only a tree frog can--but soon our hero discovers that he's cold and that he misses his leaf. What's a poor tree frog to do?

With zany illustrations by David Catrow, Cesar's Amazing Journey will tickle the funny bone and have readers cheering for the little tree frog who finally finds the home he's been missing.

When the Florida palm tree he calls home is cut down and taken to New York, with him in it, a tree frog gets to experience life in the big city, but he is not happy until he finds a new home in the Bronx Zoo.

Description from Publisher

The Babe Ruth Ballet School

By Tim Shortt
Perhaps you don't remember Issy Archer, the last nine-year-old girl to play big-league baseball. Issy pitches for the 1923 Yankees, and her "soaking, sopping wet" spitball is unhittable. Issy's best buddy is Babe Ruth; they hang together after games, downing Fizzy Pink Soda and wolfing chili dogs. Despite her pitching talent, Issy dreams of being a ballet dancer, and eventually she retires from the game to dance ("When a girl turns 10, she needs to consider her future" ). Babe goes along with Issy's dancing, even joining her ballet class, but her retirement gives him a major-league bellyache. With the same sort of silly irreverence that drives fractured fairy tales, Shortt upends baseball history in uproarious fashion, slaying a few gender stereotypes along the way. His rambunctious illustrations are as delightful as his text: chunky, oversize figures dominate the colorful two-page spreads, cavorting about the ball field and the ballet studio with equal abandon. Even the youngest children will catch Shortt's contagious silliness: you don't need to know who Babe Ruth was to get a chortle out of the burly Bambino displaying his ballet technique before some befuddled sportswriters. Great fun for the picture-book crowd, young and old.

Description from Booklist

Ike and Mama and the Once-A-Year Suit

By Carol Snyder
It's the early 1900s, that time of the year again, time for the boys to get new suits, some for Passover, some for Easter. Ike's mother is the expert on how to get the most for their once-a-year suit. Mama, the acknowledged "best bargainer" in the Bronx, takes her ecumenical group of fourteen neighborhood boys on a shopping adventure.

Description from Publisher

Books for Older Readers

All-Of-A-Kind Family Uptown

By Sydney Taylor
Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, Gertie, and baby Charlie move with their parents from New York's lower East Side to the Bronx in this wonderful sequel. In this story, Ella's beau joins the army to fight for the cause in WWI. You briefly learn about how the city was coping with the war over seas and about more Jewish traditions. This story is an educational delight for all ages and should be reprinted for the next generation of readers.

Description from Customer Review


By Nicholasa Mohr

  • An NCSS-CBC Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies
  • A Child Study Children's Book Committee Children's Book of the Year

A vivid portrayal of a close-knit Hispanic community

Felita's parents promise she will love their new neighborhood. Only Abuelita, her grandmother, understands how much Felita will miss her old block, and her best friend Gigi. But her new neighbors taunt and tease Felita and her family because they are from Puerto Rico. First published twenty years ago, Felita's compelling story has resonance for kids today.

Desciption from Publisher

All for the Better: A Story of El Barrio

By Nicholas Mohr
All for the Better tells the story of how one caring person can make a difference. In 1933 the Great Depression had hit Puerto Rico as hard as it had hit the United States. Evelina Lopez, then 11, left her mother and sisters to live with an aunt in New York City. Her journey to Spanish Harlem, El Barrio, and the life that followed there make up this simple biography. When she learned that food packages were available to those who presented the proper forms, but that most of her neighbors were too ashamed to apply, she found a solution. From this early success, Evelina Lopez Antonetty became an activist on behalf of the Spanish community in New York, ultimately founding the United Bronx Parents Group. The language in this well-written biography is rich, flavored with Spanish words, and yet relatively easy to read. The black-and-white drawings scattered throughout highlight important details of the story. A worthy purchase.

Description from School Library Journal

This short and easy biography of Bronx community activist Evalina Lopez Antonetty focuses on the subject's childhood years of coming alone from Puerto Rico to New York during the Depression, adjusting to English and a new school,and successfully convincing and organizing her proud neighbors to accept foodfrom government programs. Kids will appreciate Evalina's various struggles, but the writing is a tad tepid and adulatory. . . . An epilogue outlines Evalina's adult life, which was in many ways more interesting than the story told here.

Description from Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

P.C. Hawke Mysteries #4

The Lethal Gorilla

By Paul Zindel
P.C. Hawke is a 15-year-old high-school student cum private detective. He gets access to murder cases through his best friend and detective partner, Mackenzie Riggs, whose mother is the New York City coroner. This new P. C. Hawke mystery involves the death of a much-hated celebrity scientist at the Bronx Zoo. The victim was first chewed on by a jaguar and finished off with a transfusion of gorilla blood. In the course of their investigations, P. C and Mackenzie are menaced by a dominant silverback gorilla, chased by a madman with a titanium machete, and cornered by a group of jaguars before they are rescued and solve the crime. P. C. describes all of this in a first-person voice that combines contemporary teen jargon with the traditional, super-cool delivery of the hardboiled detective. The contrivances may disappoint some readers, but the exotic zoo setting and exciting action scenes will hook others.

Description from Booklist

Amy Moves In

By Marilyn Sachs
It's hard being the new kid on the block!

The first in a series of highly praised books about a poor, Jewish family living in the Bronx in the 1940s. Amy moves into a new neighborhood, and learns to choose the right kind of friends, and the consequences of lying.

Description from Publisher

Marilyn Sachs was pretty daring to write about life as it really was (and still is) in lower-middle-class New York. The heroine, Amy, is a realistically unpleasant little girl whose behavior is not justified or explained even by her dad's irresponsibility which impoverishes the family.. it's just laid out for you to see. Amy ingratiates herself with people she admires even after she sees they're racist bullies. She has to find her own answers; there weren't any kindly "counselors" back then. As for the idea that the boys seem "superior" to girls, face it; physically, at that age, they are. What Amy goes through with the boys in the park is an everyday reality that can't be changed by all the politically correct girls-can-do-anything wishful thinking in the world. There's more to identify with in the Amy stories than with all the unrelentingly cheerful Sweet Valley books in the world. Besides, I just love Rosa and I'd like to have a ball like that, too.

Description from Customer Review

Laura's Luck

By Marilyn Sachs
Laura knows she won't be happy at camp...but could she be wrong?

In the second of three books about a poor family living in the Bronx in the 1940s, Laura, the older sister, has to cope with the pleasures and pains of going off to camp.

Description from Publisher

Amy and Laura

By Marilyn Sachs
Sisters stick together--don't they?

In the final book in a series about a poor family living in the Bronx in the 1940s, two sisters come to grips with their own envy, resentment and love for each other.

Description from Publisher

Great for both the big and little sister, Amy and Laura concludes the three part "Amy and Laura" trilogy that has been out of print for years. Now back in print, it's a chance for all sisters to read this book and really understand the meaning of sisterly love.

Amy is ten and a half, her sister Laura twelve. They don't look alike and don't act alike either: Laura's a bookworm, Amy is loud and boisterous. She makes friends with the wrong crowd, Laura's friends are mainly her books and her refuge isn't the schoolyard, it's the library.

But they share something in common. Mama's coming home from the hospital after a long stay, and both girls are excited to see her again. But when Mama comes home, she's changed -- and Laura and Amy aren't used to the changes. But through it all, they learn just what it's like to have a sister that looks up to you or you look up to her, and how they are friends underneath all that.

Description from Customer Review

Veronica Ganz

By Marilyn Sachs
Every new kid learns the hard way--no one messes with Veronica Ganz. She's bigger than everyone else, and meaner, too. When shrimpy Peter Wedemeyer starts acting up, Veronica knows she has to show him who's boss--but Peter finds a million sneaky ways to get to her. Veronica hates it. She's got to come up with a new way to settle the score.

Description from Publisher

The Snow Walker

By Margaret K. Wetterer and Charles M. Wetterer
Remember the storms that buried the East Coast in snow during the Winter of 1995? Well, bad as they were, the Blizzard of 1888 was worse. People were afraid to leave their homes; 80-mile per hour winds tore the roofs off houses; thousands of birds froze to death, and power and phone lines broke. But 12-year-old Milton Daub was looking for an adventure. So he and his father made a pair snowshoes and Milton went out in the snow to shop. An elderly neighbor saw Milton returning from the store and asked to buy some of Milton's milk. Within minutes, Milton was bringing supplies-including lifesaving prescriptions-to his snowbound neighbors. Based on a true story, this is an exciting, suspenseful adventure as well as an educational glimpse into life in the 19th century.

Description fro Children's Literature

Notes running before and after this true story inform beginning readers of the facts about the Blizzard of 1888, a three- day storm that ravaged the northeastern US. Milton Daub, 12, leaves his home in the South Bronx to buy milk, wearing the snowshoes he and his father have patched together from odds and ends around the house, with a picture from a geography book as a guide. As neighbors in need shout requests for groceries and medications to Milton from their snow-banked, second-story windows, the boy's mission grows. At day's end, he is not only able to turn his unasked-for profits over to his mother but has also saved a life. Wetterer (Kate Shelley and the Midnight Express) and her co-author craft a satisfying volume in the On My Own series, building suspense as the snowshoes disintegrate; Young's illustrations wonderfully evoke old New York City and the storm of a century.

Description from Kirkus Reviews

The Box Seat Dream

By Richard Bosworth
Imagine a young athlete receiving a gift that mysteriously transports him to the greatest sports arena of the second millennium, visiting glorious time periods long before he was born. Experiencing events and seeing individuals he had only heard about through his parents, grandparents, and the media. A gift, that to everyone else in the world is nothing more than sports memorabilia, but to Jimmy McNeil, it is the conduit to his future, only, if he can first unlock the secret of Box Seat A1-33.

The Box Seat Dream is a fictional novel written for the middle reader as well as the entire family. The story is about a twelve-year-old Little Leaguer growing up in Yonkers, New York, during the mid -1970s. Jimmy McNeil through a chance of fate obtains an original 1923 Yankee Stadium seat, the one and only seat that survived the historic renovation of modern sports most decorated coliseum. The mystique that surrounds the box seat is enhanced through Jimmy's magical dream visitations to Yankee Stadium. With each visitation, Jimmy and the reader learn life lessons as well as develop new skills in America's most participative amateur sport.

The dream sequences take the reader through different Yankee eras touching down at appropriate times for Jimmy's benefit. Box Seat Al-33, along with Yankee "greats" such as Lou Gehrig coach Jimmy through the skills of hitting, fielding, and sportsmanship.

There are nail biting Little League games that give the reader the sense they are really at the ballpark emotionally cheering for Jimmy and his teammates, as they battle toward the league championship. However, Jimmy's most crucial lessons are learning how to battle the challenges of life off the ball field.

Description from Publisher

Where You Belong

By Mary Ann McGuigan
Fiona doesn't know where she belongs. When her mother is evicted from their Bronx apartment in New York, she tries to return to her father's house--only to flee one of his drunken rages the first night back. Alone, she wanders the streets until--by chance--she bumps into an old classmate. Yolanda seems to understand her pain. Misfits, both girls search for belonging. Will they find it in each other? ... even though one is black and the other is white? Mary Ann McGuigan deftly explores how racism riddles the lives of these characters in New York during the early '60s, leaving readers hopeful about friendship's power to bridge chasms--perceived and real.

Description from

Where does 13-year-old Fiona belong? With her mother and three siblings, all newly evicted from their Bronx apartment? With her alcoholic father whose repeated failures at life drive him to violent, abusive rages? With resentful Aunt Maggie in her already overcrowded apartment? Feeling lost and alone, Fiona bolts and, by chance, encounters Yolanda, a black girl from school, whose defiant spirit and kindness have made her Fiona's idol. Because the year is 1963 and the civil rights movement is stirring passionate enmities, the ensuing interracial friendship is forbidden, but through it Fiona discovers, for the first time, that positive change and hope can become part of her life. In this deeply moving novel, McGuigan demonstrates a wonderful talent for creating emotionally complex characters, believable situations, and closely observed, realistic settings. That some of the plot situations remain unresolved reinforces the feeling of real life, which is one of the book's singular strengths. As for Fiona, she is an unforgettable character with a first-person voice that is marvelous in its understated artfulness and compelling in its emotional authenticity.

Description from Booklist

Once I Was a Plum Tree

By Johanna Hurwitz
Once Gerry's family name Pflaumenbaum, Which means "plum tree" in German. Now, it's jusy plain Flam, which means nothing at all.

"What religion are you?" is the worst thing anyone could ask ten-year-old Geraldine Flam. Gerry, growing up in the Bronx just after the Second World War, doesn't have any religion at all." We are assimilated," Gerry's father tells her. But Gerry wants more. Here's a funny and warm story about belonging -- to a particular community and to the world.

Description from Publisher

The Gift-Giver

By Joyce Hansen
The year she is in fifth grade, Doris meets a special friend in her Bronx neighborhood.

Description from Publisher

Memories of Clason Point

By Kelly Sonnenfeld
Seen through a mist of time, tears, and love during her father's funeral, Sonnenfeld remembers the good, the bad, and the downright funny that took place in her ethnically mixed Bronx neighborhood during the Depression. The bright daughter of a deaf mother and a risk-taking, but erudite father, she finds herself in the role of her father's confidant and her mother's protector. Having escaped the persecution directed toward Jews in Hungary and sundry dismal medical diagnoses, Mr. Kellerman is optimistic and caring. Determined to feed and house lost animals, homeless men, singularly ungracious relatives, as well as his own family, he turns to distilling whiskey in his basement when hard times arrive. After the police come to make arrests, they become sympathetic friends and the judge becomes a new customer. When their home is foreclosed, Mr. Kellerman "borrows" another house from the bank, utilizes the city marshal as a mover, and, in a running battle of wits, "liberates" some gas and electricity. Eventually, however, there is a heavy price to pay, and Kelly learns that it is her fragile mother who holds the family together. Sonnenfeld's characters are enticing. With an entertaining and unerring eye for authentic detail, the author colors the period to re-create an animated reality. Pair this poignant urban autobiography with a piece of rural fiction for an interesting class project.

Description from School Library Journal

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