What plans, Bella wants to know. After doing some research, she realizes that these so-called projects are neither needed nor wanted by the community. In fact, the only people benefiting from it seem to be the city officials who shut down his idea. Something is very fishy.
When she shares her suspicions, however, Bella is ignored. Adults think she’s just a noisy, curious kid. And she knows she has to proceed with caution. As a homeless teenager, she lives in the empty house of a recently deceased artist. She doesn’t want the city’s child services agency to find out where she is.
Luckily, Bella’s neighborhood is home to unexpected allies: M, a retired detective; Aaries, his tough 15-year-old assistant; and a friendly pit bull. M’s curiosity and concern for the community mirrors that of Bella. He shows her how to ask questions, dig for information, and quietly gather evidence. Slowly, this atypical team begins to separate truth from lies. But Bella makes mistakes. She acts recklessly and spoils their plans.
So Bella is threatened. Thugs follow her and her makeshift quarters are searched. Someone important wants her out. And they close.
In this lively, fast-paced mystery, Bella becomes a savvy activist. She learns to speak truth to power and make sure everyone will listen to her. Although set in Indianapolis, Indiana, the issues explored in this book are common to all cities. Affordable housing, transparency in government spending, adequate programs for young people, these may also be needs in your community. Bella offers a model of how young people can get involved and help create positive change.
At Kelly Yang’s ” Reception “ (8-12), 10-year-old Mia Tang helps her hard-working parents run an old motel. When the landlady cheats on her family and other longtime residents, Mia uses her voice in surprising ways to fight this and other injustices. KidsPost reader Esmé Haggard of McLean, Va. recommends the entire series, especially Book 3, “Room to dream.”
In “Summer of the Manatees” (Ages 8-12), by Evan Griffith, Peter and Tommy find an injured manatee and learn about the many threats to these gentle sea creatures. As young environmental activists, can they hope to fight against rich and indifferent boat owners?
Young readers should look out for Cynthia Lord’s “Dragee” (ages 7 to 10), the first book in the Shelter Pet Squad series. Suzannah and her friends bring treats and toys to the animals at their local shelter, but she wants to do more. She makes it her mission to find a good home for an abandoned guinea pig, but no one seems to want her.
Evan Pao knows when people lie. He just moved from California to Virginia with his mom and older sister, and he can tell who’s friendly and who’s pretending. As he adjusts to being the only Asian student at his new school, can he also figure out other things, like how to live without his father (who is missing) and how to navigate his difficult past? his new hometown?
The summer reading club is open to children from 6 to 14 years old. They can read some or all of the books on our list. (Find a blurb for each book on wapo.st/kidspostbookclublaunch2022.) The first 600 registered children will receive a notebook and a pen. To join the club, children must be registered by a parent or guardian by August 8. To register, this adult must complete our form at wapo.st/kidspostbookclub2022. If you have any questions, contact email@example.com.
Do you have a suggestion?
Send KidsPost your ideas for other books to go along with this year’s “Speaking Truth” theme. Children ages 6-14 are eligible to participate; one entry per person. Have a parent or guardian complete the top portion of the form at wapo.st/kidspostYMAL then share your suggestions before July 28th. We can include your favorites in KidsPost. We will send several books to three randomly selected children who have sent in suggestions. Winners will be notified by August 30.
A reminder from the KidsPost team: Our stories are for ages 7-13. We welcome discussions from readers of all ages, but please follow our community guidelines and make comments appropriate for this age group.