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Friday, May 22, 2020

The Homesick Club, written by Libby Martinez and illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon. Groundwood Books, 2020. $17.95 ages 4 and up

"In Bolivia, there are lots of
mango trees and green vines.
A family of hummingbirds -
una familia de colibris - lived
in our backyard. My grandmother
and I fed them sugar water every

Hannah is from far away, too.
She is from Israel. She says
it's always sunny there, not
like here where the sun hides ... "

Monica and Hannah are kindred spirits, and they are classmates. That is not all they have in common. They have moved from other countries to live in the United States. Monica is from Bolivia where she and her grandmother shared a love of hummingbirds. Hannah is from always-warm Israel where giant sand dunes and tiny tortoises are not unusual sights. They are members of a club they have created for themselves ... The Homesick Club.

When their teacher has her baby and a substitute is hired, they meet Ms. Shelby. She is from Texas and has never lived in such a big city. While Monica and Hannah share memories of home and the things they miss, Ms. Shelby does the same thing while teaching. The girls notice that she often seems lonely. So, they ask her to join their club. Their teacher is intrigued.

"You have to be from far away," I say. "I'm from
Bolivia and Hannah is from Israel. We talk about
things we miss. Do you miss all the stars you could
see in Texas?"
"Yes," she says. "I miss seeing all of those stars. I
would love to join your club, Monica."

Among the things Ms. Shelby tells them she misses is something called Hummingbird Cake. It gives Monica an idea for Show-and-Tell. This heartwarming book speaks to the feelings of being from somewhere else. The tone for the telling is always full of feeling and being helpful to one another. It shows readers that no matter where we come from, we have many similarities.

What's better than sharing friendship and food?

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