Middle grade is a term that refers to books written for readers between the ages of eight and twelve. In this column, Erica will recommend great books for children in this age group!
June Yang, her sister, and her mother have been evicted from their apartment and landed in Huey House, a homeless shelter. She’s ashamed of their new circumstances – until she begins to make friends, especially with longtime Huey House resident Tyrell. Tyrell helps June learn the ins-and-outs of the House, while June gets Tyrell the chance to learn how to play the classical music he loves listening to. Just as the two are starting to comfortably settle into their new routines, Huey House starts to buzz with talk of a new policy that would force many of the residents out of Huey House before they’re ready. June knows that this is a policy worth fighting against – but can they do enough to stop it being implemented?
This story could have been heartbreakingly sad from beginning to end, but instead there is a sense of warmth and hope sustaining every single one of these characters – even as there is an acknowledgement of how difficult and overwhelming being homeless and trying to change those circumstances can be. While the ending is slightly unbelievable, in an overly optimistic turn of events, readers will still cheer for June and Tyrell’s hard work paying off in a big way.
Check out the book that PW Reviews called a “bighearted standalone” with “strong characterizations of Huey House’s many staff and residents,” Kirkus Reviews described as a “powerful, heartwarming, and thoughtful tale of kids cultivating chosen families during challenging circumstances,” and Booklist Reviews called “a memorable vision of homeless shelters as complex, supportive communities working towards positive change.”