Please welcome my guest author today, Rajani LaRocca. I am dubbing 2021 The Year of Rajani LaRocca Children’s Books because look at the amazing lineup of books being released this year!!!
I met Rajani at The Concord Bookshop several years ago for her Midsummer’s Mayhem book launch event. We shared a book birthday. Sumo Joe came out the same day as Midsummer’s Mayhem. Rajani also guest posted on her Storytime Math picture book, Seven Golden Rings.
Rajani is sharing her list of favorite diverse middle grade novels in verse. Her novel in verse, Red, White, and Whole is a story that is near and dear to her heart. We are giving away a copy! Please use the Raffecopter at the bottom to enter.
Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca
“Infused with science, 80s music, and the struggles and joys of navigating middle school when you live in two different worlds, Red, White, and Whole is delightfully real and achingly beautiful. Reha’s story grabbed my heart from the first pages and never let go.” — Kate Messner, author of Breakout and Chirp
This is a coming-of-age story of an Indian American girl trying to balance her Indian culture with being American. When her mother becomes sick with leukemia, she is determined, despite being queasy at the sight of blood, to become the perfect daughter and save her life.
It should be noted that Rajana LaRocca is also known as Dr. LaRocca, a Harvard-educated general practitioner. She brings both sensitivities of understanding tragic medical diagnoses and knowing what it is like to grow up as a bi-culture kid. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Diverse Middle Grade Novels in Verse
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
The Newbery Honor and National Book Award winning story of Hà, a girl who flees Vietnam with her family to settle in Alabama. A heartfelt story of pain and healing, written in free verse. [middle grade novel in verse, ages 8 and up]
Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes
A beautiful novel written in tanka poetry about Garvey, a boy who disappoints his father by not being a sports star, who drowns his sorrows in food, and who makes the choice to sing in the school chorus, where he shines. [middle grade novel in verse, ages 8 and up]
Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
The gorgeous Newbery Honor winning novel in verse about Jude, a girl who moves to Cincinnati to escape unrest in her home of Syria, and how she learns to fit in and find her voice in her new home. [middle grade novel in verse, ages 8 and up]
The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan
A fantastic novel written in different poetic forms with eighteen diverse child characters and their efforts to save their school. [middle grade novel in verse, ages 8 and up]
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
The Newbery Medal winning novel written in free verse, concrete poetry, and hip hop, from the point of view twin brothers, Josh and Jordan, who both play basketball, and what happens when they grow apart. [middle grade novel in verse, ages 8 and up]
All of Me by Chris Baron
A free verse novel about Ari, a thoughtful boy who is bullied for being overweight, and his summer spent making friends and trying to get healthier. [middle grade novel in verse, ages 8 and up]
Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar
A heartbreaking novel in verse about Betita, who comes with her parents to Los Angeles to escape violence in Mexico. But then her father is deported by ICE, and Betita and her pregnant mother are forced into a family detention camp, where her voice soars despite the horrible conditions. [middle grade novel in verse, ages 8 and up]
Unsettled by Reem Faruqi
A beautiful free verse novel about Nurah, a girl who is uprooted from Pakistan and moves to Georgia, where she must learn to flourish in a new home. [middle grade novel in verse, ages 8 and up]
Emmy in the Key of Code by Aimee Lucido
The story of Emmy, who feels out of place because she doesn’t have the talent of her musician parents, but who learns a new way to make music in her computer coding class in her new school. [middle grade novel in verse, ages 8 and up]
Red, White, and Whole Novel in Verse GIVEAWAY!
We are giving away a copy! Please use the Raffecopter below to enter. We can only mail to U.S. and A.F.O. addresses.
Born in India and raised in Kentucky, Rajani LaRocca has always been a voracious reader, reading almost anything she could get her hands on. Before she transitioned from reader to writer, however, Rajani pursued another of her passions: medicine. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, Rajani has been a primary care internal medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital since 2001. Rajani has worked through the COVID19 pandemic; she recently received her vaccination and will be helping to vaccinate others.
In 2019, she added author to her list of accomplishments with the publication of her first book for young readers, Midsummer’s Mayhem, an Indian-American mashup of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and competitive baking. In October of 2020, Rajani published her first picture book, Seven Golden Rings, which introduces the mathematical concept of binary reasoning by weaving it into a story about an ancient Indian boy’s adventures at the rajah’s court. Her middle grade book written in verse, Red, White, and Whole, follows the story of an Indian American girl whose mother is diagnosed with leukemia; Bracelets for Bina’s Brothers, part of the Storytelling Math series, which features both the Hindu holiday of Raksha Bandhan and examples of basic concepts of patterns; and The Secret Code Inside You, a rhyming picture introduction to DNA.
Rajani lives in eastern Massachusetts with her husband and two children, where she spends her time writing, practicing medicine, and co-hosting the STEM Women in KidLit podcast. Learn more at RajaniLaRocca.com.
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p.s. Related posts:
BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.