Scarlet Ibis

288p. S. & S. May 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481449410.
Gr 4–6—Scarlet Ibis Mackenzie takes her name from a bird native to her father's homeland of Trinidad. She's never met her father and has seen only one picture of him that her mother holds close. "Mum says I have his eyes and his smile. She says I have his skin too. Like the color of soft caramel." Her brother Red has never seen his daddy either. Red's skin color is "white, white, white" and his hair is a "shock of orange." Red also has autism. He is very close to Scarlet; no one else appreciates that he knows every species of bird and holds a vast collection of feathers that he gently inventories each day. Their mum never leaves the house and rarely gets out of bed. Scarlet takes care of all of them. She tries to put on a good front for the social worker so she doesn't take Red away, but when tragedy strikes, the family is separated. Scarlet is sent to foster care and no one will tell her where Red was placed. This poignant story examines issues of racism, discrimination, and disability with compassion and depth. Scarlet has had to grow up fast in order to keep her family together but she still longs for the same things every 12-year-old does: friends, acceptance, and stability. Readers will empathize with Scarlet's story and appreciate her deep connection with her brother.
VERDICT A loving story of family and the bonds of trust between siblings; a fine addition to elementary school shelves.

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