Groundwood. Mar. 2022. 152p. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781773065946; pap. $10.99. ISBN 9781773068152.
G. 3-7–Award-winning Canadian author Ellis once again gives readers an unforgettable opportunity to build global awareness and connection in this collection of 10 short stories that serves as a companion to 2017’s Sit. Each independent story features a main character on their 11th birthday—an auspicious day for many, an ordinary day for some, a day of survival for others. Oma and her family are fleeing their country in a rubber dinghy in an attempt to find a better life. Marmalay is struggling to find her voice among her peers. Lazlo is following his father through Budapest before having to choose between his morals and his parent. Connor stumbles on evidence that people’s feelings can be so different from what they share. From crossing a border to escape gang violence to discovering one’s independence, the characters in this collection exhibit the same emotions as kids everywhere: fear, annoyance, relief, confusion, love. Each realistic entry offers a window to commonality and illustrates that stepping forward, no matter the situation, is courageous. Ellis seamlessly weaves robust imagery, honest characters, strong pacing, humor, and spot-on word choice, underscoring the distinct and memorable birthday each child experiences. Practiced readers will fly through the collection, while reluctant readers will appreciate the brevity and high interest content.
VERDICT A first purchase for school and public libraries and a first recommendation for teachers, homeschoolers, and independent readers.

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