What projects, Bella wants to know. After research, she finds that these so-called projects are neither needed nor wanted by the community. In fact, the only people who benefit seem to be the city officials who thwarted their idea. Something is very shady.
However, when she voices her suspicions, Bella is ignored. Adults think she’s just a loud, nosy kid. And she knows she has to tread carefully. As a homeless teenager, she lives in the vacant house of a recently deceased artist. She doesn’t want the city’s youth welfare office to know her whereabouts.
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Luckily, Bella’s neighborhood is home to unexpected allies: M, a retired detective; Aaries, his tough 15-year-old assistant; and a friendly pit bull. M’s curiosity and concern for the community mirror Bella’s. He shows her how to ask questions, dig for information, and quietly gather evidence. Slowly this unusual team begins to separate truth from lies. But Bella makes mistakes. She acts rashly and messes up her plans.
Then Bella is threatened. They are followed by thugs and their temporary accommodation is searched. Someone important wants her out of the way. And they join.
Bella becomes an accomplished activist in this lively, fast-paced mystery. She learns to speak the truth to those in power – and to make sure that everyone listens. Although based in Indianapolis, Indiana, the topics explored in this book are the same in every city. Affordable housing, transparency in government spending, appropriate programs for young people – these can also be needs in your community. Bella offers a model of how young people can engage and make positive change.
At Kelly Yang’s “Reception” (8 to 12 years old), 10-year-old Mia Tang helps her hard-working parents run an old motel. When the owner betrays her family and other longtime residents, Mia uses her voice in surprising ways to fight this and other injustices. KidsPost reader Esmé Haggard of McLean, Virginia recommends the entire series, especially Book 3: “room to dream.”
in the “Manatee Summer” (Ages 8-12) by Evan Griffith, Peter and Tommy find an injured manatee and learn about the many threats to these gentle sea creatures. But as young environmental activists, can they hope to fight off wealthy, callous boat owners?
Young readers should keep an eye out for Cynthia Lords “jelly bean” (Ages 7 to 10), the first book in the Shelter Pet Squad series. Suzannah and her friends bring treats and toys to the animals at their local animal shelter, but she wants to do more. She makes it her mission to find a good home for an abandoned guinea pig, but nobody seems to want it.
The Secret Battle of Evan Pao
Evan Pao senses when people lie. He has just moved to Virginia from California with his mother and older sister, and he can tell who is being friendly and who is faking it. As he adjusts to being the only Asian student at his new school, can he figure out other things like living without his father (who has disappeared) and how to navigate the troubled past of his new hometown?
The Summer Book Club is open to children between the ages of 6 and 14. You can read any or all of the books on our list. (See wapo.st/kidspostbookclub launch2022 for a blurb for each book.) The first 600 registered children will receive a notebook and pen. To join the club, children must be registered by August 8th by a parent or legal guardian. To enroll, that adult must fill out our form at wapo.st/kidspost bookclub2022. If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have a suggestion?
Submit your ideas for other books that fit this year’s Telling the Truth theme to KidsPost. Children between the ages of 6 and 14 are eligible to participate; one entry per person. Have a parent or guardian fill out the top portion of the form at wapo.st/kidspostYMAL, then submit your suggestions by July 28th. We can add your favorites to KidsPost. We will send multiple books to three randomly selected children who submitted proposals. Winners will be notified by August 30th.
A reminder from the KidsPost team: Our stories are aimed at 7-13 year olds. We welcome discussions from readers of all ages, but please follow our community rules and make comments that are age-appropriate.