Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo


Clap When You Land
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Published March 5, 2020 by HarperTeen

Summary: In a novel-in-verse that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

Ricki’s Review: I was so happy to see that this book won the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award. It is one of the most beautifully written books that I have ever read. It made me laugh, it made me weep, and it filled me with so many emotions and so many wonderings. The book is beautifully lyrical, and the voices are so strong. There’s a scene in the book that simply took my breath away. If you haven’t read this book yet, I recommend you head out and purchase it now. It’s absolutely magnificent.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How do the two perspectives of the story work together? How did it enhance your reading of the story?
  • How does place function in the story?
  • Where is home for the characters?
  • How do the characters in the story grieve? What understandings did it offer about grief and loss?
  • How do the characters in this book show strength in many different ways?

Flagged Passage: 

“Can you be from a place
you have never been?

You can find the island stamped all over me,
but what would the island find if I was there?

Can you claim a home that does not know you,
much less claim you as its own?”

Read This If You Love: Books. Seriously, it would be very difficult not to see the beauty of this book. Elizabeth Acevedo is one of the greatest writers of our time.

Recommended For: 


King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender


King and the Dragonflies
Author: Kacen Callender
Published: February 4, 2020 by Scholastic

GoodReads Summary: Twelve-year-old Kingston James is sure his brother Khalid has turned into a dragonfly. When Khalid unexpectedly passed away, he shed what was his first skin for another to live down by the bayou in their small Louisiana town. Khalid still visits in dreams, and King must keep these secrets to himself as he watches grief transform his family.

It would be easier if King could talk with his best friend, Sandy Sanders. But just days before he died, Khalid told King to end their friendship, after overhearing a secret about Sandy—that he thinks he might be gay. “You don’t want anyone to think you’re gay too, do you?”

But when Sandy goes missing, sparking a town-wide search, and King finds his former best friend hiding in a tent in his backyard, he agrees to help Sandy escape from his abusive father, and the two begin an adventure as they build their own private paradise down by the bayou and among the dragonflies. As King’s friendship with Sandy is reignited, he’s forced to confront questions about himself and the reality of his brother’s death.

Ricki’s Review: I finished this book a couple of weeks ago, and it is still on my mind. My goodness, it is beautifully written. I think I’ve recommended it about fifteen times to friends, colleagues, and students in the past two weeks. I don’t want to give away any spoilers in the review, so I’ll just say that this book shares powerful perspectives of friendship and of family. It also offers complex discussions of racism and homophobia—intersections and analysis. I am adopting this text for class use in the Fall, and I am really looking forward to discussing it with others.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might ask students to select one aspect of the text that they want to explore in depth. I can think of many (but won’t name them because they are spoilers). Then, students might group according to interests and develop text sets to expand their understandings and think about the topics they choose from multiple perspectives.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What does Kingston learn in this text? What does he unlearn?
  • How does Kingston navigate his grief? How do his family members navigate their grief?
  • What did you learn from this text?

Flagged Passage: “Secrets are best kept hidden, because sometimes people aren’t ready to hear the truth. And that’s okay, King, he said, Because you don’t need other people to know the truth also. Just as long as you got that truth in you.”

Read This If You Loved:  Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender; Fighting Words by 

Recommended For:

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