Michele Weber Hurwitz Recommends:

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

My absolute favorite middle grade book that can and should be read by everyone. Based on real events and narrated by Ivan, a gorilla who’s been in a cage in a shopping mall for years. Among the many elements I love about this book: its stunning and powerful simplicity, how so much is said with so few words, and how it made me think about the awful ways in which humans have mistreated animals.


Mosquitoland by David Arnold

The first line grabbed me and didn’t let go: “I am Mary Iris Malone, and I am not okay.” This is the story of 16-year old Mim’s bus journey from Mississippi to Ohio as she aims to reach her ailing mom before it’s too late. The true-to-life, honest, smirky but hurting voice is what makes this book.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Originally published in 1984, vignettes and short essays by Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina growing up in Chicago, still resonate today. Written over 30 years ago, I was surprised by how much of the prose is still applicable today. It made me sad, to think that there’s still quite a bit of work to do in this world, but happy because of the author’s courage to dream.


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