Lotus Bloom and the Afro Revolution by Sherri Winston

Published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Summary:  Lotus is a gifted violinist just starting at a new arts school.  Her best friend Rebel is still at their old, underfunded middle school, leading protests against the discrepancy between the two schools.  Lotus would rather keep the peace and focus on her music, but when the older boy she displaces as concertmaster starts bullying her, she finds it harder and harder to keep her temper.  Then the boy’s mother gets into the act by pressuring the school to threaten Lotus with expulsion if she doesn’t get rid of her Afro.  Torn between her politically active friend and her peace-loving mother, Lotus must learn to find her own way to express her views and navigate the path that is best for her.  304 pages; grades 4-7.

Pros:  Middle school kids will appreciate Lotus’s dilemma of wanting to speak up but being afraid to make waves.  I liked that ultimately she figured out what was right for her even though it was different from what Rebel was advocating.  This made the National Book Award longlist; the finalists were recently announced and can be found here.

Cons:  Lotus seemed stuck in inaction for a long time.

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