Sincerely Sicily by Tamika Burgess

Published by HarperCollins

Summary:  Sicily is dismayed to learn she’ll be starting sixth grade at the new middle school, leaving her three best friends behind.  School turns out okay, as Sicily reconnects with an old friend from kindergarten, whose cute seventh-grade cousin Michael is living with the family.  Things hit a snag, though, when Sicily’s class is assigned a project on their family’s heritage, and some of her classmates question how she can be both Black and Latinx (Panamanian).  Sicily begins to explore her culture through research, conversations with family members, and writing, something she has always felt passionate about.  She has a chance to write for a new school magazine, but the mean girl editor discourages her.  With inspiration from both her late grandfather’s journals and her new friend Michael, Sicily finally decides to persevere with her writing and produces something she can truly be proud of.  Includes a glossary and author’s note.  304 pages; grades 4-7.

Pros:  Sicily is a smart and sensitive narrator whose passion for writing and curiosity about her culture will educate and inspire readers.  Subplots about a fight with her grandmother over her hair and a ruined dress she tries to keep a secret from her mom add to the authenticity of the story.

Cons:  Sometimes the story felt a little too much like a vehicle for educating readers about Black Panamanian culture.

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