cover image Sincerely Sicily

Sincerely Sicily

Tamika Burgess. HarperCollins, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-315960-0

Sicily Jordan, who is Panamanian American, is excited to start sixth grade at Ravenswood Middle School with her three best friends, until new zoning results in her no longer being eligible to attend, and she’s forced to enroll at local Shirley Chisholm Middle School instead. On her first day of class, Sicily gets a flyer for the school’s magazine club, for which she hopes to channel her passion for writing. She also reconnects with Filipina classmate Reyna, with whom she was friends in kindergarten. During a presentation in which Sicily is tasked with educating her classmates about her heritage, a student asks, “If your family is from Panama and they speak Spanish, why are you Black?” When she tries to talk to her family about her frustrations surrounding the classmate’s remarks, her abuela makes an anti-Black comment about Sicily’s hair that leaves her feeling betrayed. Despite her strained relationships, Sicily stays focused on learning more about her Black and Latina roots; her research inspires her to stand up to her bullies, including her beloved abuela. Timely and refreshing, Burgess’s vulnerably rendered debut empathetically tackles colorism and highlights the courage it takes to confront the hurtful words of strangers and loved ones alike. Ages 8–12. (Jan.)