cover image Dream On, Amber

Dream On, Amber

Emma Shevah, illus. by Helen Crawford-White. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $12.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4926-2250-5

Charismatic 11-year-old Ambra Alessandra Leola Kimiko Miyamoto finds it confusing to be of both Italian and Japanese descent, and it’s “molto embarrassing” to have five names that draw attention to her differences—she’d prefer to stick to Amber. What’s more, her Japanese father abandoned the family years earlier, leaving Amber and her younger sister, Bella, with unresolved anger and longing. Middle school is going to be tough, so Amber creates an imaginary father to confide in and tries to lift Bella’s spirits by sending her faux letters from their father, who she pretends is a secret agent (“When all my missions are over, I might be able to come back. I might not though, so don’t get all excited or anything”). Crawford-White’s margin doodles (stars, confetti, swirls, etc.) and a smattering of Italian and Japanese words (including chapter numbers written in English, Italian, and Japanese) further enliven Shevah’s debut. Amber’s effervescent and opinionated narration captivates from the start, making it easy to root for her as she strives to conquer the “beast” of her worries and thrive at home and at school. Ages 9–12. (Oct.)