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Full Cicada Moon
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Full Cicada Moon
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Inside Out and Back Again meets One Crazy Summer and Brown Girl Dreaming in this novel-in-verse about fitting in and standing up for what's rightIt's 1969, and the Apollo 11 mission is getting ready to...
Inside Out and Back Again meets One Crazy Summer and Brown Girl Dreaming in this novel-in-verse about fitting in and standing up for what's rightIt's 1969, and the Apollo 11 mission is getting ready to...
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  • Inside Out and Back Again meets One Crazy Summer and Brown Girl Dreaming in this novel-in-verse about fitting in and standing up for what's right
    It's 1969, and the Apollo 11 mission is getting ready to go to the moon. But for half-black, half-Japanese Mimi, moving to a predominantly white Vermont town is enough to make her feel alien. Suddenly, Mimi's appearance is all anyone notices. She struggles to fit in with her classmates, even as she fights for her right to stand out by entering science competitions and joining Shop Class instead of Home Ec. And even though teachers and neighbors balk at her mixed-race family and her refusals to conform, Mimi's dreams of becoming an astronaut never fade—no matter how many times she's told no.
    This historical middle-grade novel is told in poems from Mimi's perspective over the course of one year in her new town, and shows readers that positive change can start with just one person speaking up.
    From the Hardcover edition.



  • From the book

    Flying to Vermont–January 1, 1969

    I wish we had flown to Vermont

    instead of riding

    on a bus, train, train, bus

    all the way from Berkeley.

    Ten hours would have soared, compared to six days.

    But two plane tickets—

    one for me and one for Mama—

    would have cost a lot of money,

    and Papa already spent so much

    when he flew home at Thanksgiving.

    Mama is sewing buttons on my new slacks

    and helping me fill out the forms

    for my new school in Hillsborough, our new town.

    This might be a new year

    but seventh grade is halfway done,

    and I'll be the new girl.

    I'm stuck at the Ethnicity part.

    Check only one, it says.

    The choices are:



    Puerto Rican





    I am

    half Mama,

    half Papa,

    and all me.

    Isn't that all anyone needs to know?

    But the form says All items must be completed,

    so I ask, "Other?"

    Mama pushes her brows together,

    making what Papa calls her Toshiro-Mifune face.

    "Check all that apply," she says.

    "But it says just one."

    "Do you listen to your mother or a piece of paper?"

    I check off Black,

    cross out Oriental,

    and write Japanese with a check mark.

    "What will we do now, Mimi-chan?" Mama asks,

    which means: Will you read

    or do algebra, so you're not behind?

    "Take a nap," I say.

    Mama frowns,

    but I close my eyes

    and pretend we're flying.

    The bus driver is the pilot

    and every bump in the road

    becomes an air pocket in the sky.


    A jolt wakes me up. I was dreaming

    my hatsuyume—the first dream of the new year.

    If I tell my hatsuyume, it won't come true

    because in Japanese, speak sounds just like let go.

    And if my dream meant good luck, I don't want to

    let it go.

    I dreamed I was a bird, strong and brown

    and fast

    with feathers tipped magenta and gold.

    I shot straight up into the air like a Saturn rocket,

    then swooped and dove, the sun warming my back.

    I pumped my wings, then glided

    over the desert

    and the sea.

    The air filled my lungs,

    the wind lifted my wings

    higher and higher

    over the mountains

    and above the clouds.

    The moon grew large,

    and I stretched to touch it.

    Maybe it was a good-luck dream

    and this will be a good year

    for Papa and Mama and me.

    That's what I hope.

    But, what if my hatsuyume meant bad luck?

    Mama says to let go of your bad dreams by telling them.

    Papa says to bury your bad dreams

    in a hole as deep as your elbow.

    The ground in New England is frozen,

    so if I listen to Papa, I'll have to wait until spring.

    I'll listen to Mama instead

    and write my dream on paper,

    so either way—good luck or bad—

    my hatsuyume will not be spoken.

    I have never flown before

    but one day




    Waxing Gibbous

    I study

    The Old Farmer's Almanac

    that Santa had put in my stocking

    from cover to cover.

    I like

    reading about the moon,

    and I've memorized

    all its names and phases.

    I know

    the moon tonight

    is waxing gibbous, almost

    the Full Wolf Moon.

    It has chased us outside the bus window

    all the way from Boston,

    bounding through the sky,

    skipping across rooftops,

    dodging trees

    like it has one ...


  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 22, 2015
    In free verse, Mimi Yoshiko Oliver narrates her seventh grade year at a new school in 1969 Vermont. Mimi’s ethnicity puzzles people: on the first day of school, a classmate asks, “What are you?” a question Mimi often hears: “I am/ half my Japanese mother,/ half my Black father,/ and all me.” Her father advises, “ ‘be kind, be respectful, and persist.’/ ‘Like raindrops on granite,’ I say,/ because we know that’s how I persist—/ drip, drip, drip/ until the granite cracks.” Mimi makes friends, excels academically, and dreams of being an astronaut; however, “I feel like I have to be/ twice as smart and funny at school/ and twice as nice and forgiving in my neighborhood.” Throughout the year, Mimi confronts barriers; when told that girls take home economics and boys take shop, she politely and repeatedly protests this rule, eventually engaging in civil disobedience. When the school suspends her, her classmates organize a sit-in. Through the perspective of this clear-eyed, courageous heroine, Hilton (Found Things) powerfully recreates a time of momentous transition in American history. Ages 8–12. Agent: Josh Adams, Adams Literary.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from June 15, 2015
    Perhaps a few books manage to capture tweendom's chaos, but too few catch its poetry. Hilton offers readers the indelible character of Mimi, a half-Japanese, half-black seventh-grader who travels with her mom, Emiko, from their old home in Berkeley, California, to Vermont, where her dad, James, works as a college professor. She's the new kid at her school during the second half of the 1969 school year-around the time the U.S. starts withdrawing troops from Vietnam and lands on the moon. As Mimi hitches her career dreams to the lunar landing, microaggressions-those daily intentional and unintentional slights, snubs, and insults aimed at people solely because they belong to a marginalized group like Mimi and her interracial family-drag her back to Earth. Spare verse viscerally evokes the shattering impacts these everyday forms of bigotry from family, teachers, neighbors, townspeople, and schoolmates ("I'm trying hard to smile... / and pretend I don't see... / that kids are making squint-eyes at me") cause even as Mimi makes fast pals with Stacey, the Southern white girl with "that accent / as fragrant as lilacs," and a slower, deeper bond with Timothy, the white boy living next door. In her acknowledgments, the author states that Mimi is "for anyone who has big dreams but is short on courage." By the book's end, readers will be moved by the empathetic lyricism of Mimi's maturing voice. (glossary, pronunciation guide) (Verse/historical fiction. 8-12)

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from August 1, 2015

    Gr 4-8-Mimi tells her story in this novel in verse that will resonate with fans of Jacqueline Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming (Penguin, 2014). The seventh grader describes arriving in small-town Vermont from Berkeley in 1969. While filling out a form, the teen is perplexed by which ethnicity to check off: her father is a black college professor, and her mother is Japanese (they married when he was a soldier stationed overseas). In 1969, mixed race is not an option on the form, nor is Oriental the same as Japanese. Mimi is fascinated by space and the moon landing. She designs a science project for school that requires the use of power tools-all this during a time when girls were not expected to be interested in science and were required to take home economics rather than shop. When Mimi bucks convention, there are repercussions and punishments. She weathers these with support from a smart girlfriend as well as a loyal and tender boy next door. Mimi's parents are engaged in and support the budding scientist's projects. This novel stands out with its thoughtful portrayal of race and its embrace of girls in science and technical fields. The verse, though spare, is powerful and evocative, perfectly capturing Mimi's emotional journey. VERDICT An excellent addition to the growing shelf of novels in verse with culturally diverse protagonists.-Amy Thurow, New Glarus School District, WI

    Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Penguin Young Readers Group
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