The Hero Next Door edited by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

The Hero Next Door edited by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich. Yearling, 2021. 9780525646334

Format: Paperback

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

 Genre: Short stories

 What did you like about the book? This anthology, compiled by We Need Diverse Books, includes 13 stories by some of today’s most prominent authors of middle grade fiction, all centered around the theme of heroes and heroism. Heroes come in all types of folks, in all different genres of story, like the camp counselors who protect their charges from panhandling drug addicts in ‘Minnows and Zombies;’ by Rita Williams-Garcia; the mother who decides to take her daughter and leave her abusive husband (but leave the family dog behind) in ‘Rescue’ by Suma Subramaniam; or the ‘bright minds’ of Juana Medina’s ‘Los Abuelos.’  Other standouts include the adoption story ‘Home,’ by Hena Khan, and ‘Reina Madrid,’ a story about two friends growing up in 1970s Queens.  

Short story anthologies are such a great choice for upper elementary and middle school students, as they allow readers to pick and choose the stories that appeal to them and leave the rest.  These new collections from We Need Diverse Books are ideal as they will introduce their audience to authors they may not be familiar with (and hopefully encourage kids to seek out longer works), and also expose them to a variety of genres and cultural experiences.  This particular set will inspire readers to consider the true definition of a hero, and perhaps start to recognize heroes in their own midst.  As such it would be a great resource for ELA teachers, as readers could read multiple stories and compare the way the different authors interpreted the theme of the book. 

Anything you did not like about the book?

 To whom would you recommend this book? As some of the stories are a little dark or address more mature subject matter, it is definitely most appropriate for 5th grade and up.  

Who should buy this book? Public, elementary and middle school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Fiction, story collections

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  no

 Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.

Date of review: 4/1/2021

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