In I’m New Here (2015), O’Brien told the story of three new immigrants from their perspectives. Here, she tells the same story from the perspectives of the peers who welcome them.
Jesse, Jason, and Emma are struggling to connect with their new peers—Maria from Guatemala, Jin from South Korea, and Fatimah from Somalia—who seem so different from them. Jesse, a white boy, sees Maria watching his team play soccer. He wonders if she even knows how to play, thinking, “Our team is already great as it is. I don’t want to mess it up.” Jason, a black boy, wants to share his comics with Jin, but since Jin can’t read or write English, Jason wishes he “had a superpower to help him.” Emma, a white girl, tries to explain to Fatimah, who wears hijab, what’s happening in class, but Fatimah does not understand. Each student uses a talent of theirs (soccer, writing, and drawing) to connect with their new classmate and make a friend. O’Brien’s watercolor-and-digital illustrations again make effective use of white space to positively depict the students who are already “home” moving through discomfort and confusion to welcoming their new classmates. The author includes a note discussing intergroup anxiety, how to overcome it, and strategies for dissolving barriers.
Informative and genuine, the book offers much to learn about connecting, expanding understanding, and overcoming differences—a great companion to the previous title. (Picture book. 5-10)