In this message-driven tale, a brother and sister join forces to try to save their grandmother’s beloved peach tree from an angry neighbor.
Ten-year-old Hude and his 9-year-old sister, Amani, are spending part of their summer vacation with their grandmother in her small Maryland town. After being harassed on the train by three aggressive boys, they aren’t thrilled to find that the same bullying children live in their grandmother’s neighborhood and that two of them will be competing against Hude in an archery tournament. When a new—and inexplicably angry—neighbor discovers that Grandma Hana’s peach tree is actually planted in his yard, he decides to have it cut down to accommodate a new fence. While Hana counsels acceptance, the children nonetheless develop a plan to protect the tree, leading to a mildly exciting climax. Dialogue that rarely rings true, cardboard characters and often awkward prose—“Mr. Fenby was like his truck—dependable, straightforward, loyal and sentimental”—all serve to diminish the appeal of this effort. Additionally, Mair (The Perfect Gift, 2010) uses Grandma to preach extensively on Islam rather than trust her exemplary character to reveal the important qualities of her faith.
Although books about American-born Muslim children are relatively uncommon, this predictable tale fails to fill the void. (Fiction. 8-12)