Using humor as the common denominator, a multicultural cast of YA authors steps up to the mic to share stories touching on race. Listen in as ten YA authors — some familiar, some new — use their own brand of humor to share their stories about growing up between cultures. Henry Choi Lee discovers that pretending to be a tai chi master or a sought-after wiz at math wins him friends for a while — until it comically backfires. A biracial girl is amused when her dad clears seats for his family on a crowded subway in under a minute flat, simply by sitting quietly in between two uptight white women. Edited by acclaimed author and speaker Mitali Perkins, this collection of fiction and nonfiction uses a mix of styles as diverse as their authors, from laugh-out-loud funny to wry, ironic, or poingnant, in prose, poetry, and comic form.
Ten writers and artists, including Varian Johnson, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Francisco X. Stork, offer brief works of fiction and nonfiction "about the between-cultures life." As Perkins notes, "Humor has the power to break down barriers and draw us together across borders," and the stories within bear that out, though few qualify as laugh-out-loud funny. Most offer a subtler, uncomfortable brand of situational humor: Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich calls her high school "an oasis of suburban racial integration"; when the drama club performed The Crucible, "the drama coach was sensitive enough to ask the black members of the troupe if we'd be uncomfortable playing the role of slave Tituba." And in "Under Berlin," written in verse, G. Neri describes a "game" that a biracial American family plays on the German subway: seeing how quickly two elderly white women will change seats after the black father sits between them. The edgy joke-flirting between a Jewish violinist and Asian comedian in Cherry Cheva's "Talent Show" and the hero of David Yoo's "Becoming Henry Lee," who comically embraces Asian stereotypes in an effort to fit in, will leave readers thinking about the ways that humor can be a survival tool in a world that tends to put people in boxes. Ages 12 up.