Applegate, Katherine. (2007). Home of the brave. New York, NY: Scholastic, Inc.
This is the heartwarming story of an immigrant, Kek, coming to the United States as an African war refugee. He comes to live with his aunt and cousin. He doesn't know if his mom is alive or not. It really makes you think about what it would be like to go somewhere not knowing anyone, anything, or the language. This book is beautifully written in free verse with the best imagery ever. He calls an airplane a flying boat. He doesn't understand what the "unkind blanket of white" is and why the cold "is like claws on [his] skin" (p. 3-4). He goes to school and is in a class for children learning English. He decides to get a job helping a widow with her farm. He makes best friends with a cow, Gal, that he takes care of and talks to. Gal takes Kek home where cows are very important. The widow eventually needs to sell her farm and Kek finds a place for Gal. The story shows the relationships between Kek and Gal (the cow), Ganwar (his cousin), Hannah (a foster child), Lou (the widow), and his missing mom. Home of the Brave is one of my new favorite books. I think it would make a wonderful read aloud chapter book, a great opportunity for so many important discussions.