The Wonder of Wildflowers by Anna Staniszewski
English | 2020 | hildrens > Picture Books | Children’s > Middle Grade | ePUB | 3.3 MB
Anna Staniszewski lives in the Boston area and teaches in the MFA Writing for Children Program at Simmons College. She’s the author of several tween novels, including THE DIRT DIARY and SECONDHAND WISHES, and the picture books POWER DOWN, LITTLE ROBOT and DOGOSAURUS REX.
Ten-year-old Mira must balance the loyalty she feels towards her family with the desire to be accepted by her new classmates in this powerful coming-of-age story about identity, community, and finding a place to call home.
I’m not like most of my classmates. At least not yet.
My family came to this country when I was five years old, but we’re so close to becoming citizens now. This means we’ll finally be able to use Amber like everyone else. Then I will be as special as the rest of my classmates, the ones who were born here with magic already in their veins.
But most of all, no one will compare me to Daniel anymore. Daniel who doesn’t even try to fit in, who actually seems proud of being an outsider.
Once I take my first sip of Amber, I will be on the inside.
Yuli gives me a small smile as she walks by. “Good job, Mira,” she says softly. We both know it’s not true, but it’s still nice of her to say it.
I slide into my seat and quickly dab at my damp forehead with the edge of my sleeve. What would it take for the other girls to sweat this much? A marathon?
“We can work on the steps after school,” Krysta says as she sits down at the desk beside mine, tossing her dark braid over her shoulder.
“Don’t you have fencing?” I ask. Or archery or karate or piano lessons. Since Krysta and I live on the same street, we ride our bikes to school together in the mornings, but her afternoons are always booked up.
Her dark eyes twinkle. “Mom fired my coach for being too easy on me, so I get the day off. Want to come over?”
“I’ll have to ask my dad,” I say, hoping he’ll say yes. Tata hasn’t had any odd jobs lined up in weeks, so he’s been tearing up our garden instead. Getting out of helping him for one afternoon would be a nice change.
“Everyone, please settle down!” Miss Patel calls out. “We’ll get to our history lesson in a minute, but first I have an announcement about our spring wildflower project.”
I let out a quiet sigh. The other day, Miss Patel explained how each of us would be collecting and labeling wildflowers and then presenting our “top picks” to the class. I’d much rather be writing about flowers than hunting through bushes to find them. Then again, Tata was so excited when I told him about the project that he even smiled a little. He thinks I might be able to help him save the dying flower beds in front of our house.
“Remember that for the project you’ll be working in pairs,” Miss Patel goes on.
Krysta and Eileen instantly lock eyes across the room. I know it’s nothing personal. Krysta can’t risk pairing up with me when her mom expects her to be perfect. Usually my teachers are fine with me working by myself.
Then Miss Patel adds, “I’ve gone ahead and chosen your partners.”
Everyone groans, and Anton, who’s always asking questions, instantly raises his hand. “Why don’t we get to pick?”
“Because I want you to stretch yourselves,” Miss Patel says before she starts going through the list. Krysta rolls her eyes when she and Anton are partnered up. At last, Miss Patel reads two final names. Mira and Daniel.
I’ve been so careful about never talking to Daniel or even standing near him, in case people think we’re the same. Now we’ll have to get up in front of the whole class and do a presentation together?
I shoot a glance in Daniel’s direction. His messy hair hangs in his face, and his skinny legs stick out from under his desk as if they’re too long for the rest of his body. He’s staring out the window, not even pretending to pay attention.
“Please make sure to meet with your partners this week to plan,” Miss Patel says. She passes out instructions along with stacks of wildflower guides that list all the common plants growing in our area.
Krysta flashes me a sympathetic look as my pulse pounds harder and harder.