Review Detail

Kids Fiction 695
Problems in the Philippines
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Nora and her mother have been living in her father's family mausoleum after they lost their home, and her father, in an apartment fire. They manage, like many others who live in the cemetery, to eke out an existence. There isn't enough money to buy the uniform and supplies needed for Nora to attend school, so she helps her mother do laundry for one family and also makes and sells garlands of flowers. She has good neighbors in Jo and his grandmother, Lola Mercy, and they are very supportive when her mother does not return one night and men associated with loan sharks break into Nora's home and steal the her father's watch and the money she has been collecting to travel to live with her uncle. Because she does not show up to do laundry, she loses that position, and she starts to panic when her mother is still missing. She goes to the mahjong game her mother regularly attends, and talks to some of her mother's friends. Most of the friends can only say that her mother owes them money, but Rosie has some more information. Eventually, Nora finds her mother, who is very sick. Lola and Jo help her tend to her mother's medical needs, and Nora reaches out to the women who employed them, who helps a little. Because circumstances are so dire, Nora attempts to break into the home of the man who stole her watch to get it back, and she finds that there are some issues that have stood in the way of her mother maintaining contact with her brother. Will Nora be able to get her mother the help she needs?
Good Points
It's so important that students read about what life is like for other children their age in other parts of the world, or children in the US whose lives are very different. If you liked Saaed's Amal Unbound or Yang's Front Desk, this is another great title to offer to students to expand their horizons. I love that Nora is bright and would really like to attend school, and even does some work with a man who has a mobile school that comes to her area. Even though Nora struggles to get food and water, she is upbeat and proactive about her own life and shows a lot of resiliency and skill in survival. For adults who loved Little House on the Prairie for the way Laura had to use her pluck to survive, I believe that books like this are the thing to hand to students now instead! The glossary of Filipino words and phrases is helpful, and the details of every day life are amazing!

I'm assuming that this takes place in the modern day, but it might help readers who don't know about life in the Philippines to somehow indicate this. I would have liked a little more information, and maybe a map!

As a child, I loved books set in different historical periods that told me details of every day life. If there had been books about children in other parts of the world, I would have loved those as well. It's great to see more #ownvoices accounts of life in different countries!
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