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Drita, My Homegirl Perfect Paperback – June 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 3-5–In alternating chapters, two fourth graders tell about the development of their unlikely friendship. Drita is a refugee from Kosova who, along with her family, is finally joining her father in New York City. In a cramped apartment and without connections or language skills, her mother sinks into a serious depression, while the girl struggles to find her place in school. Maxie, a precocious African-American child who lives with her supportive grandmother and her widowed father, struggles, too; shes in constant trouble in school for her comedic efforts since her mother died. When she sees a news report on Kosova, she decides to do a project on Albanian refugees, focusing on Drita. The girls find common ground, and when Maxies grandmother, a retired nurse, sweeps in to rescue Dritas mother, the families forge a bond as well. Maxies attempts to help Drita understand American ways are touching, and Dritas understanding of her friends loss is a testament to the emotional intelligence of children. Dritas story resonates with the bravery of an individual determined to become part of her new country while retaining the love of her homeland. Maxie has the cocky voice of a girl who is trying too hard to disguise her pain. More a tale of the power of love than of refugees, this first novel is imbued with the language and customs of Kosova as well as the efforts of a family attempting to regain balance. Read it aloud to groups and let the conversations begin.–Susan Oliver, Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System, FL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 3-5. Drita, 10, is a Muslim Albanian refugee from Kosovo and a stranger in her fourth-grade classroom in Brooklyn, New York. Maxie is African American, one of the in-crowd that wants nothing to do with the newcomer--until her social studies teacher charges her with interviewing Drita about her story. The two girls speak in alternating first-person narratives that reveal both their differences and their connections: Drita's mother is having a breakdown; Maxie cannot confront her grief about her mother's death in a car accident three years before. Most moving is Drita's surprise about the ethnic mix in her classroom; in Albania a wall separates Serb students from Muslims. The message connecting schoolyard bullying with war is heavy, but the girls' growing friendship and respect for one another is poignant, as is the climax when Maxie presents her report about what Drita left behind. Steer slightly older children wanting more about the Balkan war to Nadja Halilbegovich's My Childhood under Fire: A Sarejevo Diary (2006). Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Grade Level: 3 and up
  • Perfect Paperback: 135 pages
  • Publisher: Perfection Learning (June 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756989191
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756989194
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,859,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Judy K. Polhemus VINE VOICE on February 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I just found another book to add to my "good books" shelf. That's what one of the girls in our PK3-8 school call this particular section in the library. This is where I keep books I think will appeal to girls third through eighth grade. The top of this low bookcase is about shoulder height, just right for browsing books about girls. This is my story, I am the librarian.

A first novel, "Drita" is the story of a ten-year old girl who comes with her mother, grandmother, and brother from war-torn Kosova (that is how it is spelled in her country) to join the father, who has worked and saved a year to bring his family over. The females are dismayed by the dirty, unkempt apartment and spend their first few hours cleaning it.

The story shifts viewpoint every other chapter. Chapter two begins with Maxie's story. Maxie is African-America with grief in her heart over the loss of her mother in an auto accident two years previously. Wise Ms. Salvato, their fourth grade teacher, gets Maxie interested in Drita and assigns Drita's journey and country to Maxie and Drita as their big project.

The two girls do become friends in a most unlikely way. What a sweet and kind friendship it becomes, which, of course, is the main plot. Reverberating around these two are family members whose lives are touched and changed in such loving ways because of this friendship.

This book is highly recommended for friendship, geography and history lessons, resolution of family problems for both girls, and the sheer joy of the story. No girl could ask for better!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on May 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A girl named Drita came to New York City from Kosova because of a war in her homeland. She starts school the day after she arrives in NY. She finds it quite complicated to make friends, when all of a sudden, she meets an African-American girl named Maxie. Maxie doesn't like Drita at first but they soon find out they have alot in common. What changes Maxie's mind about Drita? Why don't you read this book by Jenny Lombard,a NYC school teacher, and find out? It is her 1st novel for children. I enjoyed it very much.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on May 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The first fiction novel by Jenny Lombard is a book you will read from start to finish. It is about a girl named Drita and a girl named Maxie. Drita, a refugee from Kosova, must live in a new country. Meanwhile, Maxie, a girl from New York that has lost her mom and has to cope with the loss of her best friend, meets a new girl in school. Could Drita have found a new friend in Maxie? Or will she be a loner in school with no friends forever? A tale of friendship, loss and realizing that it's what's on the inside that matters, Jenny has written a page-turner that you will read from start to finish. I would recommend this book to 4th grade and up.

Harry, New York City
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Linda Austin - MoonbridgeBooks on April 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"Drita, My Homegirl" is a fun but touching tale of two very different girls, one lost in a strange new country and one brash city girl suffering the loss of her mother. The author does a good job of keeping the characters' voices distinct as she switches back and forth between Drita and Maxie's perspectives. Children will learn in a gentle way about the fear and pain of war and its effects on everyday people, although Drita's mother's depression may be a bit unsettling for sensitive kids. This story tackles some tough issues and leaves us with the lesson that the person inside is what is really important. My fussy-reader fourth grader loved this book which I read aloud to her.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on May 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A war story turns into a story of friendship between Maxie and Drita. Read the small adventures between these two girls. But how does friendship happen? Recommended for 3rd graders and up. This author teaches in my school and it is her first novel for children.

Gabe, New York City
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on June 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Drita, My Homegirl is a great book. It is a good book for children in 3rd to Sixth grades. It teaches you how not to judge kids from the outside but to look at their inside and to give them a chance to be friends with you.

Miriam
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Format: Perfect Paperback
Review from my perspective as an elementary school counselor:

I always have a lot of optimism as the school year begins that students will continue to blossom in their math, reading, and writing skills....but more importantly I have a hope in my heart they will also grow as a community. If you want to create, build, and bind positive student relationships then start with an inspiring story like Drita, My Homegirl by Jenny Lombard. It will inspire kids to be appreciative, compassionate, sensitive, and take care of one another. Starting in third grade I sometimes notice a negative shift in friendships. This sometimes stems from the differences they notice about each other. Instead of taking a genuine interest and being curious about diversity, sometimes kids can knock one another down with hurtful teasing and exclusion. Enter Drita and Maxie, two girls with not a lot of commonality...sounds like a lot of students in my school. Each chapter changes back and forth between their voices. This is key to developing empathy and understanding towards their personal stories. It reminded me of the quote, "Never judge a person until you've walked a mile in their shoes." Drita, My Homegirl embodies those words. It's also the adults who get Maxie to take a REAL look at who Drita is and what she's been going through. This allows Maxie to show her own vulnerabilities and it sparks her caring side to come forward. I'm excited to have this in our school library this year. But it can also be used as a wonderful read aloud that will surely increase empathy, friendship, and community building.
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