From School Library Journal
Grade 4-6 Twins Keira and Minni, 11, are used to the funny looks their chessboard family receives: Keira takes after their black mother and Minni resembles their white father. In spite of differences in appearance and personality, the girls share a bond that they are convinced is unbreakable. When their maternal grandmother invites them to fly from their coastal Washington town to North Carolina and enroll in the Miss Black Pearl of America Program, their mother is hesitant, but finally agrees. Keira is ecstatic to enter, but introverted Minni is not happy. Her reservations seem well founded when they arrive: Grandmother Johnson is as persnickety as ever, and the program's president questions whether Minni qualifies to participate in an event for black girls. Minni learns what it feels like to be the odd person out in terms of appearance, and Keira is resentful that, up until now, Minni really hasn't understood what her sister was going through in their white Seattle suburb. The girls mature and learn a few things about their grandmother's struggle to be seen as an equal by the white community. As in Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything in It
(Delacorte, 2007), Frazier addresses issues faced by mixed-race children with a grace and humor that keep her from being pedantic. The story is enjoyable in its own right, but will also encourage readers to rethink racial boundaries and what it means to be black or white in America. Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
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*Starred Review* The idea of being a twin has built-in appeal—a sibling who has almost identical experiences of the world can be an instant BFF. That ideal informs the lives of sisters Minni and Keira, but the differences between the biracial siblings may be vaster than they’d like to think, because Minni’s coloring is white like their father’s, while Keira’s is black like their mother’s. During the summer when the girls turn 11, awareness of how they’re perceived is driven home when a storekeeper in their home state of Washington has a widely disparate reaction to the girls’ browsing through fancy dresses. Later, when the girls visit their prickly maternal grandmother in North Carolina and compete in a beauty contest for African Americans, Minni feels she is the focus of skeptical attention. Not only does Frazier raise questions worth pondering but her ability to round out each character, looking past easy explanations for attitude, is impressive. She also leavens the whole with easy humor and builds suspense over the pageant itself. Will the talented and outgoing Keira win the prize? Will Minni be able to overcome her shyness and shine? A novel with a great deal of heart indeed, from the winner of the John Steptoe New Talent Award for Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything in It (2007). Grades 4-6. --Karen Cruze