Review of The Hero Next Door

The Hero Next Door
edited by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
Intermediate, Middle School    Crown    266 pp.    g
7/19    978-0-525-64630-3    $16.99   
Library ed.  978-0-525-64631-0    $19.99   
e-book ed.  978-0-525-64632-7    $9.99

Rhuday-Perkovich, in partnership with We Need Diverse Books, has compiled thirteen short stories (by fourteen authors) about “everyday heroes in our midst.” The entries highlight characters through many lenses and perspectives (race, cultural background, ability, gender identity, etc.). Subject matter and tone are varied, with some of the tales featuring breezy banter (“The Assist” by mother-daughter team Linda Sue Park and Anna Dobbin, a contemporary school story; “Everly’s Otherworldly Dilemma” by Ellen Oh, an alternate-universe creature fantasy) and others dramatically tackling complex issues, from international adoption (“Home” by Hena Khan) to domestic violence (“Rescue” by Suma Subramaniam). Standouts include Rita Williams-Garcia’s “Minnows and Zombies,” a city-set meditation on homelessness and addiction; Ronald L. Smith’s “One Wish,” a folklore-tinged tale about tricksters and empathy; and Lamar Giles’s hugely entertaining “Ellison’s CORNucopia: A Logan County Story,” an Encyclopedia Brown–like, STEM-focused mystery starring perceptive twin sisters. “About the Authors” and “About We Need Diverse Books” sections are appended. Read this thoughtful volume alongside Kekla Magoon’s May/June 2018 Horn Book article “The Un-Hero’s Journey.”

From the July/August 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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