PANDAS ON THE EASTSIDE – Orca Books Fall 2016
Journey Song knows that something beautiful is just what her rundown neighborhood needs, but she doesn’t expect it to be two misplaced pandas.
In the spring of 1972, Journey’s neighborhood, The Eastside has NOT seen better days; it’s never had any good days at all. But ten year old Journey loves her school and the people she’s sees in the street every day. To her it is home. Then on the same day the war takes her teacher’s brother, her estranged father returns. Troubled, but determined to work things out in her own way, when Journey hears that two pandas are being held in a warehouse in the neglected waterfront, she can’t help but get involved.
Journey is horrified to learn that the pandas, originally destined for a zoo in Washington, might be shipped back to China over a diplomatic spat between the Chinese and the Americans. She’s worried about the conditions that they might be in – who is feeding them, are they warm enough, are they lonely? She thinks the pandas might help her teacher deal with her grief, that her father might be persuaded to stick around, and that maybe, just maybe, her best friend might be inspired one last time to try to read. To the people of Eastside, Journey’s infectious enthusiasm for all things panda is hard to resist and soon she’s getting assistance from every corner of her tight knit neighborhood.
Now all she needs to do ensure somehow that the pandas aren’t shipped back to China but instead carry on to their comfortable new home. And somewhere along the line, Journey hopes she and her friends can catch of glimpse of the pandas too.
“…beautifully portrayed characters, all seen compassionately but realistically through Journey’s eyes.” Kirkus Reviews
“….an intricately-plotted, character-filled middle-grade novel that confronts prejudice without preachiness.” Quill & Quire/Canlit for Little Canadians
“The spirited and likeable character Journey Song navigates a life filled with struggles in this novel set in 1970s Canada…Young readers who deal with tough challenges will identify with Journey Song. Recommended.” School Library Connection
“This book is heartfelt and hopeful, a gift to anyone of any age.” Canadian Children’s Book News
Honors and Awards
Ontario Library Association (OLA) Best Bets for 2017 (Junior fiction)