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Ten-year-old Mira must balance the loyalty she feels towards her family with the desire to be accepted by her new classmates in this powerful coming-of-age story about identity, community, and finding a place to call home.

I’m not like most of my classmates. At least not yet.

My family came to this country when I was five years old, but we’re so close to becoming citizens now. This means we’ll finally be able to use Amber like everyone else. Then I will be as special as the rest of my classmates, the ones who were born here with magic already in their veins.

But most of all, no one will compare me to Daniel anymore. Daniel who doesn’t even try to fit in, who actually seems proud of being an outsider.

Once I take my first sip of Amber, I will be on the inside.

I hope.

Photograph by Antonette Smith Photography

Anna Staniszewski is the talented and prolific author of over a dozen books for young readers, ranging from the novels Once Upon a Cruise and The Dirt Diary series, to picture books such as Dogosaurus Rex and Power Down, Little Robot. She was a Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a winner of the PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award. Currently, Anna lives south of Boston with her family and teaches writing and children’s literature at Simmons University.

"A light fantasy with a powerful message of hope. "

– Kirkus Reviews

"A strong middle-grade novel recommended for all libraries."

– Booklist

"While it can be read as a simple fantasy, the underlying themes that emerge about privilege and equal rights would make this ideal for a classroom read-aloud. The complexity of ideas included in a fantasy story intended for this age-range is remarkable."

– School Library Connection

"Readers will feel proud of Mila for speaking up and standing up for what’s right. VERDICT Useful for schools and classrooms where social justice is widely discussed. A strong purchase for upper elementary and middle school collections."

– School Library Journal

"Staniszewski employs phraseology kids may already be familiar with to lay out common debates surrounding legal and illegal immigration, and that’s how the novel will be most useful: as a conversation-starter about issues readers may have noticed in their own lives....it points to the need for longer-term solutions to human dependence on dwindling natural resources and emphasizes that children can—and do—play roles in shaping environmental, political, and social change."

– BCCB