Option 2: Owl Friends by Carla M. Pacis
(Visit the new Giveaways page to learn how you could win this book!)
Amelia turned to stare at the kinky mass of black hair beside her. She was sure she saw something peep out from under it.
"What are you looking at?" demanded the owner of the hair.
Amelia shifted her stare to look at the dark brown face before her. His hair surrounded a face that was as flat as a plate, into which his nose had all but disappeared except for two wide nostrils. His black eyes, which now looked straight at her, were round and unblinking. His dark thick lips were pursed in irritation . . .
This is the second book you could choose, if your name is drawn as the winner. And it's so thin . . . and I love children's books so much . . . that if you choose it, I just might throw in a second one by the same author! =P
Now for the details! Remember that if I missed anything, you can ask me more questions (and earn more "Top Commenters" points!) in the combox. =)
Genre: Children's Book (Illustrated)
(Not quite YA, even though it is a "chapter book," because the story is told so simply.)
Setting: Loob Bunga, a resettlement village for people who lost their homes after the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo.
(Got nostalgia? I remember this terrible catastrophe even though I was nowhere near it. The night after the eruption, before anyone in the city really knew what had happened, grey ash fell from the sky like dry, dead snow, carpeting the entire metropolis. But young and thoughtless as I was, I had no idea how difficult it must have been for little girls who had more to worry about than a dusty street.)
Characters: Amelia, a young girl whose family loses their entire farm. Johnny, an Aeta boy whose people are also displaced. Their families, classmates and teacher, in roles ranging from minor to "walk-on." A pet owl.
(They are as simply realised as the story is simply told--and only Amelia and Johnny get enough "screen time" to be three-dimensional. I also think it's worth noting that Johnny is likely, so far, the only Aeta main character in Philippine children's literature.)
Premise: Children from different communities become friends; their parents don't like it.
(This is a classic--some might say, cliched--storyline; and Pacis certainly isn't doing anything new with it besides transplanting the stock characters into a Philippine setting. That could be a mark against it or a mark for it, depending on the reader.)
Theme: Don't judge a book by its cover? Everyone you meet has something to teach you? We should all hang together, or else hang separately?
(Hey, don't knock the classics! =P)
Now for a personal plug . . . I actually interviewed the author last year for a Fully Booked Zine feature. Find my article in the PDF of that issue: Songs, Stories and Simulacra: Art Straight from the Filipino Heart.
She told me that she tries to make her novels as Filipino as possible, without actually (I suppose) writing them in the vernacular--and indeed, she is self-conscious about the cultural perspective she can bring to her books in a way that writers who can take the YA or Children's Literature genres for granted are not. Some of her books make me feel like a local tourist being educated on my heritage, which I'm really not crazy about. On the other hand, she is also a pioneer, blazing trails for future writers to take; in a hundred years, when her successors can be self-conscious about personal style rather than general otherness, Filipino children will still be reading her novels.
Image Source: Owl Friends by Carla M. Pacis