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The Hero Next Door

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  304 ratings  ·  52 reviews
From We Need Diverse Books, the organization behind Flying Lessons & Other Stories, comes another middle-grade short story collection--this one focused on exploring acts of bravery--featuring some of the best own-voices children's authors, including R. J. Palacio ( Wonder ), Rita Williams-Garcia ( One Crazy Summer ), Linda Sue Park ...more
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Published July 30th 2019 by Listening Library
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Meag McKeron
This story collection is worth picking up if only to read “Reina Madrid” by R.J. Palacio. While the story was great all on its own, I wouldn’t mind a full book featuring Reina and her friends in 1970s Queens - I was that invested in the characters after only 20 pages.

Like all collections, I liked some stories a lot more than others. Other favorites for me besides Reina Madrid were One Wish by Ronald Smith, Home by Hena Khan, and Go Fish by William Alexander. I’m sure other readers will have oth
Still very much in love with the short story collections coming out for middle grade and YA. This is no exception. A commendable, sentimental, beautiful, touching, lovely, thoughtful collection by fantastic solid authors and some new-ish authors who showcase friendship above all else with stories about helping a teammate write a book report (on All American Boys nonetheless) to drug addiction, adoption and innovation (twins who create robots) and which represent a spectrum of regional voices fro ...more
As a diverse middle grade short story collection, this fills a gap (along with Flying Lessons) and has several standout stories. My favorite stories were "One Wish" by Ronald L. Smith, "The Assist" by Linda Sue Park and Anna Dobbin, and "Reina Madrid" by R.J. Palacio. ...more
June Jacobs
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would like to highlight three of my favorite selections from this short story collection.

-- Home, written by Hena Khan:
This is a touching story written from the point of view of a twelve-year-old girl, Aleena, who lives in Virginia with her parents and teen brother, Bilal.

The family arranges to adopt a three-year-old boy, Hakeem, from an orphaniage in Morocco. Hakeem speaks no English, and Aleena's family speaks no Arabic. The process of adopting this child has taken over a year. The entire f
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Hero Next Door is a collection of short stories written by award-winning authors and aimed at middle grade readers. Each story includes a diverse group of people, focuses on at least one child, and has a hero doing every day things because something that seems simple to one person can be huge to another. I quite enjoyed most of the stories. I highly recommend this book to people of all ages!
This anthology leans heavily away from realistic fiction short stories, but is filled to the brim with stories that allow for deep metaphors and discussions based on certain themes and ideals. I think this is an incredibly accessible teaching text for middle grades and could easily be used in a Hero's Journey unit. ...more
Kaytee Cobb
Short story collections by multiple authors are always a bit weird for me. Some are great, some are passable, but you have to review it as a whole! I'd day this one was about halfway great. ...more
Casey Jo
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
So glad this exists and I appreciate that there's a theme in this one (vs. Flying Lessons).

Highlights: Rita Garcia-Williams starts things off powerfully with Minnows and Zombies (view spoiler). Home by Hena Khan, about adopting a younger brother from Morocco) is really sweet. Thrown by Mike Jung is full-on empowering I ap
I loved the first We Need Diverse Books collection, Flying Lessons, so much! It is one of my favorite anthologies ever, so I couldn't wait for this one to come out. I have to say. I am a little disappointed. My favorite story in here was Rescue by Suma Subramaniam. It covers domestic abuse through the eyes of a girl and her dog. RJ Palacio's story is sweet especially the mom's reaction to the neighbor's father. I appreciated Hena Khan's story about adoption and Mike Jung's story whose protagonis ...more
As you see, from "We Need Diverse Books", a new collection that is easy to imagine readers loving, hopefully, teachers reading it aloud so that every single student can learn so many ways that acts of kindness can occur. Each story has its own magic, sometimes fantastical, often realistic, but always satisfying. I am grateful to this organization that is giving us ALL the faces of our students and to the writers who brought life to some of them.
Ms. Stephens
I really liked most of the stories from _Flying Lessons_, but this collection had a bunch of duds.

Good ones (IMO):
--"Ellison's Cornucopia" by Lamar Giles (sci-fi)
--"Thrown" by Mike Jung (narrator with autism)
--"A Girl's Best Friend" by Cynthia Leitich Smith (seeing good in everyone)
--"Go Fish" by William Alexander" (which included a gender nonconforming character)
--"Reina Madrid" by R.J. Palacio (about racism)
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solid collection of short stories for middle grade readers. As with all collections, some stories felt more complete than others—I particularly enjoyed Ronald L. Smith's "One Wish," William Alexander's "Go Fish," Suma Subramaniam's "Rescue," and R.J. Palacio's "Reina Madrid."

I hope We Need Diverse Books keeps these anthologies coming.
Julie Mittan
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great set of short stories! Perfect for 5-6th grade! Diverse characters, diverse stories/situations! Perfect for current students!

I don’t think there was a single story I didn’t like! Great mixture of authors voices!
Aug 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
A good variety of stories, some of which take the theme to less ordinary places than the “next door” theme might imply. Should be enjoyed by middle-grade readers.
Shania Flores
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I felt represented. Lately I have been reading more books with diversity and have finally been able to see myself in them. It's an incredible feeling. ...more
Sep 25, 2019 rated it liked it
My favorite stories : Home by Hena Khan and A Girls Best Friend by Cynthia Leitch Smith. I plan to share with grade 5 students!
Mary Louise Sanchez
Great short stories from diverse voices, especially targeted to middle grade students. Many of the stories should be expanded into books!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
As the book jacket indicates, heroes usually do not wear flapping red capes or have superpowers. And they're usually not famous or known outside of their household or neighborhood. In these 13 short stories and a Foreword, authors explore what makes a hero, a literary journey ranging from befriending a zombie and identifying a couple of thieves at a farmer's market to befriending someone with a racist father and welcoming a new addition to the family. All of the stories are interesting and will ...more
Melinda Brasher
Oct 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a cool collection: stories with diverse characters and all manner of heroes. The range is broad and the quality very good.

Some of my favorites:
-One Wish, by Ronald L Smith. Great voice and setting, with a folk-tale sort of moral.
-Home, by Hena Khan. Very warm and relatable.
-Ellison's CORNucopia; A Logan County Story, by Lamar Giles. Imaginative and tech-y with some nice subversions of stereotypes.
-Rescue, by Suma Subramaniam. Though the dilemma and solution related to the dog seem a li
Tameka Woodard
Feb 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
Middle grades students will enjoy this short story anthology written by a diverse group of highly talented authors focusing on unlikely heroes. Because of the variety, students will connect more with some stories than others, however, there is something for everyone. Authors have included young Native American and Hispanic characters, topics of alcoholism and abuse, those who talk to ghosts and captains of soccer teams. And this is just a start. The Hero Next Door will give students much to disc ...more
Carol Moore Kollar
Dec 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: gr-5-8
These short stories by multicultural authors are all about everyday heroes in the lives of middleschoolers. Especially enjoyed "The Assist" by Linda Sue Park & Anna Dobin, showing a fellow student how to write an essay instead of cheating and "Reina Madrid" by R.J. Palacio showing compassion and tolerance for others. A few good read alouds. ...more
Sep 13, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a hard time understanding why WNDB would include an author who has made her name with incredibly ableist stories in this collection. Disability is part of diversity. Other than that, there are some beautiful stories in this collection; I especially enjoyed Lamar Giles’, Cynthia Leitich Smith’s, and William Alexander’s.
Jan 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
The 6th grade sub-committee of the district's Middle School Literature Selection Committee has chosen this title as one of its core lit titles (along with D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths), so as a committee member myself, I wanted to make sure I had read this one too. I appreciated the diverse voices presented in this short story collection. ...more
Jan 30, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of short stories about “ordinary heroes.” Many of the stories are thoughtful; a few I kind of skimmed through. I might use 2-3 in class as mentor texts to discuss the idea of “heroes.” Some stories just didn’t grab me at all, but I’m guessing they would grab someone.
A collection of short stories aimed at middle school students. Most of the stories were interesting and entertaining with thoughtful lessons. My favorite has to be the one where a boy convinces his friend to not turn in an essay from the Internet because "Teachers know how to Google, too." ...more
Mrs. Owens
A collection of short stories aimed at middle school students. Most of the stories were interesting and entertaining with thoughtful lessons. My favorite has to be the one where a boy convinces his friend to not turn in an essay from the Internet because "Teachers know how to Google, too." ...more
Katie Krombein
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
Collection of short stories. My kids read a few and were unimpressed. I read them all and liked some of them....I also liked the foreword about every day heroes in our midst. My favorites were Reina Madrid by RJ Palacio; Thrown by Mike Jung; and Los Abuelos, Two Bright Minds by Juana Medina.
More great stories from the hot middle grade and YA authors today. Everyone WNDB puts out is gold. This series of shorts stories about heroes from nerdy girls running a corn stand at the farmer's market to various mom-daughter duos has something for everyone! ...more
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Last read of 2019, amazing collection of short stories that I can’t wait to bring to my 4th and 5th graders.
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