Alina in a Pinch
This short chapter book features Alina, a kind and empathetic girl who is having trouble fitting in at her new school in Calgary because of her Afro-Indian culture. After receiving some mean anonymous notes from classmates, she is embarrassed to eat the food her grandmother cooks for lunch. However, she loves cooking with her beloved Nani after school, eventually winning a spot in a Junior Chef contest and having a cooking show on YouTube. The book broaches themes of racism, multiculturalism, and acceptance but also highlights how Alina can be proud of her heritage by sharing her culture and food with her new friends. The book supports many components of the Grade 2–5 curriculum and lends itself as a classroom read-aloud, inviting discussion about multiculturalism and inclusion. Teachers could use the story to segue into an inquiry about students’ individual and unique family traditions, culture, and heritages.