One of our recommended books for 2020 is Sunnyside Plaza by Scott Simon

SUNNYSIDE PLAZA


Wonder meets Three Times Lucky in a story of empowerment as a young woman decides to help solve the mystery of multiple suspicious deaths in her group home.

Sally Miyake can’t read, but she learns lots of things. Like bricks are made of clay and Vitamin D comes from the sun. Sally is happy working in the kitchen at Sunnyside Plaza, the community center she lives in with other adults with developmental disabilities. For Sally and her friends, Sunnyside is the only home they’ve ever known.

Everything changes the day a resident unexpectedly dies.

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Wonder meets Three Times Lucky in a story of empowerment as a young woman decides to help solve the mystery of multiple suspicious deaths in her group home.

Sally Miyake can’t read, but she learns lots of things. Like bricks are made of clay and Vitamin D comes from the sun. Sally is happy working in the kitchen at Sunnyside Plaza, the community center she lives in with other adults with developmental disabilities. For Sally and her friends, Sunnyside is the only home they’ve ever known.

Everything changes the day a resident unexpectedly dies. After a series of tragic events, detectives Esther Rivas and Lon Bridges begin asking questions. Are the incidents accidents? Or is something more disturbing happening?

The suspicious deaths spur the residents into taking the investigation into their own hands. But are people willing to listen?

Sunnyside Plaza is a human story of empowerment, empathy, hope, and generosity that shines a light on this very special world.

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  • Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Hardcover
  • January 2020
  • 208 Pages
  • 9780316531207

Buy the Book

$16.99

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About Scott Simon

Scott Simon has won every major award in broadcasting for his personal essays, war reporting, and commentary. He has reported from all fifty states, scores of foreign countries, and eight wars. He hosts Weekend Edition with Scott Simon Saturday mornings on National Public Radio (which the Washington Post has called “the most literate, witty, moving, and just plain interesting news show on any dial”) and numerous public television and cable programs. He currently resides in Washington, D.C.

Twitter: @nprscottsimon

Discussion Questions

1. How does Sal Gal perceive the world around her? What examples can you think of where she takes in the world around her through the five senses?

2. How do children react to meeting Sally and the other residents of Sunnyside Plaza? Do those reactions change based on the behavior of the adults around them and if so, how?

3. At the Passover Seder, everyone discusses the destinations of the Hebrews and other refugees. Who else in the book finds a new home or life? How do different cultures come together throughout the book?

4. Conrad explains to Sally that “sometimes, much as we love them, we just aren’t the best people to be able to help the people we love” (p. 119). What different kinds of caregiving are discussed throughout the book? How does Sally think of her mother?

5. At each stop on their journey to the police station, the residents of Sunnyside Plaza encounter different types of people. How do these people engage with the residents? What behaviors do you think made Sally and her friends feel welcomed?

6. How do the residents of Sunnyside Plaza work together? What strengths do they each bring to the table?

7. What does family mean to the residents of Sunnyside Plaza? How does this definition change over the course of the book?

8. Sal Gal is confronted by death and dying several times throughout the book. How does she cope with death? How do she and the other residents of Sunnyside Plaza grapple with what comes after death?

9. Sally maintains a very open and welcoming personality. What examples can you think of where Sally makes other people feel more comfortable? What other ways does she impact the people around her?

10. Esther tells Sally that “sometimes life puts people in front of you because you’re not supposed to just walk past them” (p. 189). Which characters in the book best illustrate this idea? How can you live this in your daily life?