When the World Turned Upside Down

Nobody expected a tiny little virus to change the whole world in such a big way, especially not Shayla, Liam, Ai, and Ben. But when school closes to keep everyone safe, their lives turn upside down. It is one thing to learn that the outside world isn’t safe, but why does it seem that the virus is causing trouble inside their homes too?

As they each struggle to adjust to life in quarantine, they discover they are not alone: their apartment building is full of people who need their help. Working together, they begin to ease each other’s challenges and help their neighbors through tough times. By cooperating, they learn that there is power in numbers. It’s a lesson they’ll need when protests explode in the streets and each friend will have to decide what it means to be part of a community—and how much they’re willing to do to make this world safer for everyone.

Set against the onset of COVID, When the World Turned Upside Down follows four friends as they navigate issues of safety and social justice—and discover the power and comfort that friendship, generosity, and togetherness can bring.

Meet the Characters
Sayla, character from When the World Turned Upside Down

Loves: Roller skating
Hates: Lectures
Most likely to: Daydream in class
Fun fact: Shayla builds futuristic gadgets with her engineering toys
Gift: Always brings adventure to the friendship

Liam, character from When the World Turned Upside Down

Loves: Music
Hates: Fighting
Most likely to: Bring his twin sisters to the park
Fun fact: Liam knows how to change diapers and burp babies
Gift: Always brings togetherness to the friendship

Ai, character from When the World Turned Upside Down

Loves: Drawing
Hates: Bullies
Most likely to: Decorate the closet door of her bedroom
Fun fact: Ai never buys birthday cards because she makes them all by hand
Gift: Always brings helpfulness to the friendship

Ben, character from When the World Turned Upside Down

Loves: Making charts
Hates: Losing
Most likely to: Create a climate chart to track the weather outside his window
Fun fact: Ben loves to cook. His favorite dessert is flan
Gift: Always brings solutions to the friendship

When the World Turned Upside Down

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Cover art by Ebony Glenn

Praise for When the World Turned Upside Down

“As clear-eyed as it is engaging, as timely as it is timeless. I fell in love with every single student in this book. And days after reading it, each of them remains with me.”

Jacqueline Woodson, MacArthur Fellow and 2018–2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

“A heartwarming call to action.”

Kirkus Reviews

“A beautifully written story that will inspire young readers to work for positive change even in times of turmoil and stress. This book reminds readers that all of us can make an impact and find ways to shine bright.”

Angela Cervantes, Lety Out Loud, Pura Belpré Honor winner

“A hope-filled book dealing with the struggles children face in extraordinary times, K. Ibura has crafted a story perfect for young readers looking to make sense of current events. Timely and important.”

Adrianna Cuevas, The Total Eclipse of Nestor López, Pura Belpré Honor winner