Book Review: Love, Sugar, Magic: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano

 

Review by Cecilia Cackley

DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK: Leonora Logroño’s family owns the most beloved bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, spending their days conjuring delicious cookies and cakes for any occasion. And no occasion is more important than the annual Dia de los Muertos festival.

Leo hopes that this might be the year that she gets to help prepare for the big celebration—but, once again, she is told she’s too young. Sneaking out of school and down to the bakery, she discovers that her mother, aunt, and four older sisters have in fact been keeping a big secret: they’re brujas—witches of Mexican ancestry—who pour a little bit of sweet magic into everything that they bake.

Leo knows that she has magical ability as well and is more determined than ever to join the family business—even if she can’t let her mama and hermanas know about it yet.

And when her best friend, Caroline, has a problem that needs solving, Leo has the perfect opportunity to try out her craft. It’s just one little spell, after all…what could possibly go wrong?

MY TWO CENTS: While we’ve had a strong list of Latinx YA fantasy and magical realism books building for some time, most middle grade books by Latinx authors tend to fall into the genres of realistic fiction or historical fiction. So I was absolutely delighted to read this series opener by Anna Meriano which gives a traditional literary fantasy arc a Latinx, and specifically Mexican-American, voice. Meriano riffs on so many tropes here, including the family with a secret, the youngest child who is desperate to be included, and the sorcerer’s (here, bruja’s) apprentice whose attempts at magic go awry.

One of my favorite things about this book is how the author creates a protagonist who doesn’t speak Spanish (her abuela, who looked after her older sisters and taught them Spanish, died when she was little) and uses it as an obstacle that drives the plot. Magic spells are written in Spanish, so it makes sense that Leo struggles with following them—but also that she perseveres and sees them as her birthright. Not all Latinx kids in the US speak Spanish, for a variety of reasons, and I loved seeing that incorporated into the narrative.

The family relationships in this book are just outstanding. Each sister is individual, and the conflicts between them feel real and lived. I would read an entire book about Marisol and her journey. Meriano doesn’t take the easy way out by having the parents absent or conveniently clueless for most of the narrative, instead making Leo sneak around, constantly worried that her magical efforts will be found out. Of course she is wrong, and the consequences are my favorite part of the book. Leo has to work to fix her mistakes. There is no waving a wand or finding the right words or having a mentor pick up the pieces. She has help, (some of it from an…interesting…source) but she has to do the heavy lifting and figure out the steps to reverse the effects of her spells. Magic systems are tricky to write, and I appreciate that Meriano has created a world with clear rules and expectations, even if they can be bent or broken occasionally.

I would go so far as to say this book is a textbook example of a story that includes specific cultural details, holidays, and language without having them be the focus of the book. So much pop culture centered around Latinx characters uses the Day of the Dead celebrations as an entry and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it gets old after awhile. I loved how Meriano uses the Day of the Dead festival as a set piece, (it’s nice to see how the Logroño family aren’t outsiders in their town), but the book itself isn’t about Day of the Dead. Being a bruja has nothing to do with Day of the Dead. Being Mexican-American is about more than Day of the Dead, a fact that some in the media have yet to grasp.

My favorite line in this book is what Mamá tells Leo when she asks what it means to be a witch.

“A witch can be anyone. A bruja is us. And what does it mean to be a bruja? That’s like asking what it means to be a Texan, or a girl, or curly haired. It doesn’t mean anything by itself. It’s part of you. Then you decide what it means.”

I’m so thrilled that young kids, just hitting middle school, struggling with their identity, will have Leo and her family to make them laugh and guide them to a better understanding of who they are who they want to be in the world.

TEACHING TIPS: There is so much to unpack here for a literature circle or book group at a school. Leo makes lots of choices, which have consequences for many different people, so students can have a field day debating what she should or shouldn’t have done at many different points in the story. Spanish classes, start translating some of those spells! Students could test some of the recipes in the back of the book and bring in their efforts to share with classmates (there is even a gluten-free option). The fantasy elements of the book provide a means for students to write personal narratives imagining themselves into that world: what magical power would you like to have? What are the pros and cons of Isabel’s power versus Alma and Belén’s?

Image result for anna merianoABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anna Meriano grew up in Houston with an older brother and a younger brother, but (tragically) no sisters. She graduated from Rice University with a degree in English and earned her MFA in creative writing with an emphasis on writing for children from the New School in New York. She has taught creative writing and high school English and works as a writing tutor. Anna likes reading, knitting, playing full-contact quidditch, and singing along to songs in English, Spanish, and ASL. Anna still lives in Houston with her dog, Cisco. Her favorite baked goods are the kind that don’t fly away before you eat them.

RESOURCES: 

Interview with us about being a middle grade author: https://latinosinkidlit.com/2018/01/05/spotlight-on-middle-grade-authors-part-3-anna-meriano/

Interview on BNKids blog: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/kids/baking-brujas-interview-anna-meriano-love-sugar-magic-dash-trouble/

Excerpt on EW: http://ew.com/books/2017/06/29/love-sugar-magic-dash-of-trouble-excerpt/

Pitch America interview: https://pitchamerica.wordpress.com/2017/07/10/interview-with-anna-meriano-author-of-love-sugar-magic/

 

ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Cecilia Cackley is a performing artist and children’s bookseller based in Washington DC where she creates puppet theater for adults and teaches playwriting and creative drama to children. Her bilingual children’s plays have been produced by GALA Hispanic Theatre and her interests in bilingual education, literacy, and immigrant advocacy all tend to find their way into her theatrical work. You can find more of her work at www.witsendpuppets.com.

Book Review: Us, In Progress: Short Stories About Young Latinos

 

Review by Jessica Walsh

DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK: Acclaimed author and Pura Belpré Award honoree Lulu Delacre’s beautifully illustrated collection of twelve short stories is a groundbreaking look at the diverse Latinxs who live in the United States.

In this book, you will meet many young Latinxs living in the United States, from a young girl whose day at her father’s burrito truck surprises her to two sisters working together to change the older sister’s immigration status, and more.

Turn the pages to experience life through the eyes of these boys and girls whose families originally hail from many different countries; see their hardships, celebrate their victories, and come away with a better understanding of what it means to be Latino in the U.S. today.

MY TWO CENTS: There are twelve stories in this collection, each a beautiful snapshot of life, family, tragedy, and transformation. Each story is inspired by real events and people, some the author knew personally. Included at the end of the book are links to the original articles that inspired each story. The stories begin with a refrán, a familiar Spanish saying that connects with the paired story. A mixed-media portrait also accompanies each story, further personalizing the characters for the reader. Each portrait is intentionally left unfinished to illustrate the idea that each person is a work in progress.

Here is just a peek at a few of the twelve vibrant stories in the collection.

Emilio and José begin this collection in “The Attack.” Twin brothers, whose emotions are closely tied together, watch as their mother works tirelessly to support their older brother’s epilepsy needs. As the story opens, we find out that the twins’ brother, Tony, has been experiencing more and more frequent seizures, and this becomes the source of the main conflict in “The Attack.” During one violent seizure, Tony — holding a knife for cutting fruit — unintentionally harms himself. Frightened, the twins call 911, and soon, officers arrive on the scene to find a bleeding Tony, knife in hand. Then, through a series of miscommunications, an officer is injured, and Tony is charged with assault on an officer. The family is then faced with the uncertainty of what a lawsuit will mean for their family and their lives in the United States. In this short opener, I was brought into the fabric of this family’s heartaches and struggles and I found myself heartbroken fabout they choices they face.

In “Selfie,” 13-year-old Marla is desperate to avoid the same fate as her mother, dependent on insulin shots to treat her diabetes. Showing signs of pre-diabetes, Marla is self-conscious about the dark patches that develop on her skin. She is particularly sensitive to the dark patches showing up when she and her friends take photos and selfies. She knows that a healthy diet and exercise are key, but healthy food is expensive and can’t often be found at the Food 4 Less, the discount market where Marla’s Mamá shops the sales once a month. So, when an opportunity to work her way toward a bike of her own comes up at the local bike club, Marla tries to convince her mother to let her make the 40-minute bus ride by herself. With the help of a supportive teacher and the hope that her Mamá will give her blessing, Marla begins to see how much strength she has.

If you haven’t fallen in love with the collection yet, you will in “Burrito Man,” the fourth story in the collection. On Take Our Daughters to Work Day, Alex wishes she could be anywhere but with her father, “just a food-cart vendor.” Up at 4 a.m., Alex thinks about her friends enjoying air-conditioned offices instead of melting in the heat and being bombarded by the sounds of traffic all day. But Alex’s disappointment doesn’t get her Papi down; he tells her it is going to be a great day because of her. As the day goes on, and the temperatures rise, Alex is floored as one customer after another not only greets her Papi like family, but seems honored to meet “the famous Alex!” Alex is impressed by the way her father treats his customers, remembering minute details about their lives. She is equally embarrassed to find out that her father gushes about her regularly to these strangers. However, teenage humiliation is transformed into pride by the end of the story for what her father has built on his corner.

In “Band-Aid,” we find Elena, whose world is turned upside down when her Papi is picked up by la migra and deported to Honduras. She not only has to face the devastating loss of her father, but also her home, school, and best friend when her mother is forced to move her family and work long hours to make ends meet. Soon, hope arrives in the form of la gran madre, Doña Sánchez. Elena’s mother knows that her children, US citizens, would be safe under the care of la gran madre if she were to be deported. But safety comes in the form of signing over legal guardianship to Doña Sánchez. Elena agonizes at the thought of her family being further torn apart, but she knows the decision lies with her mother. This important story shines in this collection as a beautiful and tragic reminder of what politics is doing to families living here.

“Pickup Soccer,” written in verse, at first, seems to be just a fun ode to fútbol. The narrator, Hugo, wants to be a famous commentator, and we see his neighborhood through his eyes as he and his cousin Hector make their way to the “old neighborhood field.” But, look closer, and you will see that in Hugo’s fast-paced descriptions are signs of of gentrification in the Mission neighborhood. Soon, the neighborhood kids are faced with being kicked off the field by techie start-up guys, including Hugo’s cousin Hector, brandishing a reservation permit through the new City of San Francisco app. Insults start flying, and Hugo knows he must think on his feet, like a true sports commentator, to help both sides coexist on and off the field.

The collection closes with “90,000 Children,” a transformative story about a young boy, Frank, dreaming of the day when he can follow in his father’s footsteps as a border patrol agent. The story’s title references the statistic shared by Frank’s father, that 90,000 unaccompanied minors would be entering the United States by the end of the year. One day, while out with his father, Frank encounters a young girl by herself outside of a saloon. He is drawn to her and further intrigued by an illustration she shows him of a beautiful landscape, an illustration she gives him to keep. After that day, Frank can’t stop thinking about the girl, and what became of her. He struggles with his complex feelings of prejudice toward immigrants and awe at his impression of the young girl after spending only a few moments with her. Woven throughout this story are the complexities of discrimination not only between Frank and the people his father encounters every day, but the discrimination at play in Frank’s own family, between verdadero Francisco Spanish blood and Mayan “indiecitos,” as Frank’s grandfather says. Frank’s transformation is not only evident in his changing actions and words, but in his perception of the work his father does at the border.

This book in the hands of kids is an exciting prospect. Individually, you could delve into each character’s story, reveling in the rich development of character, place, and voice. As a whole, imagine the conversations around Lulu Delacre’s robust writing. Further, readers will be captivated with the true elements of these works, all found in the “Notes on the Individual Stories” section at the back of the book. But let’s end with the front of the book. The beautiful cover artwork, in combination with the title, sends a message to all of our kids that this book is for all of us.

 Lulu Delacre Media Photo 1 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Three-time Pura Belpré Award honoree Lulu Delacre has been writing and illustrating children’s books since 1980. Born and raised in Puerto Rico to Argentinean parents, Delacre says her Latino heritage and her life experiences inform her work. Her 37 titles include Arroz con Leche: Popular Songs and Rhymes from Latin America, a Horn Book Fanfare Book in print for over 25 years; and Salsa Stories, an IRA Outstanding International Book. Her bilingual picture book ¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! Descubriendo el bosque nublado; Olinguito, from A to Z! Unveiling the Cloud Forest has received 20 awards and honors including an NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor and an ALA Notable for All Ages. Her most recent title, is Us, in Progress: Short Stories About Young Latinos. Delacre has lectured internationally and served as a juror for the National Book Awards. She has exhibited at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art; The Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators in New York; the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico and the Museum of Ponce in Puerto Rico among other venues.

Us, In Progress: Short Stories About Young Latinos has been recognized as a Kirkus Best Book of 2017, a New York Public Libraries Best Book of 2017 and a Los Angeles Public Libraries Best book of 2017. It has also been awarded a Malka Penn Honor for Human Rights in Children’s Literature.

Spotlight on Middle Grade Authors Part 5: Angela Cervantes

 

By Cindy L. Rodriguez

This is the fifth in an occasional series about middle grade Latinx authors. We decided to shine a spotlight on middle grade writers and their novels because, often, they are “stuck in the middle”–sandwiched between and overlooked for picture books and young adult novels. The middle grades are a crucial time in child development socially, emotionally, and academically. The books that speak to these young readers tend to have lots of heart and great voices that capture all that is awkward and brilliant about that time.

Today, we highlight Angela Cervantes.

Her latest middle grade novel, Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring releases tomorrow!! Go get this book with the beautiful cover and awesome premise. Here’s a little more about it:

A room locked for fifty years.
A valuable peacock ring.
A mysterious brother-sister duo.
Paloma Marquez is traveling to Mexico City, birthplace of her deceased father, for the very first time. She’s hoping that spending time in Mexico will help her unlock memories of the too-brief time they spent together.
While in Mexico, Paloma meets Lizzie and Gael, who present her with an irresistible challenge: The siblings want her to help them find a valuable ring that once belonged to beloved Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Finding the ring means a big reward — and the thanks of all Mexico. What better way to honor her father than returning a priceless piece of jewelry that once belonged to his favorite artist. But the brother and sister have a secret. Do they really want to return the ring, or are they after something else entirely?

And now more about Angela: She is the beloved and award-winning author of several middle grade fiction novels. Her first novel, Gaby, Lost and Found, was named Best Youth Chapter book by the International Latino Book Awards and a Bank Street College of Education’s Best Books of 2014. Angela’s second middle grade novel, Allie, First At Last, received a starred-review from Kirkus and was a finalist for Florida’s Sunshine State Young Readers Award. Angela’s next middle-grade novel is the junior novelization of Disney Pixar’s animated film, Coco, was released in October 2017. Angela’s fourth novel, Me, Frida and the Secret of the Peacock Ring, will be released by Scholastic on March 27, 2018.

Angela Cervantes

Q. Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

A. My love for books inspired me to be a writer. Books were my first friends, and I relied on them to get me through some tough times, like my parents’ divorce, the loss of my abuelos, and issues around poverty. At an early age, I decided that I wanted to tell stories about girls like me. There’s nothing else I’ve ever wanted to be in my life.

Q. Why do you choose to write middle grade novels?

A. It was my agent, Adriana Domínguez at Full Circle Literary who diagnosed me with a promising voice for middle grade fiction. Once I let that soak in, I knew she was right. I dived head-first, and I’m so happy I did, because I love middle grade novels and writing for middle grade students.

Q. What are some of your favorite middle grade novels?

A. How much time do you have? There are so many! Growing up, I was obsessed with the Narnia Chronicles by C.S. Lewis. They are still my all-time favorite books. More recently, I’m a big fan of Rita Williams-Garcia. Her books, One Crazy Summer and P.S. Be Eleven are amazing. Other faves that I’ve read recently include Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan; The Smoking Mirror (Book One) by David Bowles; Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper; Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai; Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson and The First Rule of Punk by Celia Pérez. I also love, love, love Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe García McCall.

Q. If you could give your middle-grade self some advice, what would it be?

A. Don’t throw away your stories. They’re not stupid. Someday, you’ll wish you could read them again. 🙂

Q. Please finish this sentence: Middle grade novels are important because…

A. Middle grade novels are important because young people need a safe place to let their dreams, curiosities and imagination play.

 

   

 

 

photo by Saryna A. Jones

Cindy L. Rodriguez was a newspaper reporter for The Hartford Courant and researcher at The Boston Globe before becoming a public school teacher. She is now a reading specialist at a Connecticut middle school. Cindy is a U.S.-born Latina of Puerto Rican and Brazilian descent. She has degrees from UConn and CCSU. Her debut contemporary YA novel, When Reason Breaks, released with Bloomsbury Children’s Books (2015). She will have an essay in Life Inside My Mind, which releases 4/10/2018 with Simon Pulse. She can also be found on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Spotlight on Middle Grade Authors Part 4: Pablo Cartaya

 

By Cindy L. Rodriguez

This is the fourth in an occasional series about middle grade Latinx authors. We decided to shine a spotlight on middle grade writers and their novels because, often, they are “stuck in the middle”–sandwiched between and overlooked for picture books and young adult novels. The middle grades are a crucial time in child development socially, emotionally, and academically. The books that speak to these young readers tend to have lots of heart and great voices that capture all that is awkward and brilliant about that time.

Today, we highlight Pablo Cartaya.

Pablo Cartaya is the author of the acclaimed middle-grade novel, The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora (Viking, 2017); Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish (Viking, 2018); and two forthcoming titles in 2019 and 2020 also to be published by VikingHe is a Publisher’s Weekly “Flying Start” and has received starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and Publisher’s Weekly. For his performance recording the audiobook of his novel, Pablo received an Earphone Award from Audiofile Magazine and a Publisher’s Weekly Audiobooks starred review. He is the co-author of the picture book, Tina Cocolina: Queen of the Cupcakes (Random House, 2010), a contributor to the literary magazine, Miami Rail; the Spanish language editorial, Suburbano Ediciones; and a translator for the poetry chapbook, Cinco Poemas/Five Poems based on the work of poet Hyam Plutzik. Pablo visits schools and universities throughout the US and currently serves as faculty at Sierra Nevada College’s MFA in Creative Writing. www.pablocartaya.com / Twitter: @phcartaya

Pablo Cartaya

Q. Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

A. I’ve been a storyteller since I was a little kid performing originally written shows in my living room every time my parents had someone over for dinner. During cena I would quietly (sometimes not so quietly) go over story ideas that would lead to epic performances en la sala while the guests and my parents ate dessert and sipped cafécito on the sofa. My parents always encouraged that creative spirit. In many ways, Mami and Papi were my first inspirations. Since those early days I’ve always had stories swirling around my imagination. These stories have taken many forms over the years: writing plays, teleplays, telenovelas, picture books, nonfiction, poetry (sometimes really bad poetry), and then one fateful day in graduate school, the voice of a fourteen year old Cuban American kid named Arturo made his way into my consciousness. It was the first time I let the character in the story do the talking. What I found was a kid who was like me and who had dared to dream himself into the narrative. The process of discovering Arturo’s world has been one of the great joys of my creative life. In a way, The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora is a lifetime in the making of becoming the writer I am today.

Q. Why do you choose to write middle grade novels?

A. I don’t actually choose to write middle grade novels. It’s more like a bunch of thirteen and fourteen year olds make the loudest noise in my sub consciousness. I believe writing is an act of submission to the fictive state. Allowing a story or a character to take hold and dictate the terms of what, when, where, and how the narrative will go. As the writer I give in and let the character tell me what he or she wants to talk about. It’s frightening at times but there is something about that act of discovery that is exciting and enlightening. A character usually pops into my head and a scene plays out. For example, in my next novel, Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish, I imagined this really tall, brooding fourteen year old trying to convince his little brother who has Down syndrome to take a bath. From there, I started asking these characters questions and they revealed parts of their lives they wanted to tell. After that it’s all about revising, revising, and more revising to get to the heart of the character’s story.

Q. What are some of your favorite middle grade novels?

A. Ah! This question is always the hardest! How do you pick a favorite child? You can’t do it! Okay I’ll name some but they are by no means a final list! We’ll just call it a fluid favorite, okay? As a kid I devoured everything Jules Verne – Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is one of my all time favorites although I don’t know if it qualifies as distinctly middle grade. I also think it’s important to recognize the great work contemporary middle grade authors are writing. Jason Reynolds is doing some pretty incredible work. I just finished Patina and it’s awesome. Celía Perez has a kick butt middle grade out called The First Rule of Punk, Rita Williams Garcia’s Clayton Bird Goes Underground is fantastic. I happen to adore R.J. Palacio because Wonder was the first novel my daughter read from beginning to end and it made her a lover of books. There are so many! Make me stop! Make me stop! I see a great mix of characters and stories out there and I’m excited for what’s to come from these and many other brilliant authors in the field.

Q. If you could give your middle-grade self some advice, what would it be?

A. Don’t be afraid to fail. You are not perfect nor should you try to be. Find your voice and hold onto it for dear life. Is that too much advice? Would my thirteen-year-old self just ignore me? Probably.

Q. Please finish this sentence: “Middle grade novels are important because…”

A. They are sneaky deep. It’s the time where wonder, adventure, occasional failure, and the possibilities of happiness coexist to create a sense of hope for the future. It’s also a place where kids get to be kids and goof off from time to time. I like that mix.

 

epicfail.jpeg

 

 

photo by Saryna A. JonesCindy L. Rodriguez was a newspaper reporter for The Hartford Courant and researcher at The Boston Globe before becoming a public school teacher. She is now a reading specialist at a Connecticut middle school. Cindy is a U.S.-born Latina of Puerto Rican and Brazilian descent. She has degrees from UConn and CCSU. Her debut contemporary YA novel, When Reason Breaks, released with Bloomsbury Children’s Books (2015). She will have an essay in Life Inside My Mind, which releases 4/10/2018 with Simon Pulse. She can also be found on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

2018 Titles By/For/About Latinx!!

 

 

AHHHH! we’re so excited about 2018! You will be, too, once you see the list below. Get your To-Be-Read lists out….Here are the 75+ titles we know about that are releasing in 2018 that are by/for/about Latinx . We plan to review as many of these as we can, so please check the site often or follow the blog for updates.  The coming year brings new books from so many of our favorite creators along with exciting debuts from Anna Meriano, NoNieqa Ramos, Mark Oshiro, Kristina Pérez, Juleah del Rosario, and Elizabeth Acevedo, among others. The books are listed by the publishing date. Please let us know in the comments if we are missing any!

HAPPY READING!

 

LOVE, SUGAR, MAGIC: A DASH OF TROUBLE by Anna Meriano, illus by Mirelle Ortega (Walden Pond Press, January 2, 2018). Middle Grade. Leonora Logrono’s family owns the most beloved bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, spending their days conjuring delicious cookies and cakes for any occasion. And no occasion is more important than the annual Dia de los Muertos festival. Leo hopes that this might be the year that she gets to help prepare for the big celebration–but, once again, she is told she’s too young. Sneaking out of school and down to the bakery, she discovers that her mother, aunt, and four older sisters have in fact been keeping a big secret: they’re brujas–witches of Mexican ancestry–who pour a little bit of sweet magic into everything that they bake. Leo knows that she has magical ability as well and is more determined than ever to join the family business–even if she can’t let her mama and hermanas know about it yet. And when her best friend, Caroline, has a problem that needs solving, Leo has the perfect opportunity to try out her craft. It’s just one little spell, after all…what could possibly go wrong?

OUR REVIEW:  https://latinosinkidlit.com/2018/05/17/book-review-love-sugar-magic-a-dash-of-trouble-by-anna-meriano/

 

 

35356379LOVE by Matt de la Peña, illus by Loren Long (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, January 9, 2018). Picture Book. In this heartfelt celebration of love, Newbery Medal-winning author Matt de la Peña and bestselling illustrator Loren Long depict the many ways we experience this universal bond, which carries us from the day we are born throughout the years of our childhood and beyond. With a lyrical text that’s soothing and inspiring, this tender tale is a needed comfort and a new classic that will resonate with readers of every age.

 

 

 

Stella Diaz Has Something to Say CoverSTELLA DIAZ HAS SOMETHING TO SAY by Angela Dominguez (Roaring Brook Press, January 16, 2018). Middle Grade. Stella Diaz loves marine animals, especially her beta fish, Pancho. But Stella Diaz is not a beta fish. Beta fish like to be alone, while Stella loves spending time with her mom and brother and her best friend Jenny. Trouble is, Jenny is in another class this year, and Stella feels very lonely. When a new boy arrives in Stella’s class, she really wants to be his friend, but sometimes Stella accidentally speaks Spanish instead of English and pronounces words wrong, which makes her turn roja. Plus, she has to speak in front of her whole class for a big presentation at school. But she better get over her fears soon, because Stella Diaz has something to say.

 

 

35566709STORMSPEAKER (Spirit Animals: Fall of the Beasts #7) by Christina Diaz Gonzalez (Scholastic, January 30, 2018). Middle Grade.

 

 

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lolalevine_no es malaLOLA LEVINE ¡NO ES MALA! by Monica Brown, illus bu Angela Dominguez (Little Brown/Scholastic, January 2018). Chapter Book. The first in the award-winning chapter book series, Lola Levine is Not Mean, is now available in a Spanish edition from Scholastic book clubs.

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THE DISTURBED GIRL’S DICTIONARY by NoNieqa Ramos (Carolrhoda Books, February 1, 2018). Young Adult. Macy’s school officially classifies her as “disturbed,” but Macy isn’t interested in how others define her. She’s got more pressing problems: her mom can’t move off the couch, her dad’s in prison, her brother’s been kidnapped by Child Protective Services, and now her best friend isn’t speaking to her. Writing in a dictionary format, Macy explains the world in her own terms–complete with gritty characters and outrageous endeavors. With an honesty that’s both hilarious and fearsome, slowly Macy reveals why she acts out, why she can’t tell her incarcerated father that her mom’s cheating on him, and why her best friend needs protection . . . the kind of protection that involves Macy’s machete.

OUR REVIEW: latinosinkidlit.com/2018/01/25/book-review-the-disturbed-girls-dictionary-by-nonieqa-ramos/

 

 

27414411PITCH DARK by Courtney Alameda (Feiwel & Friends, February 20, 2018). Young Adult. Lost to time, Tuck Morgan and his crew have slept in stasis aboard the USS John Muir for centuries. Their ship harbors a chunk of Earth, which unbeknownst to them, is the last hope for the failing human race. Laura Cruz is a shipraider searching the galaxy for the history that was scattered to the stars. Once her family locates the John Muir and its precious cargo, they are certain human civilization is saved. When Tuck’s and Laura’s worlds collide–literally–the two teens must outwit their enemies, evade brutal monsters that kill with sound, and work together to save the John Muir . . . and the whole human race.

OUR REVIEW: https://latinosinkidlit.com/2018/02/05/book-review-pitch-dark-by-courtney-alameda/

 

 

 

FLIGHT SEASON by Marie Marquardt (Wednesday Books, February 20, 2018). Young Adult/New Adult. Back when they were still strangers, TJ Carvalho witnessed the only moment in Vivi Flannigan’s life when she lost control entirely. Now, TJ can’t seem to erase that moment from his mind, no matter how hard he tries. Vivi doesn’t remember any of it, but she’s determined to leave it far behind. And she will. But when Vivi returns home from her first year away at college, her big plans and TJ’s ambition to become a nurse land them both on the heart ward of a university hospital, facing them with a long and painful summer together – three months of glorified babysitting for Angel, the problem patient on the hall. Sure, Angel may be suffering from a life-threatening heart infection, but that doesn’t make him any less of a pain. As it turns out, though, Angel Solis has a thing or two to teach them about all those big plans, and the incredible moments when love gets in their way. Written in alternating first person from the perspectives of all three characters, Flight Season is a story about discovering what’s really worth holding onto, learning how to let go of the rest, and that one crazy summer that changes your life forever.

 

 

 

THE POET X by Elizabeth Acevedo (Harper Teen, March 6, 2018). Young Adult. Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking. But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers–especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can’t stop thinking about performing her poems. Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

OUR REVIEW: https://latinosinkidlit.com/2018/03/08/book-review-the-poet-x-by-elizabeth-acevedo/

 

 

34921589LIES THAT BIND by Diana Rodriguez Wallach (Entangled Teen, March 6, 2018). Young Adult. Still reeling from everything she learned while searching for her sister in Italy, Anastasia Phoenix is ready to call it quits with spies. Then she and her friends learn that Marcus’s—her kinda boyfriend—brother, Antonio, has also gone missing. Luckily, they track down Antonio in a fiery festival in England, only to learn he has been working for the enemy, Department D, the whole time. But Antonio wants out. And so does Anastasia. But before any of them can leave espionage and their parents’ crimes behind them, a close friend turns up dead. No one is safe, not while Department D still exists. So Anastasia and her friends embark on a dangerous plan to bring down an entire criminal empire, using every Dresden Kid they can find. As their world becomes surrounded by spies, and the children of spies, Anastasia starts to question who she can really trust, including her best friends. OUR REVIEW: Coming Soon

 

 

THE FLYING GIRL: How Aída de Acosta Learned to Soar by Margarita Engle, illus by Sara Palacios (Antheneum Books for Young Readers, March 6, 2018). Picture Book. On a lively street in the lovely city of Paris, a girl named Aída glanced up and was dazzled by the sight of an airship. Oh, how she wished she could soar through the sky like that. The inventor of the airship, Alberto, invited Aída to ride with him, but she didn’t want to be a passenger. She wanted to be the pilot. Aída was just a teenager, and no woman or girl had ever flown before. She didn’t let that stop her, though. All she needed was courage and a chance to try.

 

 

 

THE FIELD by Baptiste Paul and debut illustrator Jacqueline Alcantara (NorthSouth Books, March 6, 2018). Picture Book.

When a tropical rain storm threatens a game of pick-up futbol in an island community, is the soccer game over? Based on the author’s experiences growing up in St. Lucia. In a starred review, Kirkus Reviews calls Paul and Alcantara’s excellent picture book debut, “irresistible fun”.

 

 

 

ISLANDBORN by Junot Díaz, illus by Leo Espinosa (Dial Books, March 13, 2018). Picture BookEvery kid in Lola’s school was from somewhere else. Hers was a school of faraway places. So when Lola’s teacher asks the students to draw a picture of where their families immigrated from, all the kids are excited. Except Lola. She can’t remember The Island–she left when she was just a baby. But with the help of her family and friends, and their memories–joyous, fantastical, heartbreaking, and frightening–Lola’s imagination takes her on an extraordinary journey back to The Island. As she draws closer to the heart of her family’s story, Lola comes to understand the truth of her abuela’s words: “Just because you don’t remember a place doesn’t mean it’s not in you.”

 

 

HOW ARE YOU? / CÓMO ESTÁS? by Angela Dominguez (Henry Holt & Company, March 13, 2018). Picture Book. When two giraffe friends find a baby ostrich, they have some questions. Is baby ostrich hungry? Shy? Tired? Ostrich says no. So how does she feel? Friendship awaits in this book about feelings, expressed both in English and in Spanish.

 

 

 

JABBERWALKING by Juan Felipe Herrera (Candlewick Press, March 13, 2018). Middle Grade. U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera is sharing secrets: how to turn your wonder at the world around you into weird, wild, incandescent poetry. Can you walk and talk at the same time? How about Jabberwalk? Can you write and draw and walk and journal all at the same time? If not, you’re in luck: exuberant, blue-cheesy cilantro man Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of the United States, is here to teach you everything he knows about being a real-life, bonified, Jabberwalking poet Jabberwalkers write and speak for themselves and others no matter where their feet may take them — to Jabberwalk is to be a poet on the move. And there’s no stopping once you’re a Jabberwalker, writing fast, fast, fast, scribble-poem-burbles-on-the-run. Scribble what you see Scribble what you hear It’s all out there — vamonos. OUR REVIEW: Coming soon.

 

 

JOAN PROCTOR, DRAGON DOCTOR: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles by Patricia Valdez, illus by Felicita Sala. (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, March 13, 2018). Picture Book. While other girls played with dolls, Joan preferred the company of reptiles. She carried her favorite lizard with her everywhere–she even brought a crocodile to school. When Joan grew older, she became the Curator of Reptiles at the British Museum. She went on to design the Reptile House at the London Zoo, including a home for the rumored-to-be-vicious komodo dragons. There, just like when she was a little girl, Joan hosted children’s tea parties–with her komodo dragon as the guest of honor. With a lively text and vibrant illustrations, scientist and writer Patricia Valdez and illustrator Felicita Sala bring to life Joan Procter’s inspiring story of passion and determination. OUR REVIEW: Coming Soon

 

 

Moonstruck, Vol. 1 TPMOONSTRUCK by Grace Ellis, illus by Shae Beagle (Image Comics, March 21, 2018). Comics. Werewolf barista Julie and her new girlfriend go on a date to a close-up magic show, but all heck breaks loose when the magician casts a horrible spell on their friend Chet. Now it’s up to the team of mythical pals to stop the illicit illusionist before it’s too late. The first chapter of the brand-new, all-ages, magical, coffee-laden adventure from Lumberjanes creator Grace Ellis and talented newcomer Shae Beagle.

 

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SCI-FU by Yehudi Mercado (Oni Press, March 13, 2018). Comics. Hip-hop, sci-fi and kung fu all hit the turntables for the mash-up mix of the year Cartoonist/force of nature Yehudi Mercado (Pantalones, TXRocket Salvage) sets his sights on 1980s Brooklyn and Wax, a young mix-master who scratches the perfect beat and accidentally summons a UFO that transports his family, best friend, and current crush to the robot-dominated planet of Discopia. Now Wax and his crew must master the intergalactic musical martial art of Sci-Fu to fight the power and save Earth. Word to your mother. OUR REVIEW: Coming soon.

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.35825129EL VERANO DE LAS MARIPOSAS by Guadalupe Garcia McCall, translated by David Bowles (Tu Books, March 27, 2018). Young Adult. Odilia and her four sisters rival the mythical Odysseus in cleverness and courage as they embark on their own hero’s journey. After finding a drowned man floating in their secret swimming hole along the Rio Grande, the sisters trek across the border to bring the body to the man’s family in Mexico. But returning home turns into an odyssey of their own. Outsmarting mythical creatures, and with the supernatural aid of spectral La Llorona via a magical earring, Odilia and her little sisters make their way along a road of trials to make it to their long-lost grandmother’s house. Along the way, they must defeat a witch and her Evil Trinity: a wily warlock, a coven of vicious half-human barn owls, and the bloodthirsty chupacabras that prey on livestock. Can these fantastic trials prepare Odilia and her sisters for what happens when they face their final test, returning home to the real world, where goddesses and ghosts can no longer help them? Now in Spanish, the award-winning El verano de las mariposas (Summer of the Mariposas) is not just a magical Mexican American retelling of The Odyssey, it is a celebration of sisterhood and maternal love. OUR REVIEW: Coming Soon

 

 

ME, FRIDA, & THE SECRET OF THE PEACOCK RING by Angela Cervantes (Scholastic Press, March 27, 2018). Middle Grade. A room locked for fifty years. A valuable peacock ring. A mysterious brother-sister duo. Paloma Marquez is traveling to Mexico City, birthplace of her deceased father, for the very first time. She’s hoping that spending time in Mexico will help her unlock memories of the too-brief time they spent together. While in Mexico, Paloma meets Lizzie and Gael, who present her with an irresistible challenge: The siblings want her to help them find a valuable ring that once belonged to beloved Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Finding the ring means a big reward — and the thanks of all Mexico. What better way to honor her father than returning a priceless piece of jewelry that once belonged to his favorite artist. But the brother and sister have a secret. Do they really want to return the ring, or are they after something else entirely?

OUR REVIEW: Coming soon.

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QUIZÁS ALGO HERMOSO by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, illustrated by Rafael López (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, March 27, 2018) Picture BookThe Tomâs Rivera Award-winning picture book MAYBE SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL is now available in a Spanish hardcover edition! OUR REVIEW: Coming soon.
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FEATHERED SERPENT, DARK HEART: MYTHS OF MEXICO by David Bowles (Cinco Puntos Press, April 2018). The stories in Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky trace the history of the world from its beginnings in the dreams of the dual god, Ometeotl, to the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in Mexico and the fall of the great city Tenochtitlan. In the course of that history, we learn about the Creator Twins–Feathered Serpent and Dark Heart of Sky–and how they built the world on a leviathan’s back; of the shape-shifting nahualli; and the aluxes, elfish beings known to help out the occasional wanderer. And finally, we read Aztec tales about the arrival of the blonde strangers from across the sea, the strangers who seek to upend the rule of Motecuhzoma and destroy the very stories we are reading.
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THE DRAGON SLAYER: Folktales from Latin America by Jaime Hernandez (Toon Books, April 3, 2018). Graphic Novel. How would a kitchen maid fare against a seven-headed dragon? What happens when a woman marries a mouse? And what can a young man learn from a thousand leaf cutter ants? Jaime Hernandez asks these questions and more as he transforms beloved myths into bold, stunning, and utterly contemporary comics. Guided by the classic works of F. Isabel Campoy and Alma Flor Ada, Hernandez’s first book for young readers brings the sights and stories of Latin America to a new generation of graphic-novel fans around the world. OUR REVIEW: Coming soon.

 

 

31328342FUTURE LOST by Elizabeth Briggs. (Albert Whitman & Company, April 3, 2018). Young Adult. It’s been a year since Elena and Adam were first recruited by Aether Corporation and six months since they destroyed the accelerator, finally putting an end to Project Chronos and their involvement with Aether. Now they’re trying to move on with their lives. Elena’s in college and Adam is working on making genicote, his cure for cancer, safe for the public. But genicote has become a dangerous fixation for Adam. He’ll do anything to figure it out, and when he goes missing, Elena realizes that he’s done the unthinkable: he went to Aether for help with the cure. To Elena’s horror, she discovers that Aether has created a new accelerator. Adam betrayed her trust and has traveled into the future to find the fix for his cure, but he didn’t come back when he was supposed to. Desperate to find him, Elena decides to risk future shock and time travels once more. This future is nothing like they’ve seen before. Someone has weaponized Adam’s cure and created a dangerous pandemic, leading to the destruction of civilization. If Elena can’t find Adam and stop this, everyone is at risk. And someone will do anything to keep her from succeeding.

 

 

ALMA AND HOW SHE GOT HER NAME written and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal (Candlewick Press, April 10, 2018). Picture BookWhat’s in a name? For one little girl, her very long name tells the vibrant story of where she came from – and who she may one day be. In her author-illustrator debut, Juana Martinez-Neal opens a treasure box of discovery for children who may be curious about their own origin stories and names. Simultaneous Spanish hardcover edition, ALMA Y CÓMO OBTUVO SU NOMBRE.

OUR REVIEW: https://latinosinkidlit.com/2018/04/09/book-review-alma-and-how-she-got-her-name-alma-y-come-obtuvo-su-nombre-by-juana-martinez-neal/

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ALPHABET BOATS by Samantha R. Vamos, illus by Ryan O’Rourke (Charlesbridge Publishing, April 17, 2018). Picture Book. Discover twenty-six types of vessels, from the more common–canoe and motorboat–to the unusual–umiak and Q-boat. Just like in Alphabet Trucks and Alphabet Trains, colorful art includes the letters of the alphabet hidden (and not-so-hidden) in supporting roles in the illustrations. OUR REVIEW: Coming Soon

 

 

 

SWEET SHAPES by Juana Medina (Viking Books for Young Readers, April 24, 2018). Picture Book. In this delicious forest, the bears are made of rectangular brownies, the goldfinches are triangles of lemon tart, and the butterflies are oval jelly beans. What child could resist learning shapes from such delectable creatures as these? Collage artist Juana Medina has outdone herself with this array of tooth-achingly sweet animal desserts that come in all shapes and sizes. OUR REVIEW: Coming Soon

 

 

 

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LOU LOU AND PEA AND THE BICENTENNIAL BONANZA by Jill Diamond, illus by Lesley Vamos (FSG/MacKids, April 24, 2018). Middle Grade. BFFs Lou Lou Bombay and Peacock Pearl are busy preparing for the Bicentennial Bonanza, their city’s two-hundredth birthday bash! And this year, the party will take place in their beloved neighborhood of El Corazón. With a baking contest, talent show, and a new gazebo planned, the community can’t wait to celebrate the founders (and historical BFFs), Diego Soto and Giles Wonderwood. But when Vice-Mayor Andy Argyle claims the festivities belong to Verde Valley, using a mysterious diary as evidence, Lou Lou and Pea smell trouble. Will the friends be able to uncover the secrets of their city’s founding, and bring the Bonanza back to El Corazón?

 

 

 

36580712DEAD WEIGHT: MURDER AT CAMP BLOOM by Terry Blas, Molly Muldoon, Matthew Seely (Oni Press, April 24, 2018). Comics. Deep in the Oregon wilderness sits Camp Bloom, a weight-loss camp where “overweight” teens can “get in shape.” Jesse would rather be anywhere else, but her parents are forcing her to go. Noah isn’t sure if he wants to be there, but it’s too late to turn back. Tony is heartbroken at the thought of giving up his phone and internet. And Kate… well, she likes the hikes, at least. As far as these four teens are concerned, it’s just another boring summer. Until one night, when Jesse and Noah witness a beloved counselor’s murder. The body’s gone by the next morning, but a blurry photo leads to one clue–the murderer is one of the camp’s staff members. But which one? As Jesse, Noah, Kate, and Tony investigate, they quickly discover that everyone’s got their secrets… and one of them would kill to keep theirs hidden. OUR REVIEW: Coming Soon

 

 

35068505ALLIED: RUINED #3 by Amy Tintera (HarperTeen, May 1, 2018). Young Adult. Emelina Flores and her sister, Olivia, were determined to bring peace to the people of Ruina. But as the war for liberation raged on, what triumph and freedom meant to Em and Olivia slowly changed. As Olivia’s violence and thirst for vengeance became her only ambition, Em was left to pick up the pieces. But it’s not only Em who is upset by Olivia’s increased violence. Other members of the Ruined army are beginning to see the cracks, and soon a small group of them defects from Olivia’s army and joins Em instead. The two sisters are soon pitted against each other in an epic battle for the kingdom and the future, and only one will win.

 

 

LA FRONTERA / THE BORDER: El Viaje Con Papa / My Journey with Papa by Alfredo Alva and Deborah Mills , illus by Claudia Navarro (Barefoot Books, May 1, 2018). Picture Book. Join a young boy and his father on a daring journey from Mexico to Texas to find a new life. They’ll need all the resilience and courage they can muster to safely cross the border/ la frontera and to make a home for themselves in a new land. OUR REVIEW: Coming Soon

 

 

 

36373350JAZZ OWLS: A Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots by Margarita Engle, illus. by Rudy Gutierrez (Antheneum Books for Young Readers, May 8, 2018). Young Adult. Thousands of young Navy sailors are pouring into Los Angeles on their way to the front lines of World War II. They are teenagers, scared, longing to feel alive before they have to face the horrors of battle. Hot jazz music spiced with cool salsa rhythms calls them to dance with the local Mexican American girls, who jitterbug all night before working all day in the canneries. Proud to do their part for the war effort, these Jazz Owl girls are happy to dance with the sailors–until the blazing summer night when racial violence leads to murder. Suddenly the young white sailors are attacking these girls’ brothers and boyfriends. The cool, loose zoot suits they wear are supposedly the reason for the violence–when in reality these boys are viciously beaten and arrested simply because of the color of their skin.

 

 

35707056UNDEAD GIRL GANG by Lily Anderson (Razorbill, May 8, 2018). Young Adult. Meet teenage Wiccan Mila Flores, who truly could not care less what you think about her Doc Martens, her attitude, or her weight because she knows that, no matter what, her BFF Riley is right by her side. So when Riley and Fairmont Academy mean girls June Phelan-Park and Dayton Nesseth die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone’s explanation that her BFF was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life. Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders. But they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer…before the killer strikes again.

 

 

ALL OF THIS IS TRUE by Lygia Day Peñaflor (HarperTeen, May 15, 2018). Young Adult. In this genre-defying page-turner from Lygia Day Penaflor, four teens befriend their favorite YA novelist, only to find their deepest, darkest secrets in the pages of her next book–with devastating consequences. Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to hear the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her. Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck–especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Penny Panzarella was more than the materialist party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was–and she was willing to share all her secrets with Fatima Ro to prove it. Jonah Nicholls had more to hide than any of them. And now that Fatima’s next book is out in the world, he’s the one who is paying the price. Perfect for fans of One of Us Is Lying–and told as a series of interviews, journal entries, and even pages from the book within the book–this gripping story of a fictional scandal will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.

 

 

  feather-weight_400¡LA CELEBRACIÓN! by Susan M. Elya, illustrated by Ana Aranda (Lee & Low Books, May 15, 2018) Picture BookIt’s a sunny summer day. Come join the crowd headed for the parade. Marvel at the people riding motorcycles, bicycles, tricycles, and unicycles. Duck out of the way as firefighters spray water on hot spectators. Clap to the music as bands of musicians playing clarinetes, saxophones, flautas, trumpets, and drums march by. Feast on lemonade, watermelon, tacos, and ice cream. Wave to the corn princess as her float passes by. Then take cover when a quick rain shower comes, followed by a bright rainbow. Back in the town plaza as night falls, marvel at the sparkling fireworks that end the day’s festivities. Pop, pop, pop Bon, bon, bon With engaging text and imaginative, whimsical illustrations, this story is the perfect way to enjoy a summer day–and learn some Spanish, too.

 

BOOKJOY FC hi resBOOKJOY, WORDJOY by Pat Mora, illus by Raul Colón (Lee & Low, May 15, 2018). Picture Book. Whether we are collecting words, reading favorite books in the library, celebrating holidays, writing poems, sharing secrets, or singing a jazzy duet, words and books can take us on wonderful adventures and bring us joy. Poet Pat Mora has brought together a collection of her poems that celebrates engaging with words and books in all these ways and more. Vivid illustrations by Raul Colon bring the poems to life and interpret the magic of the language with captivating images in a style influenced by Mexican muralists. Together the poems and illustrations are sure to inspire creative wordplay in readers of all ages.

Click here for the post about the cover reveal that includes techniques by Raul Colón.

 

 

Image result for anger is a gift mark oshiroANGER IS A GIFT by Mark Oshiro (Tor Teen, May 22, 2018). Young Adult. Six years ago, Moss Jefferies’ father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media’s vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks. Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals their own school. New rules. Random locker searches. Constant intimidation and Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. Despite their youth, the students decide to organize and push back against the administration. When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.

OUR REVIEW: https://latinosinkidlit.com/2018/05/21/book-review-anger-is-a-gift-by-mark-oshiro/

 

 

Image result for the season of rebels and rosesTHE SEASON OF REBELS AND ROSES by Virginia Sánchez-Korrol (Piñata Books, May 31, 2018). Young Adult. At an assembly of liberals in Ponce, Puerto Rico, in 1887, Inocencia Martínez eagerly looks for Sotero Figueroa, a journalist and independence movement activist whose politics and handsome visage she finds extremely exciting. She is so intent on keeping him in her sights that, when he stops to speak to someone, she almost runs right into him! Inocencia, the daughter of a Spanish bureaucrat, was 18 when she first heard Figueroa speak about freedom from colonial repression and an independent Puerto Rico. Hearing the speakers at the assembly, some who advocate for total independence from Spain and others who favor a plan that would give Puerto Rico a voice in the Spanish government, fuels her dreams of becoming a leader in the movement. When Sotero requests permission to visit, Inocencia’s parents are initially horrified that a mulatto, someone of African descent, wants to court their daughter. Ultimately, just before the couple’s seditious activities force them into exile, her parents give approval for their marriage. While living in New York City, Inocencia starts her own women s group to aid the revolutionaries, following in the footsteps of her mentor, Doña Lola Rodríguez Tió. Ranging from Puerto Rico to Cuba and the United States, this engaging novel for teens follows historical figures that were instrumental in the fight for self-determination in Puerto Rico.

 

 

Image result for gloria velasquezFORGIVING MOSES (Roosevelt High School) by Gloria Velásquez (Piñata Books, May 31, 2018). Young Adult. Moses Vargas hates his life. He has been forced to move four times in as many years, and he’s tired of starting at another school, having everyone stare at him and trying to make new friends. Most of all, he doesn’t want to have to deal with questions about his father an inmate in the California Department of Corrections. When Moses discovers that someone has been sending out text messages with a photo of him and his father in a prison uniform, he ends up in a fight and then suspended for three days. School counselor Ray Gutiérrez agrees to reach out to Moses. He realizes that several boys at Roosevelt High School are dealing with absentee fathers, putting them at risk for failure or dropping out. With permission from the principal, Mr. Gutiérrez starts an after-school support program called Círculos. Moses grudgingly attends the sessions that draw on indigenous and cultural roots to empower the boys. Realizing he is not the only one with a problematic home life and the new friendship of a pretty classmate whose father is also in prison helps Moses to begin talking about his anger and embarrassment. But will he really be able to overcome his resentment towards his father? The tenth installment in Velásquez s acclaimed Roosevelt High School Series that focuses on social issues relevant to teens, Forgiving Moses addresses the painful issue of children, particularly brown and black youth, whose fathers are not present in their lives.

 

 

BRUJA BORN (Brooklyn Brujas #2) by Zoraida Córdova (Sourcebooks Fire, June 1, 2018). Young Adult. Lula must let go of the ghosts of her past to face the actual living dead of her present. Lula Mortiz may be a bruja with healing powers, but after her family’s battle in Los Lagos, she feels broken in a way she can’t seem to fix. Then tragedy strikes when a bus crash leaves her friends and her boyfriend, Maks, dead. Desperate to reclaim normalcy, Lula invokes a dark spell to bring Maks back. It isn’t until she hears that all of the bodies from the crash have gone missing that she realizes something is wrong. Lula has unwittlingly raised an army of casi muertos—creatures between the living and dead—and they’re hungry for freedom…which they can only achieve if Lula dies.

 

 

THE WIND CALLED MY NAME by Mary Louise Sanchez (Tu Books, June 3, 2018). Middle Grade. Some days, ten-year-old Margarita Sandoval feels as if the wind might blow her away. The country has been gripped by the Great Depression, so times are hard everywhere. Then she has to leave her familia and compadres in New Mexico–especially her beloved Abuelita–to move to Fort Steele, Wyoming, where her father has taken a job on the railroad. When Margarita meets Evangeline, she’s excited to have a friend her own age . . . but it seems like Evangeline, and everyone else in town, doesn’t understand or appreciate the Sandovals’ Hispanic heritage, or Margarita’s father’s efforts to organize the rail workers in a union. How can Margarita keep her friend, find a place in Fort Steele, and yet remain true to herself?

 

 

31179006SWEET BLACK WAVES by Kristina Pérez (Imprint, June 5, 2018). Young Adult. Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them. As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what’s right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she’s ever loved. Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen.

 

 

 

FLOR AND MIRANDA STEAL THE SHOW by Jennifer Torres (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, June 12, 2018). Middle Grade. Miranda is the lead singer in her family’s musical band, Miranda y Los Reyes. Her family has worked hard performing at festivals and quinceaneras. Now, they have a shot at the main stage. How will Miranda make it a performance to remember? Flor’s family runs the petting zoo at Mr. Barsetti’s carnival. When she accidentally overhears Mr. Barsetti and Miranda’s dad talk about cutting the zoo to accommodate Miranda y Los Reyes’s main stage salary, she knows she has to take action. Will she have the heart for sabotage once she and Miranda actually start to become friends?

 

 

Image result for there's no base like home jessica mendozaTHERE’S NO BASE LIKE HOME by Jessica Mendoza, Alana Mendoza Dusan, illustrated by Ruth McNally Barshaw (Tu Books, June 19, 2018). Middle Grade. This is going to be eleven-year-old Sophia Maria Garcia’s best year ever: she’s going out for the same softball team on which her high-school softball star sister played at her age, and she’s starting middle school. New school, new Sophia. But all does not go according to plan. Sophia does not make the Waves softball team, and making friends at her new school does not go well. Maybe Sophia isn’t the pitcher she thought she might be. And her best friend is drifting away, getting interested in boys and losing interest in Sophia. As the middle school blues set in, Sophia must reach deep down and find a little UMPH–the difference between being good and being great–to figure out her own place, on the field and off.

 

 

Image resultTHE FALL OF INNOCENCE by Jenny Torres Sanchez (Philomel, June 2018). Young Adult. An un-coming-of-age story that charts the devolution of 16-year-old Emilia DeJesus when she learns that the police arrested the wrong man for attacking her seven years prior, that the real perpetrator is still out there, and that beauty can be found in all lost things.

 

 

 

 

35705700THE HIDDEN CITY by David Bowles (Garza Twins #3) (IFWG Publishing, July 2018). Middle Grade. Distressed by new threats, the Garza family take a summer trip to the mountains of La Chinantla in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. While Johnny and Carol grapple with a pair of budding romances, the twins’ parents are take captive by a group of forest elementals and renegade sisimites, talking apes whose ancestors survived the destruction at the end of the Second Age. Now the shapeshifting heroes will have to find a legendary city hidden deep in the cloud forests to forge new alliances, face foes both new and old, and save the ones they love.

 

 

LENA’S SHOES ARE NERVOUS by Keith Calabrese, illustrated by Juana Medina. (Atheneum Books, July 3, 2018). Picture Book.  In the tradition of School’s First Day of School, debut author Keith Calabrese and Pura Belpre Award winner Juana Medina share a sweet, universal story about a clever little girl whose shoes are nervous about the first day of school.Today is a big day Today, Lena starts kindergarten. She is very excited. But there’s just one problem…Lena’s shoes are nervous.Lena doesn’t want to miss out on her first day of school, but she can’t go without her favorite shoes How can she convince them to be brave?

 

 

MY YEAR IN THE MIDDLE by Lila Quintero Weaver (Candlewick Press, July 10, 2018). Middle Grade. Sixth-grader Lu Olivera just wants to keep her head down and get along with everyone in her class. Trouble is, Lu’s old friends have been changing lately — acting boy crazy and making snide remarks about Lu’s newfound talent for running track. Lu’s secret hope for a new friend is fellow runner Belinda Gresham, but in 1970 Red Grove, Alabama, blacks and whites don’t mix. As segregationist ex-governor George Wallace ramps up his campaign against the current governor, Albert Brewer, growing tensions in the state — and in the classroom — mean that Lu can’t stay neutral about the racial divide at school. Will she find the gumption to stand up for what’s right and to choose friends who do the same?

 

 

25768257ALL THE STARS DENIED by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Tu Books, July 15, 2018). Young Adult. In the heart of the Great Depression, Rancho Las Moras, like everywhere else in Texas, is gripped by the drought of the Dust Bowl, and resentment is building among white farmers against Mexican Americans. All around town, signs go up proclaiming “No Dogs or Mexicans” and “No Mexicans Allowed.” When Estrella organizes a protest against the treatment of tejanos in their town of Monteseco, Texas, her whole family becomes a target of “repatriation” efforts to send Mexicans “back to Mexico”–whether they were ever Mexican citizens or not. Dumped across the border and separated from half her family, Estrella must figure out a way to survive and care for her mother and baby brother. How can she reunite with her father and grandparents and convince her country of birth that she deserves to return home? There are no easy answers in the first YA book to tackle this hidden history. OUR REVIEW: Coming Soon

 

 

A GIFT FROM ABUELA by Cecilia Ruiz (Candlewick, August 7, 2018). Picture Book. The first time Abuela holds Nina, her heart overflows with tenderness. And as Nina grows up, she and Abuela spend plenty of time together. Abuela can’t help thinking how much she’d like to give Nina a very special treat, so she saves a little bit of her money every week — a few pesos here, a few pesos there. When the world turns upside down, Abuela’s dream of a surprise for Nina seems impossible. Luckily, time spent together — and the love Abuela and Nina have for each other — could turn out to be the very best gift of all. With a soft and subtle hand, author-illustrator Cecilia Ruiz draws from her own history to share a deeply personal tale about remembering what’s most important when life starts to get in the way.

 

 

 

MARCUS VEGA DOESN’T SPEAK SPANISH by Pablo Cartaya (Viking Books, August 21, 2018). Middle Grade. Marcus Vega is six feet tall, 180 pounds, and the owner of a premature mustache. When you look like this and you’re only in the eighth grade, you’re both a threat and a target. Marcus knows what classmates and teachers see when they look at him: a monster. But appearances are deceiving. At home, Marcus is a devoted brother. And he finds ways to earn cash to contribute to his family’s rainy day fund. His mom works long hours and his dad walked out ten years ago—someone has to pick up the slack. After a fight at school leaves him facing suspension, Marcus and his family decide to hit the reset button and regroup for a week in Puerto Rico. Marcus is more interested in finding his father, though, who is somewhere on the island. Through a series of misadventures that take Marcus all over Puerto Rico in search of the elusive Mr. Vega, Marcus meets a colorful cast of characters who show him the many faces of fatherhood. And he even learns a bit of Spanish along the way.

 

 

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline WoodsonTHE DAY YOU BEGIN by Jacqueline Woodson, illus by Rafael López (Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin, August 28, 2018). Picture BookThere are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look, talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it. Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

 

 

35398632LUCKY LUNA by Diana López (Scholastic, August 28, 2018). Middle GradeIn LUCKY LUNA, Diana López returns to her contemporary, realistic CONFETTI GIRL roots, and introduces us to a funny and mischievous girl named Luna Ramos whose primas are always getting her in trouble. Or is it the other way around? Laughs and hijinks abound in this young middle grade novel about a girl and her many cousins in small-town Texas.

 

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Hey, WallHEY, WALL by Susan Verde, illustrated by John Parra (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, September 4, 2018). Picture Book. A boy takes on a community art project in order to make his neighborhood more beautiful in this empowering and inspiring picture book by Susan Verde, stunningly illustrated by award-winning artist John Parra.

One creative boy. One bare, abandoned wall. One BIG idea. There is a wall in Ángel’s neighborhood. Around it, the community bustles with life: music, dancing, laughing. Not the wall. It is bleak. One boy decides to change that. But he can’t do it alone.

 

TIGHT by Torrey Maldonado (Nancy Paulsen Books, September 4, 2018). Middle Grade.) Bryan’s mom has always encouraged his quiet, thoughtful nature, but his dad is different. He thinks it’s time for the sixth-grader to toughen up. With a quick temper and recently out of jail on probation, he tells Bryan it’s better for a man to be feared than to be liked. Bryan’s not really sure about this, and it doesn’t seem to even matter when he befriends new kid Mike. At first everything is calm and chill, the way Bryan likes it, as the boys bond over their love of reading comics and drawing superheroes. But things get uncomfortable when it turns out Mike has some risky ideas about how to have fun. Then Bryan’s dad gets in a fight and ends up back in jail, and something in Bryan snaps. He starts cutting school, jumping subway turnstiles and going train surfing, with Mike in the lead. But when Mike takes things a step too far and shows his true colors, Bryan has a difficult decision to make.

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Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg MedinaMERCI SUAREZ CHANGES GEARS by Meg Medina (Candlewick, September 11, 2018). Middle Grade. Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. At home, Merc’s grandfaterh and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately–forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing at all. No one in her family will tell Merci anything, so she’s left to her own worries. In a coming-of-age tale full of humor and wisdom, award-winning author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change that defines middle school–and the steadfast connection that family defines family.

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34966353STORM RUNNER by Jennifer Cervantes (Rick Riordan Presents, September 18, 2018). Middle Grade. A 13-year-old boy must save the world by unraveling an ancient Mayan prophecy. Zane must not only grapple with a family history that connects him to the Mayan gods, but with newly acquired knowledge that his ancestry may have something to do with a leg deformity that requires he use a cane — not the greatest reality for a middle schooler.

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AMERICAN ROAD TRIP by Patrick Flores-Scott (Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt & Co., September 18, 2018). Young Adult. A YA novel about Teodoro “T” Avila, a 17-year old whose family is affected by the economy and the Iraq War, but when he falls for college-bound Wendy, he fights to overcome family chaos and turn his life around.

 

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ANALEE, IN REAL LIFE by Janelle Milanes (Simon Pulse, Septmber 18, 2018). Young Adult. Ever since her mom died three years ago, Analee Echevarria has had trouble saying out loud the weird thoughts that sit in her head. With a best friend who hates her and a dad who’s marrying a yogi she can’t stand, Analee spends most of her time avoiding reality and role-playing as Kiri, the night elf hunter at the center of her favorite online game.Through Kiri, Analee is able to express everything real-life Analee cannot: her bravery, her strength, her inner warrior. The one thing both Kiri and Analee can’t do, though, is work up the nerve to confess her romantic feelings for Kiri’s partner-in-crime, Xolkar–a.k.a. a teen boy named Harris whom Analee has never actually met in person.So when high school heartthrob Seb Matias asks Analee to pose as his girlfriend in an attempt to make his ex jealous, Analee agrees. Sure, Seb seems kind of obnoxious, but Analee could use some practice connecting with people in real life. In fact, it’d maybe even help her with Harris.But the more Seb tries to coax Analee out of her comfort zone, the more she starts to wonder if her anxious, invisible self is even ready for the real world. Can Analee figure it all out without losing herself in the process?

 

 

WHAT IF IT’S US by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli (HarperTeen, October 2, 2018). Young AdultWhat If It’s Us opens as Arthur and Ben meet at the post office as Ben is shipping his ex-boyfriend’s things back to him. They subsequently endure the frustration of knowing there was a missed connection, before the universe pushes them back together again in a series of failed “first” dates.

 

 

 

BLANCA & ROJA by 2017 Stonewall Honor recipient Anna-Marie McLemore (Feiwel and Friends, October 9, 2018). Young Adult. A magical realist Snow-White & Rose-Red meets Swan Lake, in which two sisters become rivals in a game that will turn the losing girl into a swan.
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BRIEF CHRONICLE OF ANOTHER STUPID HEARTBREAK by Adi Alsaid (Harlequin Teen, summer 2018). Young Adult. The novel follows a teen relationship columnist as she struggles with writers’ block in the wake of a devastating breakup, and her decision to chronicle the planned breakup of another couple in the summer after they graduate from high school.

 

 

 

20171227a_CarolynDeeFlores_TheAmazingWatercolorFish_FrontCover_50PercentTHE AMAZING WATERCOLOR FISH by Carolyn Dee Flores (Arte Público Press/Piñata, summer 2018). A rhyming picture book about two lonely fish, separated by a wall of books, who communicate by creating incredible worlds in watercolor. The book will be bilingual and rhyme in both Spanish and English, with Spanish translation (literary interpretation) by former Texas Poet Laureate Carmen Tafolla.

 

 

Courtney Author Photos2013_117.jpgSEVEN DEADLY SHADOWS by Courtney Alameda and Valynne E. Maetani (HarperTeen, summer 2018). Set in modern-day Japan, 17-year-old Kira, who is the victim of bullying at her school, finds solace working in her grandfather’s Shinto shrine. After realizing that she can see and commune with demons, Kira – with her younger sister in tow – partners with seven “death gods,” or “Shinigami” in Japanese, to save Kyoto from destruction.

 

 

SARAI AND THE MEANING OF AWESOME by Sarai Gonzalez and Monica Brown (Scholastic, September 2018). Middle Grade. The first book in the fictional middle grade series based on Sarai’s life, Sarai and the Meaning of Awesome, features Sarai using her creativity and entrepreneurial skills to help her community and family. The first and second books in the series will be published in September, co-authored by award-winning author Monica Brown and Sarai Gonzalez, the fierce and confident 12-year-old star of the hugely successful music video “Soy Yo” by Bomba Estéreo, who became a viral star and the face behind #SoyYo, the movemebt celebrating independent girls around the world.

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33110891CARMELA FULL OF WISHES by Matt de la Peña, illus. by Christian Robinson (Penguin Young Readers, October 9, 2018). Picture Book. When Carmela wakes up on her birthday, her wish has already come true–she’s finally old enough to join her big brother as he does the family errands. Together, they walk through their neighborhood, past the crowded bus stop, the fenced-off repair shop, and the panaderia, until they arrive at the laundromat, where Carmela finds a lone dandelion growing in the pavement. But before she can blow its white fluff away, her brother tells her she has to make a wish. If only she can think of just the right wish to make.

 

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w4090_wevegotthewh_4cc  Whole World BilingualWE’VE GOT THE WHOLE WORLD IN OUR HANDS by Rafael López (Scholastic, October 2018Picture book. Award-winning illustrator Rafael López brings new life with his adaptation of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” saluting the lives of all young people. The rhythmic verse and repetitive emphasis on “we” and “our” encourages inclusive communities and the celebration of unity and diverse friendships all around the world. Simultaneous Spanish hardcover edition, TENEMOS EL MUNDO ETERNO EN LAS MANOS.

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37483184ARE YOU READY TO HATCH AN UNUSUAL CHICKEN? (Unusual Chickens #2) by Kelly Jones, illus. by Katie Kath (Knopf Books for Young Readers, November 2018). Sophie’s flock of magic chickens grows in this funny follow-up to Kelly Jones’s exceptional debut: Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer. Twelve-year-old Sophie Brown is finally settling into her new home and her new role as keeper of some highly unusual chickens–chickens with secret superpowers! But the arrival of two new magical chickens and some unusual eggs to be incubated and hatched, plus an impending inspection from the Unusual Poultry Committee, has Sophie feeling pretty stressed out. Her older cousin Lupe is coming to stay with Sophie’s family for a while — but will Lupe think chickens are cool, too? Not to mention Sophie’s first day at her new school is coming right up! In this wildly funny and quirky novel told in letters and lists and quizzes, Sophie learns that sometime even an exceptional poultry farmer can use some help.

 

 

TURNING PAGES: MY LIFE STORY by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (Philomel, fall 2018). A picture book autobiography, illustrated by Lulu Delacre, in which Justice Sotomayor follows the path of her life as it relates to the books she read along the way. Also, THE BELOVED WORLD OF SONIA SOTOMAYOR (Delacorte, fall 2018), a middle grade adaptation of her bestselling memoir, My Beloved World.

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37912525SOMEONE LIKE ME: How One Undocumented Girl Fought for Her American Dream by Julissa Arce. (Little, Brown, fall 2018). Young Adult.  An adaptation of the 2016 adult memoir MY (UNDERGROUND) AMERICAN DREAM. This YA adaptation chronicles Arce’s childhood in Mexico separated from her parents and her struggle to belong in America while growing up as an undocumented student in Texas.
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GALÁPAGOS GIRL by Marsha Diane Arnold, illus by Pura Belpré Honor recipient Angela Dominguez. (Lee & Low, fall 2018). Picture Book. About a girl who lives on one of the Galápagos islands, and the various species of the island that provide her with friendship and inspiration.
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PATH TO THE STARS: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist by Sylvia Acevedo. A middle grade memoir is a personal account of how Acevedo overcame childhood poverty through her involvement with the Girl Scouts and Head Start, to become one of the first Latinas to receive a post-graduate degree in engineering from Stanford University. The book will be published simultaneously in English and Spanish by Clarion Books/HMH in fall 2018.

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THE VAST WONDER OF THE WORLD by Mélina Mangal, illus by Luisa Uribe. (Lerner/Millbrook Press, fall 2018). Picture Book. About the life and accomplishments of Ernest Everett Just, an African-American research biologist.
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SEÑORITA MARIPOSA by Latin Grammy Award-winning children’s musician Mister G (Ben Gundersheimer), illus by Mexican artist Marcos Almada Rivero (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2018). A picture book celebrating butterfly migration as witnessed by American and Mexican children.
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Matt MendezWHEN WE WERE FEARLESS by Matt Mendez (Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, fall 2018). Young Adult. The novel tells the story of two high school friends growing up in a barrio community in El Paso, Texas.
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31332356THE RESOLUTIONS by Mia Garcia (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books, fall 2018). Young Adult. The book follows four friends who assign each other New Year’s resolutions to try to change the course of their disastrous lives.
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ZOMBIES DON’T EAT VEGGIES by Jorge Lacera and Megan Lacera (Lee & Low, fall 2018). The story follows Mo Romero, a young zombie who convinces his zombie parents to try (and love!) vegetables.

 

 

 

38533001THREAD OF LOVE by Kabir & Surishtha Sehgal, illus by Zara Gonzalez Hoang (Beach Lane Books/S&S, fall 2018). The picture book is a sibling-love and Indian-holiday story told to the tune of the classic song “Frére Jacques.”

 

 

 

 

Image result for margarita engle haku finds a homeHAKU FINDS A HOME by Margarita Engle with Amish Karanjit and Nicole Karanjit, illusustrated by Ruth Jeyaveeran (Lerner, fall 2018). Picture Book.

 

 

 

 ANA MARIA REYES DOES NOT LIVE IN A CASTLE by Hilda Burgos (Tu Books, fall 2018). Middle Grade. About 11-year-old Anamay, who is upset to discover that she will be getting a new sibling until she travels to her parents’ native Dominican Republic and learns that family and community are more important than material possessions.

Book Review: Evangelina Takes Flight

 

Review by Cris Rhodes

DESCRIPTION FROM THE BOOK JACKET: It’s the summer of 1911 in northern Mexico, and thirteen-year-old Evangelina and her family have learned that the rumors of soldiers in the region are true. Her father decides they must leave their home to avoid the violence of the revolution. The trip north to a small town on the U.S. side of the border is filled with fear and anxiety for the family as they worry about loved ones left behind and the uncertain future ahead.

Life in Texas is confusing, though the signs in shop windows that say “No Mexicans” and some people’s reactions to them are all-too clear. At school, she encounters the same puzzling resentment. The teacher wants to give the Mexican children lessons on basic hygiene! And one girl in particular delights in taunting the foreign-born students. Why can’t people understand that—even though she’s only starting to learn English—she’s just like them?

With the help and encouragement of the town’s doctor and the attentions of a handsome boy, Evangelina begins to imagine a new future for herself. But will the locals who resent her and the other new immigrants allow her to reach for and follow her dreams?

MY TWO CENTS: Diana J. Noble’s Evangelina Takes Flight is timely to a startling degree. As a work of historical fiction, Noble’s portrayal of upheaval in Mexico caused by the Mexican Revolution and Pancho Villa’s raids on farming villages remains relevant to this day. In confronting the racism and xenophobia rampant at the border, where shops display signs declaring “’No Dogs! No Negroes! No Mexicans! No Perros! No Negros! No Mexicanos!’,” Evangelina’s story parallels contemporary struggles for racial equality (92). As racial tensions build both in the text and in real life, Evangelina’s stand to keep her school desegregated feels remarkably current, and in its demonstration of child activism, Evangelina Takes Flight holds up a powerful example.

Though Noble doesn’t spend much time explaining the political situation of Mexico during the early twentieth century, the book doesn’t suffer from this lack of context. Indeed, told from the first-person point of view of Evangelina, the text should not offer details outside of her awareness. The book begins mere days after Porfirio Díaz was ousted as president of Mexico, an event that certainly would not have reached the secluded rancho where Evangelina lives, let alone Evangelina herself. Yet, as we journey along with the tenacious and imaginative Evangelina from her fictional Mexican town of Mariposa to the United States to escape the violence wrought by Villa, Noble invites the reader to watch Evangelina grow and mature. She might not be able to foment resistance in her native Mexico, but she certainly can in the United States, and eventually does when called upon to stand up for her right to an education.

Though Evangelina is still a child, at least by modern conceptions of childhood (she turns fourteen during the course of the book), she is entrusted with great responsibility, much of it in the field of medicine—leading her to dream of one day becoming a nurse or even a doctor. While this dream defies the limitations put upon her by her race and her gender, Evangelina does cling to some, perhaps stereotypical, tenets of Mexican femininity. She’s excited for her upcoming quinceañera, and she longs for the attention of boys—one boy, in particular: Selim. Evangelina’s blossoming relationship with Selim is doubly interesting because he is Lebanese—a fact that would likely cause some waves among her traditional Mexican family. Though Noble keeps their relationship chaste, the potential of an interracial relationship adds intrigue, and I wish there was more to it. Understandably, however, Evangelina and Selim’s feelings for each other are overshadowed by an upcoming town hall meeting, which will decide if foreign-born students will be allowed to attend school with their white peers.

Though Evangelina Takes Flight confronts historical (and contemporary) racism with aplomb, it still contains some troubling tropes about marginalized peoples, namely the White Savior figure. Evangelina has multiple encounters with the local doctor, Russell Taylor, whose compassion transcends race. Unlike his neighbors, Dr. Taylor is more than willing to help the Mexicans and goes out of his way to treat Evangelina’s Aunt Cristina when she gives birth to twin sons, one of whom is stillborn. Because of his position as the town doctor, Dr. Taylor holds sway with those who seek to segregate the school. He attempts to act as a mediator between the Mexican families and white townspeople, who are led by the mean-spirited Frank Silver. But Dr. Taylor’s intercession strays into White Savior territory when he is the one who discovers a secret that discredits Silver. After revealing Silver’s secret, Dr. Taylor parades Evangelina in front of the crowd at the town hall meeting, ostensibly to demonstrate her intelligence and humanity; but in a moment such as this, she actually becomes less of a humanized figure and more of a token. Additionally, it is not her own words that sway the townspeople to keep the school unified, but her ability to quote from the Bible, in English, that persuades them. While it is possible to read Evangelina as a key activist figure in spite of Dr. Taylor’s intervention, his role in this scene is a little disappointing, coming as it does in a text that otherwise offers so much in regards to racial equality.

Regardless, this book resonated with me on multiple levels. Evangelina’s struggle for independence, respect, and acquiring her own voice is something that many young Latinas, myself included, face today. Noble’s poetic yet accessible prose allows the reader to slip into Evangelina’s world and understand that problems can be overcome with perseverance and bravery. Though the book is at times slow moving and the plot is occasionally sparse, I would argue that such components allow the industrious reader to dive deep and think critically about Evangelina’s circumstances. However, these characteristics may also make this book difficult for reluctant readers. As a result, though this book is marketed as a middle grade novel, it may be more appropriate for experienced or older readers. Even if some parts were troublesome, I still found Evangelina an intriguing and captivating read,. Ultimately, for those looking for a book that faces contemporary issues through the lens of historical fiction, Evangelina Takes Flight certainly fits the bill.

TEACHING TIPS: Evangelina Takes Flight would pair well with other books about school de/segregation or child activists, such as Duncan Tonatiuh’s Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Méndez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation   or Innosanto Nagara’s A is for Activist. In addition, because of its historical setting, Evangelina would also be useful in teaching about the Mexican Revolution, the history of Texas, or historical race relations in the United States.

Evangelina Takes Flight offers lessons on metaphor and imagery, especially in its use of the butterfly as a symbol of resilience. When Evangelina’s grandfather tells her the story of the migratory butterflies for which her hometown of Mariposa is named, she starts to see the butterfly as an image of strength. Students could be guided to find passages where butterflies are mentioned to see how Noble constructs this extended metaphor. Students may also be encouraged to deconstruct the representations of butterflies on the cover of the book in a discussion about visual rhetoric.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Diana J. Noble was born in Laredo, Texas, and grew up immersed in both Mexican and American cultures. Her young adult novel, Evangelina Takes Flight, is based loosely on her paternal grandmother’s life, but has stories of other relatives and memories from her own childhood woven into every page. It’s received high praise from Kirkus Reviews, Forward Reviews (5 stars), Booklist Online and was recently named a Junior Library Guild selection. [Condensed bio is from the author’s website.]

 

 

ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Cris Rhodes is a doctoral student at Texas A&M University – Commerce. She received a M.A. in English with an emphasis in borderlands literature and culture from Texas A&M – Corpus Christi, and a B.A. in English with a minor in children’s literature from Longwood University in her home state of Virginia. Cris recently completed a Master’s thesis project on the construction of identity in Chicana young adult literature.