Book Review: Rotten! Vultures, Beetles, Slime, and Nature’s Other Decomposers by Anita Sanchez, illus by Gilbert Ford

 

Review by Emily Aguiló-Pérez

DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK: What’s that terrible smell? Plug your nose! Run! Something smells…rotten! But rotten isn’t always bad. If nothing ever rotted, nothing could live. Decomposition seems like the last stop on the food chain, but it’s just the beginning. When dead things rot, they give life to a host of other creatures. So who are these decomposers? Sharks and vultures feast on animal carcasses. Worms, maggots, and dung beetles devour decaying plant and animal matter. Decomposition is happening everywhere: oceans, forests, in your backyard—even between your teeth! It’s nature’s way of creating energy for all living things. So unplug your nose! Open this book to uncover the dirty rotten truth about one of nature’s most fascinating processes.

MY TWO CENTS: Who knew learning about dung beetles, worms, vultures, mummies, and numerous other “rotten” things could be so much fun?! In this informative book, Anita Sanchez provides so many facts about decomposition. I learned, for instance, about the different kinds of dung beetles and how they create their homes out of dung. It’s fascinating! I also learned about the decomposition process of a tree log and why it doesn’t smell terrible (even though one would think anything rotten would smell badly). The book also touches on items that do not decompose and the dangers they pose for nature. Speaking about plastic, it explains that “landfills are overflowing with plastic that’s sitting there, not decomposing. But even worse is the plastic that doesn’t make it into a landfill” (65).

Eighty-three pages of information can seem like a lot for a young reader, but Sanchez’s writing paired with the engaging and colorful illustrations by Gilbert Ford truly provide a fun learning experience. The book is divided into eight chapters, each one focusing on a different decomposer. Each chapter has a variety of sections that provide focused information on the specific topic, using stories, humorous snapshots, and creative illustrations. Some of my favorite recurring sections were “Decomposer Selfie,” which provides short bits of information about an animal or organism, and “Rot It Yourself,” which offers brief experiment directions. There is much to enjoy in this book! It would make a great addition to any library.

TEACHING TIPS: The book naturally lends itself to a science classroom (especially upper elementary and middle grades). There are experiments students can perform and which do not require too many materials. In addition, students can use the bibliography that is included at the end of the book to perform further research on a specific topic, animal, organism, etc. presented in the book.

In addition, this book is a wonderful model for various approaches to informational or non-fiction writing. Because it uses narratives, short blurbs, longer texts, descriptions, comparisons, process analysis, and images, among others, students can learn about and develop their own skills for writing non-fiction.

 

Anita Sanchez--author photoABOUT THE AUTHOR: (from the dust jacket) Anita Sanchez loves to explore nature, even the stinky, slimy parts of it. She dug into the world of rot by creating a compost pile, viewing vultures, watching worms, and even swimming with (very small) sharks. Check out her blog about unloved plants and animals at anitasanchez.com.

 

 

 

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR: (from the dust jacket) Gilbert Ford feels spoiled rotten for getting to spend all his time drawing. He is the author and illustrator of The Marvelous Thing That Came from a Spring and How the Cookie Crumbled. He has also illustrated the award-winning Mr. Ferris and His Wheel, Soldier Song, Itch!, and many middle grade novels. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Learn more about his work at gilbertford.com.

 

 

 

 

headshotABOUT THE REVIEWER: Emily R. Aguiló-Pérez is an Assistant Professor of English (Children’s Literature) at West Chester University of Pennsylvania.  Her teaching and research are in the areas of children’s literature (particularly Latinx literature), girlhood studies, and children’s cultures. Her published work has focused on girlhood as represented in literature and Puerto Rican girls’ identity formation with Barbie dolls. She has presented research on Latinx children’s books at various conferences and has served on children’s book award committees such as the 2017 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award and the 2018 Pura Belpré Award. Currently, she is part of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book’s “A Baker’s Dozen” committee.

Book Review: The Fresh New Face of Griselda by Jennifer Torres

 

Review by Clarissa Hadge

DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK: Griselda “Geez” Zaragoza has a love for beautiful things, like her collection of vintage teacups and the flower garden she and her dad planted in the front yard. But when his business fails, Griselda loses not just her home, but also her confidence and her trust in her unflappable parents.

Tagging along with big sister Maribel, who postponed college for a job selling Alma Cosmetics, Geez dreams up a way to reclaim the life she thinks she lost. If she can sell enough tubes of glistening, glittery Alma lip gloss, she’ll win a cash prize that could help jump start her dad’s business.

With ups and downs along the way, Geez will discover that beauty isn’t just lost or found, but made and re-made.

MY TWO CENTS: Griselda “Geez” Zaragoza and her family have fallen on hard times. Her dad has lost his landscaping business, forcing the family to move from their home to Griselda’s Nana’s house. Her mom, a former TV reporter from before Griselda was born, picks up hours as an assistant at Griselda’s Tia Carla’s salon. Griselda’s big sister Maribel has postponed going off to college to stay home and help the family by selling cosmetics door-to-door as a saleswoman for Alma Cosmetics. Griselda spends the summer before starting sixth grade following Maribel through her rounds.

After one of these sales calls, Griselda sees an ad in her sister’s cosmetic brochure that reads, “Are you between the ages of 12 and 19? Join Alma Cosmetics as a Junior Associate.” The ad promises Junior Associates who sell 500 tubes of Alma’s new Fairytale Collection lip gloss a chance to win $5,000, and the opportunity to be the “Fresh New Face” of the cosmetics line.

In the moment, Griselda tosses the brochure away, her mind heavy with thoughts about her family’s finances. The only thing that seems to bring her happiness anymore are her collection of First Lady teacups, found at various yard sales through the years, searching long and hard with her Nana. Maribel gives Griselda a lip gloss, for helping with their last sale.

A fashion forward classmate notices Griselda holding the lip gloss at lunch on the first day of school, and realizes that it’s a color that is from a new line. Griselda initially offers to give it away, but then she realizes that she could instead sell it to the classmate. The classmate eagerly buys the new gloss, and other girls notice, asking Griselda if she has other colors. An idea starts formulating in Griselda’s mind – that she could maybe become a Junior Associate with Alma Cosmetics, and potentially win the $5,000 prize. Griselda knows that $5,000 isn’t going to get her house back, or her dad’s job, but she knows that it can help her family in some way. After a starting boost from Maribel, she gains traction in her cosmetic sales. With more and more classmates excited about the new colors and styles, and their eager willingness to pay, Griselda’s popularity grows.

But though she is on her way to winning the cash prize, and maybe becoming the “Fresh New Face” of Alma, Griselda’s rise is not without its obstacles. She might be able to sell lip gloss and nail polish, but at what expense? Her friends? Her relationship with her family? Though her intentions are honorable, Griselda will learn a valuable lesson in what it takes to be at the top.

Jennifer Torres’s middle grade novel is a sweet tale of one girl trying to help her family. I appreciated the way that the novel dealt with class differences, Griselda’s introspection about her family’s situation, and what she could do to make things easier for all of them. Though the Zaragozas are not without a physical roof over their heads, and have the privilege of never going without food, Torres captures the turmoil a tween might undergo, of wanting to help, but not being quite old enough to make a significant difference. Griselda’s relationship with her Nana was one of my favorite parts of the novel, and with seamless Latinx references throughout the text – Griselda eating pan dulce with her Nana before school in the morning, the breezy inflections of her Nana calling her mija – I was reminded of my own childhood moments with my Granny.

The secondary character of Griselda’s best friend Sophia was fleshed out without being stereotypical. My heart broke as Griselda has less and less time with Sophia and have an inevitable falling out at the mall. The scene is supposed to be celebratory, as they are there to spend their birthdays together, but it ends in disaster. Griselda’s worry over money comes to a head when she internalizes all of her anger and sadness as she sees Sophia spending money, without having to care about how much everything costs, as Griselda does. The scene is poignant, both girls angry at each other for all the wrong reasons, but not realizing no one is really to blame in the moment.

I especially loved the details about Griselda’s First Lady tea cups, with each chapter starting with a quote from a First Lady. This characteristic of Griselda felt unique. I have to admit I searched online to see if these existed, and while it doesn’t appear as though a matching set exists in our world, I’d like to think that Griselda eventually finds all of the cups to make a full set.

 

jtorresABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Torres is the author of Flor and Miranda Steal the Show, Stef Soto, Taco Queen, and Finding the Music/En Pos de la Música. A graduate of Northwestern University and the University of Westminster, London, her background is in journalism. She has worked for The Record newspaper in Stockton and now lives with her husband and two little girls in Southern California.

 

 

 

CH headshotABOUT THE REVIEWER: Clarissa Hadge is a Chicanx transplant from sunny Southern California who now lives in the less-than-sunny Northeast. A graduate of Simmons University, her background is in writing for children. An advocate for more inclusive literature for children and young adults, she is the bookstore manager and children’s book buyer at an independent bookstore in Boston and the current co-chair of the New England Children’s Booksellers Advisory Council (NECBA).

2020 Titles By/For/About Latinx!!

 

HERE IT IS! The 2020 list of books releasing by/for/about Latinxs. Here are the 100+ titles we know about that are releasing this year. We’re sure more will be more added, 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. The books are listed by the publishing date. Please let us know in the comments if we are missing any!

 

SHADOWSHAPER LEGACY: Shadowshaper Cypher Book #3 by Daniel José Older (Arthur A. Levine Books, January 7, 2020). Young Adult. A house divided: Sierra and the shadowshapers have been split apart. Juan, Anthony, and Izzy are in jail, anxiously waiting to find out what will become of them. Back in Brooklyn, the other shadowshapers have been getting threatening messages from whisper wraiths, catching strangely shaped figures stalking them, and fending off random spirits. A war is brewing among the houses, and the very magic of the shadowshapers is at stake.

The fate of the worlds: Sierra is determined to protect her own in the coming conflict, even if that means keeping secrets from them. But a deal with Death by one of Sierra’s ancestors has far-reaching consequences in the battles of the present, and as old fates tangle with new powers, Sierra will have to harness the Deck of Worlds and confront her family’s past if she has any hope of saving the future and everyone she loves. Only doing so will mean following the magic to places the shadowshapers have never gone before and may never return from. The conclusion to the evocative and captivating Shadowshaper Cypher series.

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WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT by Isabel Ibañez (Page Street Kids, January 7, 2020). Young Adult. Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge, and her rare ability to spin thread from moonlight.

When Atoc demands the real Condesa’s hand in marriage, it’s Ximena’s duty to go in her stead. She relishes the chance, as Illustrian spies have reported that Atoc’s no longer carrying his deadly relic. If Ximena can find it, she can return the true aristócrata to their rightful place.

She hunts for the relic, using her weaving ability to hide messages in tapestries for the resistance. But when a masked vigilante, a warm-hearted princesa, and a thoughtful healer challenge Ximena, her mission becomes more complicated. There could be a way to overthrow the usurper without starting another war, but only if Ximena turns her back on revenge—and her Condesa.

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DARK AND DEEPEST RED by Anna-Marie McLemore (Feiwel & Friends, January 14, 2020). Young Adult. Summer, 1518. A strange sickness sweeps through Strasbourg: women dance in the streets, some until they fall down dead. As rumors of witchcraft spread, suspicion turns toward Lavinia and her family, and Lavinia may have to do the unimaginable to save herself and everyone she loves.

Five centuries later, a pair of red shoes seal to Rosella Oliva’s feet, making her dance uncontrollably. They draw her toward a boy who knows the dancing fever’s history better than anyone: Emil, whose family was blamed for the fever five hundred years ago. But there’s more to what happened in 1518 than even Emil knows, and discovering the truth may decide whether Rosella survives the red shoes.

OUR REVIEW: https://latinosinkidlit.com/2020/01/30/book-review-dark-and-deepest-red-by-anna-marie-mclemore/

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STELLA DIAZ NEVER GIVES UP by Angela Dominguez (Roaring Brook Press, January 14, 2020). Middle Grade. Stella gets a big surprise when her mom plans a trip to visit their family in Mexico! Stella loves marine animals, and she can’t wait to see the ocean for the first time, until she arrives and learns that the sea and its life forms are in danger due to pollution.

Stella wants to save the ocean, but she knows she can’t do it alone. It’s going to take a lot of work and help from old and new friends to make a difference, but Stella Díaz never gives up!

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INFINITY SON by Adam Silvera (HarperTeen, January 14, 2020). Young Adult. Growing up in New York, brothers Emil and Brighton always idolized the Spell Walkers—a vigilante group sworn to rid the world of specters. While the Spell Walkers and other celestials are born with powers, specters take them, violently stealing the essence of endangered magical creatures.

Brighton wishes he had a power so he could join the fray. Emil just wants the fighting to stop. The cycle of violence has taken a toll, making it harder for anyone with a power to live peacefully and openly. In this climate of fear, a gang of specters has been growing bolder by the day.

Then, in a brawl after a protest, Emil manifests a power of his own—one that puts him right at the heart of the conflict and sets him up to be the heroic Spell Walker Brighton always wanted to be.

Brotherhood, love, and loyalty will be put to the test, and no one will escape the fight unscathed.

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MAXIMILIAN: The Curse of the Fallen Angel by Xavier Garza (Cinco Puntos Press, January 17, 2020). Middle Grade. Maximilian’s been nuts about lucha libre his whole life. But he’s not just a nerdy middle schooler―three years ago, he discovered that he’s part of lucha libre royalty. His uncle is the most famous luchador, the Guardian Angel. But now, the masked hero is facing a wild new wrestler who might just topple him from his lucha libre throne. The Fallen Angel may be the most reckless and arrogant wrestler the Guardian Angel has ever had to face, and he’s no longer in his prime. Age affects everyone, even the man behind the celebrated mask. Max, being next in the royal line of luchadores, thinks he might have to take over as the Guardian Angel sooner than he’d ever dreamed.

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DIAMOND CITY by Francesca Flores (Wednesday Books, January 28, 2020). Young Adult. Good things don’t happen to girls who come from nothing, unless they risk everything. Fierce and ambitious, Aina Solís as sharp as her blade and as mysterious as the blood magic she protects. After the murder of her parents, Aina takes a job as an assassin to survive and finds a new family in those like her: the unwanted and forgotten.

Her boss is brutal and cold, with a questionable sense of morality, but he provides a place for people with nowhere else to go. And makes sure they stay there.

DIAMOND CITY: built by magic, ruled by tyrants, and in desperate need of saving. It is a world full of dark forces and hidden agendas, old rivalries and lethal new enemies.

To claim a future for herself in a world that doesn’t want her to survive, Aina will have to win a game of murder and conspiracy—and risk losing everything.

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HOW TO BUILD A HEART by Maria Padian (Algonquin Young Readers, January 28, 2020). Young Adult. All sixteen-year-old Izzy Crawford wants is to feel like she really belongs somewhere. Her father, a marine, died in Iraq six years ago, and Izzy’s moved to a new town nearly every year since, far from the help of her extended family in North Carolina and Puerto Rico. When Izzy’s hardworking mom moves their small family to Virginia, all her dreams start clicking into place. She likes her new school—even if Izzy is careful to keep her scholarship-student status hidden from her well-to-do classmates and her new athletic and popular boyfriend. And best of all: Izzy’s family has been selected by Habitat for Humanity to build and move into a brand-new house. Izzy is this close to the community and permanence she’s been searching for, until all the secret pieces of her life begin to collide.

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SEVEN DEADLY SHADOWS by Courtney Alameda and Valynne E. Maetani (HarperTeen, January 28, 2020). Young Adult. Seventeen-year-old Kira Fujikawa has never had it easy. She’s bullied by the popular girls in school. Her parents ignore her. And she’s also plagued with a secret: She can see yokai, the ghosts and demons that haunt the streets of Kyoto.

But things accelerate from bad to worse when she learns that Shuten-doji, the demon king, will rise at the next blood moon to hunt down an ancient relic and bring the world to a catastrophic end.

Not exactly skilled at fighting anything, much less the dead, Kira enlists the aid of seven powerful death gods to help her slay Shuten-doji. They include Shiro, a kitsune with boy-band looks who is more flirtatious than helpful, and O-bei, a regal demon courtier with reasons of her own for getting involved.

As the confrontation with Shuten-doji draws nearer, the fate of Japan hangs in the balance. Can Kira save humankind? Or will the demon king succeed in bringing eternal darkness upon the world?

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PACHO NACHO by Silvia López, illustrated by Pablo Pino (Capstone, February 1, 2020). Picture Book. Mam and Pap could not agree on a name for their first baby, and everyone in the family had an opinion. That’s how the name Pacho-Nacho-Nico-Tico-Melo-Felo-Kiko-Rico came to be, and Pacho’s parents insisted that everyone use his full name. But when Pacho finds himself in trouble, his younger brother, Juan, must quickly find help, which isn’t easy when you have to keep saying Pacho-Nacho-Nico-Tico-Melo-Felo-Kiko-Rico. Pacho Nacho is based on an old Japanese folktale and includes Spanish words and phrases and multicultural settings.

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LOVE, SUGAR, MAGIC: A Mixture of Mischief by Anna Meriano, illustrated by Mirelle Ortega (Walden Pond Press, February 4, 2020). Middle Grade. It’s spring break in Rose Hill, Texas, but Leo Logroño has a lot of work to do if she’s going to become a full-fledged bruja like the rest of her family.

She still hasn’t discovered the true nature of her magical abilities, and that isn’t the only bit of trouble in her life: Her family’s baking heirlooms have begun to go missing, and a new bakery called Honeybees has opened across town, threatening to run Amor y Azúcar right out of business.

What’s more, everyone around her seems to have secrets, and none of them want to tell Leo what’s going on.

But the biggest secret of all comes when Leo is paid a very surprising visit—by her long-lost Abuelo Logroño. Abuelo promises answers to her most pressing questions and tells Leo he can teach her about her power, about what it takes to survive in a world where threats lurk in the shadows. But can she trust him?

OUR POST: https://latinosinkidlit.com/2020/02/04/celebrating-the-release-of-the-final-book-in-the-love-sugar-magic-series-by-anna-meriano-a-giveaway/

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NO MORE NAPS!: A Story for When You’re Wide-Awake and Definitely NOT Tired by Chris Grabenstein, illustrated by Leo Espinosa (Random House, February 4, 2020). Picture Book. It’s time for a nap but, just like stubborn toddlers everywhere, Annalise Devin McFleece won’t have anything to do with bedtime. Dad tries to encourage sleepiness by pushing her around the park in her stroller. Along the way, they pass a man sitting on a bench, dog walkers walking dogs, a boy on a skateboard, kids playing ball, a girl practicing her juggling, and others. Each of them thinks that taking a nap is a great idea and if Annalise Devin McFleece doesn’t want hers, they’ll happily take it. And one by one, everyone falls asleep, except Annalise Devin McFleece. But when she’s finally ready for her nap, all the naps are taken! Is there anyone who has an extra nap to spare?

With every turn of the page, the busy city scene becomes more and more quiet, except for Annalise Devin McFleece.

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EUNICE AND KATE by Mariana Llanos, illustrated by Elena Napoli (Penny Candy Books, February 11, 2020). Picture Book. The girls live with their moms next door to each other in the heart of the city and have a lot in common–even though they have different dreams for the future: Kate wants to be an astronaut and Eunice wants to be a ballet dancer. But when they draw portraits of each other in art class, things get mixed up. Eunice draws Kate as a ballet dancer and Kate draws Eunice as an astronaut, and they both get more than a little annoyed. Can their friendship survive? With a little help from their moms, the girls come to learn the value of respecting each other’s different dreams.

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RUTH OBJECTS: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Eric Velasquez (Disney-Hyperion, February 11, 2020). Picture Book. When Ruth was a young girl, her mother encouraged her to read, be independent, and stand up for what she thought was right. Ruth graduated first in her class at Cornell University and tied for top of her graduating class at Columbia Law School. But she faced prejudice as both a woman and a Jew, making it difficult to get a job. Ruth eventually found work as a law clerk, and her determination, diligence, and skill led to a distinguished career as a lawyer. In 1993, she became the second woman ever appointed to the United States Supreme Court. As a Supreme Court justice, Ruth has inspired fierce admiration and faced fervent opposition for her judgments in high-profile cases, many of which have involved discrimination. She has been lauded for her sharp wit and boldness, even when her opinions differ from that of the majority.

As a student, teacher, lawyer, and judge, Ruth often experienced unfair treatment. But she persisted, becoming a cultural icon, championing equality in pay and opportunity. Her brilliant mind, compelling arguments, and staunch commitment to truth and justice have convinced many to stand with her, and her fight continues to this day.

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STRONG VOICES: Fifteen American Speeches Worth Knowing by Tonya Bolden, illustrated by Eric Velasquez (HarperCollins, February 11, 2020. A collection of significant speeches, made both by those who held the reins of power and those who didn’t, at significant times in American history. Read the original words—sometimes abridged and sometimes in their entirety—that have shaped our cultural fabric.

 

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THE NEW DAVID ESPINOZA by Fred Aceves (HarperTeen, February 11, 2020). Young Adult. David Espinoza is tired of being messed with. When a video of him getting knocked down by a bully’s slap goes viral at the end of junior year, David vows to use the summer to bulk up— do what it takes to become a man—and wow everyone when school starts again in the fall.

Soon David is spending all his time and money at Iron Life, a nearby gym that’s full of bodybuilders. Frustrated with his slow progress, his life eventually becomes all about his muscle gains. As it says on the Iron Life wall, What does not kill me makes me stronger.

As David falls into the dark side of the bodybuilding world, pursuing his ideal body at all costs, he’ll have to grapple with the fact that it could actually cost him everything.

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THIS TRAIN IS BEING HELD by Ismée Williams (Amulet Books, February 11, 2020). Young Adult. Alex is a baseball player. A great one. His papi is pushing him to go pro, but Alex maybe wants to be a poet. Not that Papi would understand or allow that.

Isa is a dancer. She’d love to go pro, if only her Havana-born mom weren’t dead set against it, just like she’s dead set against her daughter falling for a Latino. And Isa’s privileged private-school life—with her dad losing his job and her older brother struggling with mental illness—is falling apart. Not that she’d ever tell that to Alex.

Fate—and the New York City subway—bring Alex and Isa together. Is it enough to keep them together when they need each other most?

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WITH A STAR IN MY HAND: Rubén Darío, Poetry Hero by Margarita Engle (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, February 18, 2020). Middle Grade. As a little boy, Rubén Darío loved to listen to his great uncle, a man who told tall tales in a booming, larger-than-life voice. Rubén quickly learned the magic of storytelling and discovered the rapture and beauty of verse.

A restless and romantic soul, Rubén traveled across Central and South America seeking adventure and connection. As he discovered new places and new loves, he wrote poems to express his wild storm of feelings. But the traditional forms felt too restrictive. He began to improvise his own poetic forms so he could capture the entire world in his words. At the age of twenty-one, he published his first book Azul, which heralded a vibrant new literary movement called Modernismo that blended poetry and prose into something magical.

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EXTRAORDINARY ORDINARY ELLA by Amber Hendricks, illustrated by Luciana Navarro Powell (Amicus Ink, February 25, 2020). Picture Book. Ella is extraordinary. Extraordinarily ordinary, that is. Not graceful like Carmen or musical like Kenji, Ella is determined to prove herself at the school talent show. But when every attempt to find a talent falls flat and her own ordinary acts of kindness steal the show, Ella discovers just how extraordinary ordinary can be!

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THE EVERYTHING I HAVE LOST by Sylvia Zéleny (Cinco Puntos Press, February 25, 2020). Middle Grade. 12-year-old Julia keeps a diary about her life growing up in Juarez, Mexico. Life in Juarez is strange. People say its the murder capital of the world. Dad’s gone a lot. They can’t play outside because it isn’t safe. Drug cartels rule the streets. Cars and people disappear, leaving behind pet cats. Then Dad disappears and Julia and her brother go live with her aunt in El Paso. What’s happened to her Dad? Julia wonders. Is he going to disappear forever? A coming-of-age story set in today’s Juarez.

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WE UNLEASH THE MERCILESS STORM by Tehlor Kay Mejia (Katherine Tegen Books, February 25, 2020). Young Adult. Being a part of the resistance group La Voz is an act of devotion and desperation. On the other side of Medio’s border wall, the oppressed class fights for freedom and liberty, sacrificing what little they have to become defenders of the cause.

Carmen Santos is one of La Voz’s best soldiers. She spent years undercover, but now, with her identity exposed and the island on the brink of a civil war, Carmen returns to the only real home she’s ever known: La Voz’s headquarters.

There she must reckon with her beloved leader, who is under the influence of an aggressive new recruit, and with the devastating news that her true love might be the target of an assassination plot. Will Carmen break with her community and save the girl who stole her heart—or fully embrace the ruthless rebel she was always meant to be?

OUR REVIEW: https://latinosinkidlit.com/2020/03/26/book-review-we-unleash-the-merciless-storm-by-tehlor-kay-mejia/

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A WAY WITH WILD THINGS by Larissa Theule, illustrated by Sara Palacios (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, March 3, 2020). Picture Book. Meet Poppy–if you can spot her among the wildflowers! Poppy loves nature, and can be found carrying on conversations with ladybugs or singing with cicadas, but good luck spotting her indoors and around people! She’s a master of camouflage, always finding a way to blend into her surroundings. Some might call her a wallflower.

At a party, Poppy stays out of sight. But when a very special bug lands on the cake, Poppy can’t resist popping out to see it. Soon, the rest of the guests notice the beautiful dragonfly, and Poppy, too. Maybe she’s not a wallflower after all, but a wildflower.

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LET’S DANCE by Valerie Bolling, illustrated by Maine Diaz (Boyds Mill Press, March 3, 2020). Picture Book. Tap, twirl, twist, spin! With musical, rhyming text, author Valerie Bolling shines a spotlight on dances from across the globe, while energetic art from Maine Diaz shows off all the moves and the diverse people who do them. From the cha cha of Cuba to the stepping of Ireland, kids will want to leap, dip, and zip along with the dances on the page!

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MAÑANALAND by Pam Muñoz Ryan (Scholastic Press, March 3, 2020). Middle Grade. Maximiliano Córdoba loves stories, especially the legend Buelo tells him about a mythical gatekeeper who can guide brave travelers on a journey into tomorrow.

If Max could see tomorrow, he would know if he’d make Santa Maria’s celebrated fútbol team and whether he’d ever meet his mother, who disappeared when he was a baby. He longs to know more about her, but Papá won’t talk. So when Max uncovers a buried family secret–involving an underground network of guardians who lead people fleeing a neighboring country to safety–he decides to seek answers on his own.

With a treasured compass, a mysterious stone rubbing, and Buelo’s legend as his only guides, he sets out on a perilous quest to discover if he is true of heart and what the future holds.

OUR REVIEW: https://latinosinkidlit.com/2020/02/20/book-review-mananaland-by-pam-munoz-ryan/

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PictureSALTY, BITTER, SWEET by Mayra Cuevas (Blink, March 3, 2020). Young Adult. Aspiring chef Isa’s family life has fallen apart after the death of her Cuban abuela and the divorce of her parents. She moves in with her dad and her new stepmom, Margo, in Lyon, France, where Isa feels like an outsider in her father’s new life. Isa balances her time between avoiding the awkward, “why-did-you-cheat-on-Mom” conversation with figuring out how a perpetually single woman can at least be a perpetually single chef.

The upside of Isa’s world being turned upside-down?

Her father’s house is located only 30 minutes away from the restaurant of world-famous Chef Pascal Grattard, who runs a prestigiously competitive international kitchen apprenticeship. The prize job at Chef Grattard’s renowned restaurant also represents a transformative opportunity for Isa who is desperate to get her life back in order–and desperate to prove she has what it takes to work in an haute kitchen. But Isa’s stress and repressed grief begin to unravel when the attractive, enigmatic Diego shows up unannounced with his albino dog.

How can Isa expect to hold it together when she’s at the bottom of her class at the apprenticeship, her new stepmom is pregnant, she misses her abuela dearly, and things with the mysterious Diego reach a boiling point?

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THE FIRST SEVEN by Laura Pohl (Sourcebooks Fire, March 3, 2020). Young Adult. Clover Martinez and The Last Teenagers on Earth are busy exploring the galaxy after leaving earth behind, even if they can’t help but be a little homesick.

So when their ship receives a distress signal from their former planet, they hope against hope that it means other survivors. But as soon as they arrive, they realize something’s deeply wrong: strange crystal formations have popped up everywhere and there’s some sort of barrier keeping them from leaving.

Seeking the origin of the formations and the reason for the barrier, the group discovers a colony of survivors hidden in the mountains. But the survivors aren’t who they seem.

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KAIA AND THE BEES by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Angela Dominguez (Candlewick, March 10, 2020). Picture Book. Kaia is the brave type. Like hottest-hot-pepper brave. But there is one thing that scares her: BEES! And right now, thousands of bees live on her roof because Kaia’s dad is a beekeeper. Her dad says that the world needs bees and that’s why they are beekeepers. But only he goes on the roof, not Kaia — unless she can find a way to be the brave girl she always says she is.

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GOLDIE VANCE: THE HOTEL WHODUNIT by Lilliam Rivera, illustrated by Elle Power (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, March 17, 2020). Middle Grade. Marigold “Goldie” Vance lives and works at the Crossed Palms Resort Hotel in Florida with a whole slew of characters: her dad, Art, the manager of the joint; Cheryl Lebeaux, the concierge and Goldie’s best friend; and Walter Tooey, the hired hotel detective. Her mom, Sylvia, works nearby at the Mermaid Club.

While life at the Crossed Palms is always busy, the resort is currently overrun with Hollywood-types filming the hottest new creature feature, and tensions are at an all-time high. Even Goldie’s mom is in on the movie act, doing what she does best: playing a mermaid. Just when Goldie thinks the movie biz couldn’t get any more exciting, a diamond-encrusted swimming cap goes missing, and all fingers point to Goldie’s mom as the culprit. Can Goldie uncover the true thief before it’s too late? Based on Hope Larson and Brittney Williams’s critically acclaimed Goldie Vance comic.

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TIGERS, NOT DAUGHTERS by Samantha Mabry (Algonquin Young Readers, March 24, 2020). Young Adult. The Torres sisters dream of escape. Escape from their needy and despotic widowed father, and from their San Antonio neighborhood, full of old San Antonio families and all the traditions and expectations that go along with them. In the summer after her senior year of high school, Ana, the oldest sister, falls to her death from her bedroom window. A year later, her three younger sisters, Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa, are still consumed by grief and haunted by their sister’s memory. Their dream of leaving Southtown now seems out of reach. But then strange things start happening around the house: mysterious laughter, mysterious shadows, mysterious writing on the walls. The sisters begin to wonder if Ana really is haunting them, trying to send them a message—and what exactly she’s trying to say.

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¡VAMOS! LET’S GO EAT by Raúl the Third (Versify, March 24, 2020). Picture Book. In this new Vamos! title, Let’s Go Eat, Little Lobo is excited to take in a show with wrestling star El Toro in his bustling border town. After getting lunch orders from The Bull and his friends to help prepare for the event, Little Lobo takes readers on a tour of food trucks that sell his favorite foods, like quesadillas with red peppers and Mexican-Korean tacos. Peppered with easy-to-remember Latin-American Spanish vocabulary, this glorious celebration of food is sure to leave every reader hungry for lunch!

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EFRÉN DIVIDED by Ernesto Cisneros (HarperCollins, March 31, 2020). Middle Grade. Efrén Nava’s Amá is his Superwoman—or Soperwoman, named after the delicious Mexican sopes his mother often prepares. Both Amá and Apá work hard all day to provide for the family, making sure Efrén and his younger siblings Max and Mía feel safe and loved.

But Efrén worries about his parents; although he’s American-born, his parents are undocumented. His worst nightmare comes true one day when Amá doesn’t return from work and is deported across the border to Tijuana, México.

Now more than ever, Efrén must channel his inner Soperboy to help take care of and try to reunite his family.

AUTHOR Q&A: https://latinosinkidlit.com/2020/03/30/spotlight-on-middle-grade-authors-part-14-ernesto-cisneros/

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GHOST SQUAD by Claribel Ortega (Scholastic Press, April 7, 2020). Middle Grade. Shortly before Halloween, Lucely and her best friend, Syd, cast a spell that accidentally awakens malicious spirits, wreaking havoc throughout St. Augustine. Together, they must join forces with Syd’s witch grandmother, Babette, and her tubby tabby, Chunk, to fight the haunting head-on and reverse the curse to save the town and Lucely’s firefly spirits before it’s too late.

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INTO THE TALL, TALL GRASS by Loriel Ryon (Margaret K. McElderry Books,  April 7, 2020). Middle Grade. Yolanda Rodríguez-O’Connell has a secret. All the members of her family have a magical gift—all, that is, except for Yolanda. Still, it’s something she can never talk about, or the townsfolk will call her family brujas—witches. When her grandmother, Wela, falls into an unexplained sleep, Yolanda is scared. Her father is off fighting in a faraway war, her mother died long ago, and Yolanda has isolated herself from her best friend and twin sister. If she loses her grandmother, who will she have left?

When a strange grass emerges in the desert behind their house, Wela miraculously wakes, begging Yolanda to take her to the lone pecan tree left on their land. Determined not to lose her, Yolanda sets out on this journey with her sister, her ex-best friend, and a boy who has a crush on her. But what is the mysterious box that her grandmother needs to find? And how will going to the pecan tree make everything all right? Along the way, Yolanda discovers long-buried secrets that have made their family gift a family curse. But she also finds the healing power of the magic all around her, which just might promise a new beginning.

AUTHOR Q&A: https://latinosinkidlit.com/2020/03/12/spotlight-on-middle-grade-authors-part-13-loriel-ryon/

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WE DIDN’T ASK FOR THIS by Adi Alsaid (Inkyard Press, April 7, 2020). Young Adult. Central International School’s annual lock-in is legendary. Bonds are made. Contests are fought. Stories are forged that will be passed down from student to student for years to come. This year’s lock-in begins normally enough. Then a group of students led by Marisa Cuevas stage an ecoprotest and chain themselves to the doors, vowing to keep everyone trapped inside until their list of demands is met. Some students rally to their cause, but others are aggrieved to watch their own plans fall apart. Amira has trained all year to compete in the school decathlon on her own terms. Peejay intended to honor his brother by throwing the greatest party CIS has ever seen. Kenji was looking forward to making a splash at his improv showcase. Omar wanted to spend a little time with the boy he’s been crushing on. Celeste, adrift in a new country, was hoping to connect with someone–anyone. And Marisa, once so certain of her goals, must now decide how far she’ll go to attain them. Every year, lock-in night changes lives. This year, it might just change the world.

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THE MAGICAL YET by Angela DiTerlizzi, illustrated by Lorena Alvarez (Disney-Hyperion, April 14, 2020). Picture Book. Each of us, from the day we’re born, is accompanied by a special companion–the Yet. Can’t tie your shoes? Yet! Can’t ride a bike? Yet! Can’t play the bassoon? Don’t worry, Yet is there to help you out.

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WHAT LANE? by Torrey Maldonado (Nancy Paulsen Books, April 14, 2020). Middle Grade. Anything his friends can do, Stephen should be able to do too, right? So when they dare each other to sneak into an abandoned building, he doesn’t think it’s his lane, but he goes. Here’s the thing, though: Can he do everything his friends can? Lately, he’s not so sure. As a mixed kid, he feels like he’s living in two worlds with different rules–and he’s been noticing that strangers treat him differently than his white friends.

So what’ll he do? Hold on tight as Stephen swerves in and out of lanes to find out which are his–and who should be with him.

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A NEW KIND OF WILD by Zara Gonzalez Hoang (Dial Books, April 21, 2020). Picture Book. For Ren, home is his grandmother’s little house and the lush forest that surrounds it. Home is a place of magic and wonder, filled with all the fantastical friends that Ren dreams up. Home is where his imagination can run wild.

For Ava, home is a brick and cement city, where there’s always something to do or see or hear. Home is a place bursting with life, where people bustle in and out like a big parade. Home is where Ava is never lonely because there’s always someone to share in her adventures.

When Ren moves to Ava’s city, he feels lost without his wild. How will he ever feel at home in a place with no green and no magic, where everything is exactly what it seems? Of course, not everything in the city is what meets the eye, and as Ren discovers, nothing makes you feel at home quite like a friend.

OUR REVIEW: https://latinosinkidlit.com/2020/04/02/book-review-a-new-kind-of-wild-by-zara-gonzalez-hoang/

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ON THESE MAGIC SHORES by Yamile Saied Mendez (Tu Books, April 21, 2020). Middle Grade. Twelve-year-old Minerva Soledad Miranda is determined to reach her goals, despite shouldering more responsibility than the other kids at school–like caring for her two sisters while her mom works two jobs. But one night, Minerva’s mom doesn’t come home, and Minerva has to figure out what to do. Was Mam snapped up by ICE? Will the girls be sent to foster homes or holding centers for migrant kids? Minerva and her sisters can’t let anyone know Mam has disappeared. They’ll just pretend everything is normal until she comes back.

Minerva’s plan falls apart the first afternoon, when her baby sister throws a tantrum during Minerva’s audition for Peter Pan. But as the days pass and Minerva grows ever more worried about her mother, something magical seems to be watching out for them: leaving them cupcakes, helping her find money, even steering them to friends and distant family who can help. Eventually, Minerva must make the hardest choice of her life. And when she does, she’ll be prepared to face life’s challenges–with friendship, hope, and a little bit of fairy magic.

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THE WATER BEARS by Kim Baker (Wendy Lamb Books, April 21, 2020). Middle Grade. Newt Gomez has a thing with bears. Last year he survived a bear attack. And this year, he finds an unusual bear statue that just might grant wishes. Newt’s best friend, Ethan, notices a wishbone on the statue and decides to make a wish. When it comes true, Newt thinks it’s a coincidence. Even as more people wish on the bear and their wishes come true, Newt is not convinced.

But Newt has a wish too: while he loves his home on eccentric Murphy Island, he wants to go to middle school on the mainland, where his warm extended family lives. There, he’s not the only Latinx kid, he won’t have to drive the former taco truck–a gift from his parents–and he won’t have to perform in the talent show. Most importantly, on the mainland, he never has bad dreams about the attack. Newt is almost ready to make a secret wish when everything changes.

AUTHOR Q&A: https://latinosinkidlit.com/2020/04/20/spotlight-on-middle-grade-authors-kim-baker/

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A BREATH TOO LATE by Rocky Callen (Henry Holt and Co. BYR, April 28, 2020). Young Adult. Seventeen-year-old Ellie had no hope left. Yet the day after she dies by suicide, she finds herself in the midst of an out-of-body experience. She is a spectator, swaying between past and present, retracing the events that unfolded prior to her death.

But there are gaps in her memory, fractured pieces Ellie is desperate to reassemble. There’s her mother, a songbird who wanted to break free from her oppressive cage. The boy made of brushstrokes and goofy smiles who brought color into a gray world. Her brooding father, with his sad puppy eyes and clenched fists.

Told in epistolary-like style, A Breath Too Late sensitively examines the beautiful and terrible moments that make up a life and the possibilities that live in even the darkest of places.

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INCENDIARY by Zoraida Córdova (Disney-Hyperion, April 28, 2020). Young Adult. Renata was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King’s Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a memory thief, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata was used by the crown to carry out the King’s Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.

Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown. The Whispers may have rescued Renata years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred, or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she drained during her time in the palace.

When Dez, the commander of her unit–and the boy she’s grown to love–is taken captive by the notorious Principe Dorado, Renata must return to Andalucia and complete Dez’s top secret mission herself. Can she keep her cover, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it.

But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the fate of the entire kingdom-and end the war that has cost her everything.

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CLAP WHEN YOU LAND by Elizabeth Acevedo (Harper Teen, May 5, 2020). Young Adult. Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people.

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

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SANTIAGO’S ROAD HOME by Alexandra Diaz (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, May 5, 2020). Middle Grade. The coins in Santiago’s hand are meant for the bus fare back to his abusive abuela’s house. Except he refuses to return; he won’t be missed. His future is uncertain until he meets the kind, maternal María Dolores and her young daughter, Alegría, who help Santiago decide what comes next: He will accompany them to el otro lado, the United States of America. They embark with little, just backpacks with water and a bit of food. To travel together will require trust from all parties, and Santiago is used to going it alone. None of the three travelers realizes that the journey through Mexico to the border is just the beginning of their story.

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SAL AND GABI FIX THE UNIVERSE by Carlos Hernandez (Rick Riordan Presents, May 5, 2020). Middle Grade. The sequel to the critically acclaimed Sal and Gabi Break the Universe, a brilliant sci-fi romp with Cuban influence. Among many other challenges, Sal and Gabi have to try to make everything right with our world when there is a rogue Gabi from another universe running loose.

Sal Vidon doesn’t want to live a Mami-free life. Pulling different versions of his mother from other universes is how he copes with missing his own, who died years ago. But Sal’s father, a calamity physicist, is trying to shut down all the wormholes Sal creates, because Papi thinks they are eroding the very fabric of our world. All of Papi’s efforts are in vain, however, because a Gabi from another universe has gone rogue and is popping up all over the place, seeking revenge for the fact that her world has been destroyed. While Sal and Gabi work together to keep both Papi and Rogue Gabi under control, they also have to solve the mystery of Yasmany, who has gone missing from school. Could it have something to do with the wormhole in the back of his locker?

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SWASHBY AND THE SEA by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal (HMH Books for Young Readers, May 5, 2020). Picture Book. Captain Swashby loves the sea, his oldest friend. And he loves his life by the sea just as it is: salty and sandy and serene. One day, much to Swashby’s chagrin, a young girl and her granny commandeer the empty house next door. All Swashby wants is for his new neighbors to GO AWAY and take their ruckus with them.

When Swashby begins to leave notes in the sand for his noisy neighbors, however, the beach interferes with the messages that are getting across. Could it be that the captain’s oldest friend, the sea, knows what Swashby needs even better than he knows himself?

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THE MADRE DE AGUAS OF CUBA: The Unicorn Rescue Society #5 by Adam Godwitz and Emma Otheguy, illus by Hatem Aly (Dutton Books for Young Readers, May 12, 2020). Middle Grade. In Cuba, it is believed that a mysterious water serpent–the Madre de aguas–is responsible for providing and protecting the fresh water of the island. But the serpent is missing, and a drought has gripped the island. Uchenna, Elliot, and Professor Fauna fly to Cuba and endeavor to rescue the Madre de aguas. Unfortunately, it tries to kill them. Meanwhile, the Schmoke Brothers’ goons are driving around Havana, dumping pink sludge into the sewers. What is going on? Can Elliot and Uchenna end the drought? Stop the Schmokes? Or will the creature they are trying to save just eat them instead?

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SHARUKO: Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello by Monica Brown, illustrated by Elisa Chavarri (Lee & Low, May 12, 2020). Picture Book. Growing up in the late 1800s, Julio Tello, an Indigenous boy, spent time exploring the caves and burial grounds in the foothills of the Peruvian Andes. Nothing scared Julio, not even the ancient human skulls he found. His bravery earned him the boyhood nickname Sharuko, which means brave in Quechua, the language of the Native people of Peru.

At the age of twelve, Julio moved to Lima to continue his education. While in medical school, he discovered an article about the skulls he had found. The skulls had long ago been sent to Lima to be studied by scientists. The article renewed Julio’s interest in his ancestry, and he decided to devote his medical skills to the study of Peru’s Indigenous history.

Over his lifetime, Julio Tello made many revolutionary discoveries at archaeological sites around Peru, and he worked to preserve the historical treasures he excavated. He showed that Peru’s Indigenous cultures had been established thousands of years ago, disproving the popular belief that Peruvian culture had been introduced more recently from other countries. He fostered pride in his country’s Indigenous ancestry, making him a hero to all Peruvians. Because of the brave man once known as Sharuko, people around the world today know of Peru’s long history and its living cultural legacy.

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WE ARE NOT FROM HERE by Jenny Torres Sanchez (Philomel Books, May 19, 2020). Young Adult. Pulga has his dreams. Chico has his grief. Pequeña has her pride. And these three teens have one another. But none of them have illusions about the town they’ve grown up in and the dangers that surround them. Even with the love of family, threats lurk around every corner. And when those threats become all too real, the trio knows they have no choice but to run: from their country, from their families, from their beloved home.

Crossing from Guatemala through Mexico, they follow the route of La Bestia, the perilous train system that might deliver them to a better life–if they are lucky enough to survive the journey. With nothing but the bags on their backs and desperation drumming through their hearts, Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña know there is no turning back, despite the unknown that awaits them. And the darkness that seems to follow wherever they go.

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FEDERICO AND THE WOLF by Rebecca J. Gomez, illustrated by Elisa Chavarri (Clarion Books, May 19, 2020). Picture Book. With his red hoodie on and his bicycle basket full of food, Federico is ready to visit Abuelo. But on the way, he meets a hungry wolf. And now his grandfather bears a striking resemblance to el lobo. Fortunately, Federico is quick and clever—and just happens to be carrying a spicy surprise! Federico drives the wolf away, and he and Abuelo celebrate with a special salsa. Recipe included.

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HERE COMES OCEAN by Meg Fleming, illustrated by Paola Zakimi (Beach Lane Books, May 19, 2020). Picture Book. Grab a big bucket, your best pup pal, and a whole lot of imagination, and get ready for a day at the beach! There’s endless fun to be had chasing the waves and countless treasures waiting to be discovered—first a sand dollar, then a sandpiper feather, even a sneaky little crab. What surprises will the ocean reveal next?

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HOME HOME by Lisa Allen-Agostini (Delacorte Press, May 26, 2020). Moving from Trinidad to Canada wasn’t her idea. But after being hospitalized for depression, her mother sees it as the only option. Now, living with an estranged aunt she barely remembers and dealing with her “troubles” in a foreign country, she feels more lost than ever.

Everything in Canada is cold and confusing. No one says hello, no one walks anywhere, and bus trips are never-ending and loud. She just wants to be home home, in Trinidad, where her only friend is going to school and Sunday church service like she used to do.

But this new home also brings unexpected surprises: the chance at a family that loves unconditionally, the possibility of new friends, and the promise of a hopeful future. Though she doesn’t see it yet, Canada is a place where she can feel at home–if she can only find the courage to be honest with herself.

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NACHO’S NACHOS: The Story Behind the World’s Favorite Snack by Sandra Nickel, illustrated by Oliver Dominguez (Lee & Low, May 26, 2020). Picture Book. Ignacio Anaya was born in Mexico in 1895, and like a lot of Ignacios, he was nicknamed Nacho. Young Nacho loved to eat and cook, and when he grew up, he found a job in a restaurant. Eventually he became head waiter at the Victory Club, a popular restaurant in Piedras Negras, Mexico, right across the Rio Grande river from Eagle Pass, Texas.

One afternoon in 1940, during the Victory Club’s quiet hours between lunch and dinner, Mamie Finan, a regular customer from the US, walked in with three friends. They wanted a snack–something new, something different. Nacho rushed to the kitchen and improvised with what was on hand: corn tortillas, cheddar cheese, and jalapeño peppers. In that moment, Nacho’s Special, the dish that later became known simply as nachos, was born.

Word of this delicious new snack spread quickly. Soon restaurants all over Mexico, the United States, and later the world, were serving nachos. Little did Nacho know that his name would one day be a household word around the globe.

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CATEGORY FIVE by Ann Dávila Cardinal (Tor Teen, June 2, 2020). Young Adult. After the hurricane, some see destruction and some smell blood. The tiny island of Vieques, located just off the northeastern coast of the main island of Puerto Rico, is trying to recover after hurricane Maria, but the already battered island is now half empty. To make matters worse, as on the main island, developers have come in to buy up the land at a fraction of its worth, taking advantage of the island when it is down.

Lupe, Javier, and Marisol are back to investigate a series of murders that follow in the wake of a hurricane and in the shadow of a new supernatural threat.

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THE WAY TO RIO LUNA by Zoraida Córdova (Scholastic, June 2, 2020). Middle Grade. Eleven-year-old Danny Monteverde believes in magic. He knows that pixie dust is real, that wardrobes act as portals, and that rabbit holes lead to Wonderland. Most of all, he believes that his older sister, Pili, is waiting for him somewhere in Rio Luna, the enchanted land in their favorite book of fairy tales.

Danny doesn’t care what the adults say. He knows that Pili isn’t another teen runaway. When the siblings were placed in separate foster homes, she promised that she’d come back for him, and they’d build a new life together in Rio Luna.

Yet as the years pass, Danny’s faith begins to dim. But just when he thinks it might be time to put foolish fairy tales behind him, he finds a mysterious book in the library. It’s a collection of stories that contain hints about how to reach another world. A map to Rio Luna and to Pili.

As his adventure takes him from New York to Ecuador to Brazil, Danny learns that meeting your favorite characters isn’t always a dream come true. But nothing will stop him from finding his sister, even if it means standing up to the greatest threat the magical realm has ever known.

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CEMETERY BOYS by Aiden Thomas (Swoon Reads, June 9, 2020). Young Adult. Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him. When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.

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KINDERGARTEN HAT by Janet Lawler, illustrated by Geraldine Rodríguez (little bee books, June 9, 2020). Picture Book. Carlos Abredo loves building forts, playing soccer, vrooming cars, and gardening. But after moving to a new town, he’s nervous to start his first day of kindergarten. What if the bus gets lost? What if he can’t make friends? What if he can’t find his teacher?! Starting school can be intimidating for anyone, but when you’re also the new kid, it can be downright scary.

When Carlos gets a letter from his new teacher, he starts to feel a little better. He picks out a gift for her, and after a much-needed hug from Mom, he sets off for his first day. But when his present is accidentally ruined, will Carlos be able to salvage his first day of school?

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Image result for Eric VelasquezHOME |     ABOUT |     BOOKS |     CONTACT |     APPEARANCES |     ACADEMIC BOOKS |SHE WAS THE FIRST! The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm by Katheryn Russell-Brown, illustrated by Eric Velasquez (Lee & Low, June 9, 2020). Picture Book. Even as a young child growing up in the 1920s, Shirley Chisholm was a leader. At the age of three, older children were already following her lead in their Brooklyn neighborhood.

As a student at Brooklyn College, Shirley could outtalk anyone who opposed her on the debate team. After graduating, she used her voice and leadership to fight for educational change. In community groups, she stood up for the rights of women and minorities. Her small stature and fiery determination often took people by surprise. But they listened.

In 1964, Shirley took her voice and leadership to politics, becoming the first Black woman elected to the New York State Assembly, and in 1968, the first Black woman elected to Congress. Then in 1972, she became the first Black woman to seek the presidency of the United States. She pushed for laws that helped women, children, students, poor people, farm workers, Native people, and others who were often ignored. She fought for healthcare. She spoke up for military veterans. She spoke out against war.

Shirley Chisholm, a woman of many firsts, was an unforgettable political trailblazer, a candidate of the people and catalyst of change who opened the door for women in the political arena and for the first Black president of the United States.

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THE DREAM WEAVER by Reina Luz Alegre (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, June 23, 2020). Middle Grade. Zoey comes from a family of dreamers. From start-up companies to selling motorcycles, her dad is constantly chasing jobs that never seem to work out. As for Zoey, she’s willing to go along with whatever grand plans her dad dreams up—even if it means never staying in one place long enough to make real friends. Her family being together is all that matters to her.

So Zoey’s world is turned upside down when Dad announces that he’s heading to a new job in New York City without her. Instead, Zoey and her older brother, José, will stay with their Poppy at the Jersey Shore. At first, Zoey feels as lost and alone as she did after her mami died. But soon she’s distracted by an even bigger problem: the bowling alley that Poppy has owned for decades is in danger of closing!

After befriending a group of kids practicing for a summer bowling tournament, Zoey hatches a grand plan of her own to save the bowling alley. It seems like she’s found the perfect way to weave everyone’s dreams together…until unexpected events turn Zoey’s plan into one giant nightmare. Now, with her new friends counting on her and her family’s happiness hanging in the balance, Zoey will have to decide what her dream is—and how hard she’s willing to fight for it.

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13th STREET #1: BATTLE OF THE BAD-BREATH BATS by David Bowles, illustrated by Shane Clester (HarperCollins, July 7, 2020). Chapter Book. Cousins Malia, Ivan, and Dante are visiting their aunt Lucy for the summer. But on their way to Gulf City’s water park, they get lost on 13th Street. Only it’s not a street at all. It’s a strange world filled with dangerous beasts! Will the cousins find their way back to Aunt Lucy’s?

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13th STREET #2: THE FIRE-BREATHING FERRET FIASCO by David Bowles, illustrated by Shane Clester (HarperCollins, July 7, 2020). Chapter Book. Cousins Dante, Malia, and Ivan are happy to be back in their home town. But then their school bus takes a wrong turn and they end up on 13th Street! There are new monsters to fight, but at least they have their friend Susana and their bus driver to help them. Will the gang ever make it to their first day of class?

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13th STREET #3: CLASH OF THE CACKLING COUGARS by David Bowles, illustrated by Shane Clester (HarperCollins, July 7, 2020). Chapter Book. Ivan, Malia, and Dante are excited about their ski trip. There’s no chance they’ll stumble onto 13th Street in the mountains, right? WRONG! After being sucked through a portal, the cousins come face-to-face with joke-telling cougars that are more dangerous than they seem. How will the kids get out of trouble this time?

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PictureMUSE SQUAD: THE CASSANDRA CURSE by Chantel Acevedo (Balzer + Bray, July 7, 2020). Middle Grade. When a young Cuban American girl discovers that she’s one of the nine muses of Greek mythology, she must use her newfound powers to help a brilliant classmate who is destined to save humanity.

 

 

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RUNNING by Natalia Sylvester (Clarion Books, July 14, 2020). Young Adult. Senator Anthony Ruiz is running for president. Throughout his successful political career, he has always had his daughter’s vote, but a presidential campaign brings a whole new level of scrutiny to sheltered fifteen-year-old Mariana and the rest of her Cuban American family, from a 60 Minutes–style tour of their house to tabloids doctoring photos and inventing scandals. As tensions rise within the Ruiz family, Mari begins to learn about the details of her father’s political positions, and she realizes that her father is not the man she thought he was.

But how do you find your voice when everyone’s watching? When it means disagreeing with your father—publicly? What do you do when your dad stops being your hero? Will Mari get a chance to confront her father? If she does, will she have the courage to seize it?

OUR REVIEW: https://latinosinkidlit.com/2020/05/14/review-running-by-natalia-sylvester/

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THE TOTAL ECLIPSE OF NESTOR LOPEZ by Adrianna Cuevas (Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR, July 21, 2020). Middle Grade. All Nestor Lopez wants is to live in one place for more than a few months and have dinner with his dad.

When he and his mother move to a new town to live with his grandmother after his dad’s latest deployment, Nestor plans to lay low. He definitely doesn’t want anyone to find out his deepest secret: that he can talk to animals.

But when the animals in his new town start disappearing, Nestor’s grandmother becomes the prime suspect after she is spotted in the woods where they were last seen. As Nestor investigates the source of the disappearances, he learns that they are being seized by a tule vieja—a witch who can absorb an animal’s powers by biting it during a solar eclipse. And the next eclipse is just around the corner.

Now it’s up to Nestor’s extraordinary ability and his new friends to catch the tule vieja—and save a place he might just call home.

AUTHOR GUEST POST: https://latinosinkidlit.com/2019/10/24/guest-post-by-middle-grade-author-adrianna-cuevas/

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WAYWARD WITCH: BROOKLYN BRUJAS #3 by Zoraida Córdova (Sourcebooks Fire, August 1, 2020). Young Adult. Rose Mortiz has always been a fixer, but lately she’s been feeling lost. She has brand new powers that she doesn’t understand, and her family is still trying to figure out how to function in the wake of her amnesiac father’s return home. Then, on the night of her Death Day party, Rose discovers her father’s memory loss has been a lie.

As she rushes to his side, the two are ambushed and pulled through a portal to the land of Adas, the fairy realm. There, Rose is forced to work with a group of other powerful teens to save Adas. Soon, she begins to discover the scope of her powers, the troubling truth about her father’s past, and the sacrifices he made to save her sisters. But if Rose wants to return home so that she can repair her broken family, she must figure out how to heal Adas first.

 

MARIBEL VERSUS THE VOLCANO: A Mount St. Helen’s Survival Story by Sarah Hannah Gomez, illus. by Jane Pica (Stone Arch Books, August 1, 2020). Middle Grade. In 1980s Washington state, Mt. St. Helens is rumbling. Twelve-year-old Maribel isn’t concerned at first, despite officials evacuating her neighborhood. Her family is convinced it’s just a precaution, even as the mountain continues to rumble. Maribel decides to disobey orders and return home for items she and her sister left behind – just as the volcano finally erupts. As ash rains down, Maribel realizes she must learn to focus if she’s going to survive.

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VOLLEYBALL ACE: A Jake Maddox JV Girls Story text by Cindy L. Rodriguez (Stone Arch Books, August 1, 2020). Middle Grade. Until now, Layla has balanced her school work and volleyball easily enough. In eighth grade, though, academic expectations are tougher. Student-athletes need at least a C average in all classes to play sports. When Layla’s dedication to volleyball puts her algebra grade at risk, her chances of making the high school freshman team next year are on the line. Can she find a way to ace her classes like she does on the court?

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G.O.A.T–SERENA WILLIAMS by Tami Charles (Sterling Children’s Books, August 4, 2020). G.O.A.T. is an acronym that stands for Greatest Of All Time–and it takes lifelong dedication, nonstop hard work, and undeniable, unbelievable talent even to be considered for that honor. Serena Williams is the most decorated female tennis player of all time. She’s been ranked #1 by the Women’s Tennis Association countless times since 2002, and no one holds more Grand Slam titles–not just as a single’s player, but also, with her sister Venus, in women’s doubles. Find out all about this powerhouse player and her dozens of amazing victories in this entertaining book that’s packed with stats, sidebars, and details about the athlete’s journey.

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LOBIZONA: Wolves of No World #1 by Romina Garber (Wednesday Books, August 4, 2020). Young Adult. Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.

Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past—a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal, it’s her entire existence.

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ILLEGAL: A Disappeared Novel by Francisco X. Stork (Scholastic Press, August 4, 2020). Young Adult. Life in Mexico is a death sentence for Emiliano and his sister Sara. To escape the violent cartel that is after them, they flee across the border, seeking a better life in the United States and hoping that they can find a way to bring their pursuers to justice.

Sara turns herself over to the authorities to apply for asylum. Emiliano enters the country illegally, planning to live with their father.

But now Sara is being held indefinitely in a detention facility, awaiting an asylum hearing that may never come, finding it harder every day to hold on to her faith and hope. Life for Emiliano is not easy either. Everywhere he goes, it’s clear that he doesn’t belong. And all the while, the cartel is closing in on them.

Emiliano sets off on a tense and dangerous race to find justice, but can he expose the web of crimes from his place in the shadows?

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LUCI SOARS by Lulu Delacre (Philomel Books, August 4, 2020). Picture Book. Luci was born without a shadow. Mama says no one notices. But Luci does. And sometimes others do too. Sometimes they stare, sometimes they tease Luci, and sometimes they make her cry. But when Luci learns to look at what makes her different as a strength, she realizes she has more power than she ever thought. And that her differences can even be a superpower.

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PAOLA SANTIAGO AND THE RIVER OF TEARS by Tehlor Kay Mejia (Rick Riordan Presents, August 4, 2020). Middle Grade. Space-obsessed 12-year-old Paola Santiago and her two best friends, Emma and Dante, know the rule: Stay away from the river. It’s all they’ve heard since a schoolmate of theirs drowned a year ago. Pao is embarrassed to admit that she has been told to stay away for even longer than that, because her mother is constantly warning her about La Llorona, the wailing ghost woman who wanders the banks of the Gila at night, looking for young people to drag into its murky depths.

Hating her mother’s humiliating superstitions and knowing that she and her friends would never venture into the water, Pao organizes a meet-up to test out her new telescope near the Gila, since it’s the best stargazing spot. But when Emma never arrives and Pao sees a shadowy figure in the reeds, it seems like maybe her mom was right.

Pao has always relied on hard science to make sense of the world, but to find her friend she will have to enter the world of her nightmares, which includes unnatural mist, mind-bending monsters, and relentless spirits controlled by a terrifying force that defies both logic and legend.

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SIA MARTINEZ AND THE MOONLIT BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland (Simon Pulse, August 4, 2020). Young Adult. It’s been three years since ICE raids and phone calls from Mexico and an ill-fated walk across the Sonoran. Three years since Sia Martinez’s mom disappeared. Sia wants to move on, but it’s hard in her tiny Arizona town where people refer to her mom’s deportation as “an unfortunate incident.”

Sia knows that her mom must be dead, but every new moon Sia drives into the desert and lights San Anthony and la Guadalupe candles to guide her mom home.

Then one night, under a million stars, Sia’s life and the world as we know it cracks wide open. Because a blue-lit spacecraft crashes in front of Sia’s car, and it’s carrying her mom, who’s very much alive.

As Sia races to save her mom from armed-quite-possibly-alien soldiers, she uncovers secrets as profound as they are dangerous in this stunning and inventive exploration of first love, family, immigration, and our vast, limitless universe.

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WHAT IF A FISH by Anika Fajardo (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, August 4, 2020). Middle Grade. Half-Colombian Eddie Aguado has never really felt Colombian. Especially after Papa died. And since Mama keeps her memories of Papa locked up where Eddie can’t get to them, he only has Papa’s third-place fishing tournament medal to remember him by. He’ll have to figure out how to be more Colombian on his own.

As if by magic, the perfect opportunity arises. Eddie—who’s never left Minnesota—is invited to spend the summer in Colombia with his older half-brother. But as his adventure unfolds, he feels more and more like a fish out of water. Figuring out how to be a true colombiano might be more difficult than he thought.

 

FUSSY FLAMINGO by Shelly Vaughan James, illustrated by Matthew Rivera (Sourcebooks, August 7, 2020). Picture Book. Meet Lola, the “no, no” flamingo. Lola will NOT eat shrimp, thank you very much. She does NOT care that it will turn her feathers pink. It is just plain yucky. But when Lola sneaks other snacks, she discovers that you really are what you eat. This very silly story will delight even the pickiest of young readers and resonate with parents eager to see just one bite. Don’t miss the fun flamingo facts in the back!

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QUEEN OF TEJANO MUSIC: SELENA by Silvia López, illustrated by Paola Escobar (little bee books, August 25, 2020). Picture Book. Selena Quintanilla’s music career began at the age of nine when she started singing in her family’s band. She went from using a hairbrush as a microphone to traveling from town to town to play gigs. But Selena faced a challenge: People said that she would never make it in Tejano music, which was dominated by male performers. Selena was determined to prove them wrong.

Born and raised in Texas, Selena didn’t know how to speak Spanish, but with the help of her dad, she learned to sing it. With songs written and composed by her older brother and the fun dance steps Selena created, her band, Selena Y Los Dinos, rose to stardom! A true trailblazer, her success in Tejano music and her crossover into mainstream American music opened the door for other Latinx entertainers, and she became an inspiration for Latina girls everywhere.

OUR REVIEW: https://latinosinkidlit.com/2020/04/16/book-review-queen-of-tejano-music-selena-by-silvia-lopez-illus-by-paola-escobar/

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NEVER LOOK BACK  by Lilliam Rivera (Bloomsbury, September 1, 2020). Young Adult. Eury comes to the Bronx as a girl haunted. Haunted by losing everything in Hurricane Maria–and by an evil spirit, Ato. She fully expects the tragedy that befell her and her family in Puerto Rico to catch up with her in New York. Yet, for a time, she can almost set this fear aside, because there’s this boy . . .

Pheus is a golden-voiced, bachata-singing charmer, ready to spend the summer on the beach with his friends, serenading his on-again, off-again flame. That changes when he meets Eury. All he wants is to put a smile on her face and fight off her demons. But some dangers are too powerful for even the strongest love, and as the world threatens to tear them apart, Eury and Pheus must fight for each other and their lives.

 

Image result for SHADOW CROSSER BOOK COVERTHE SHADOW CROSSER (Book 3 of the Storm Runner series) by J.C. Cervantes (Rick Riordan Presents, September 1, 2020). Zane Obispo has been looking forward to his training at the Shaman Institute for Higher Order Magic, and not only because it means he’ll be reunited with his best friend, Brooks. Anything would be better than how he has spent the last three months: searching for the remaining godborns with a nasty demon who can sniff them out (literally). But when Zane tracks down the last kid on his list, he’s in for a surprise: the “one” is actually a pair of twins, and they’re trying to prevent a mysterious object from falling into the wrong hands.

After a shocking betrayal, Zane finds himself at SHIHOM sooner than expected. Even more shocking is the news that the Maya gods have gone missing. The bat god, Camazotz, and Ixkik’ (aka Blood Moon) have taken them out of commission . . . and the godborns are their next target. The only thing the villains need now? The object that the twins possess.

Zane knows the godborns aren’t strong enough yet to stand up to Zotz, Ixkik’, and their army. There might be a way to save the gods, but it involves locating a magical calendar that can see across time and space . . . not to mention traveling more than thirty years into the past.

In The Shadow Crosser, Zane and his friends embark on their most treacherous mission yet–a mission that, with one blunder, could change history as we know it, and worse, destroy the universe.

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SECRETS OF THE SILVER LION: CARMEN SANDIEGO by Emma Otheguy (HMH Books for Young Readers, September 8, 2020). For centuries, the magnificent Throne of Felipe has stood with two empty spaces beside its famous silver arrow—spaces where the silver castle and lion should have been. And now, with the recent discovery of the silver castle within a secret vault in Seville, Spain, the hunt is on for the third silver icon. With all three pieces in the place, the throne will be enormously valuable—making it a hot item on VILE’s radar. Now it’s up to Carmen and crew to find the silver lion before VILE does, and protect the throne from winding up in the wrong hands.

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DIGGING FOR WORDS: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built by Angela Burke Kunkel, illustrated by Paola Escobar (Random House/Schwartz & Wade, September 8, 2020). Picture Book. The book tells the story of a garbage collector in Bogotá, known as the “Lord of the Books,” whose library project began with a single discarded book found on his garbage route, and has expanded to provide reading material to more than 200 schools, organizations, and libraries across Colombia.

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Image result for LUPE WONG WON'T DANCE BOOK COVERLUPE WONG WON’T DANCE by Donna Barba Higuera (Levine Querido, September 8, 2020). Middle Grade. Lupe Wong is going to be the first female pitcher in the Major Leagues.

She’s also championed causes her whole young life. Some worthy…like expanding the options for race on school tests beyond just a few bubbles. And some not so much…like complaining to the BBC about the length between Doctor Who seasons.

Lupe needs an A in all her classes in order to meet her favorite pitcher, Fu Li Hernandez, who’s Chinacan/Mexinese just like her. So when the horror that is square dancing rears its head in gym? Obviously she’s not gonna let that slide.

 

Image result for evelyn delray is moving away"EVELYN DELREY IS MOVING AWAY by Meg Medina, illustrated by Sonia Sánchez (Candlewick, September 8, 2020). Picture Book. Two best friends must say goodbye to each other when one of them moves away.

 

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A THOUSAND WHITE BUTTERFLIES by Jessica Betancourt-Perez and Karen Lynn Williams, illustrated by Gina Maldonado (Charlesbridge, September 15, 2020). Picture Book. As if being new to the United States wasn’t hard enough, Isabella’s first day of school is canceled due to snow! Isabella has recently arrived from Colombia with her mother and abuela. She misses Papa, who is still in South America. It’s her first day of school, her make-new-friends day, but when classes are canceled because of too much snow, Isabella misses warm, green, Colombia more than ever. Then Isabella meets Katie and finds out that making friends in the cold is easier than she thought!

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LAND OF THE CRANES by Aida Salazar (Scholastic, September 15, 2020). Middle Grade. Nine-year-old Betita knows she is a crane. Papi has told her the story, even before her family fled to Los Angeles to seek refuge from cartel wars in Mexico. The Aztecs came from a place called Aztlan, what is now the Southwest US, called the land of the cranes. They left Aztlan to establish their great city in the center of the universe-Tenochtitlan, modern-day Mexico City. It was prophesized that their people would one day return to live among the cranes in their promised land. Papi tells Betita that they are cranes that have come home.

Then one day, Betita’s beloved father is arrested by Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) and deported to Mexico. Betita and her pregnant mother are left behind on their own, but soon they too are detained and must learn to survive in a family detention camp outside of Los Angeles. Even in cruel and inhumane conditions, Betita finds heart in her own poetry and in the community she and her mother find in the camp. The voices of her fellow asylum seekers fly above the hatred keeping them caged, but each day threatens to tear them down lower than they ever thought they could be. Will Betita and her family ever be whole again?

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OUR SUBWAY BABY by Peter Mercurio, illustrated by Leo Espinosa (Dial Books, September 15, 2020). Picture Book. “Some babies are born into their families. Some are adopted. This is the story of how one baby found his family in the New York City subway.”

So begins the true story of Kevin and how he found his Daddy Danny and Papa Pete. Written in a direct address to his son, Pete’s moving and emotional text tells how his partner, Danny, found a baby tucked away in the corner of a subway station on his way home from work one day. Pete and Danny ended up adopting the baby together. Although neither of them had prepared for the prospect of parenthood, they are reminded, “Where there is love, anything is possible.”

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Image result for EACH OF US A DESERT MARK OSHIRO BOOK COVEREACH OF US A DESERT by Mark Oshiro (Tor Teen, September 15, 2020). Young Adult. Xochital is destined to wander the desert alone, speaking her troubled village’s stories into its arid winds. Her only companions are the blessed stars above and enimagic lines of poetry magically strewn across dusty dunes.

Her one desire: to share her heart with a kindred spirit.

One night, Xo’s wish is granted—in the form of Emilia, the cold and beautiful daughter of the town’s murderous mayor. But when the two set out on a magical journey across the desert, they find their hearts could be a match… if only they can survive the nightmare-like terrors that arise when the sun goes down.

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Image result for MISS METEOR BOOK COVERMISS METEOR by Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemore (HarperCollins, September 22, 2020). Young Adult. Two friends, one made of stardust and one fighting to save her family’s diner, take on their small town’s 50th annual pageant and talent competition in the hopes that they can change their town’s destiny, and their own.

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Zoraida Córdova - credit Sarah YoungerImage result for natalie c parkerVAMPIRES NEVER GET OLD: Ten Tales with Fresh Bite edited by Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker (Imprint, September 22, 2020). A YA fantasy anthology featuring fresh takes on old souls with vampire stories.

 

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FURIA by Yamile Saied Méndez (Algonquin Young Readers, September 29, 2020). In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life. At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.

On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.

But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol–and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.

Filled with authentic details and the textures of day-to-day life in Argentina, heart-soaring romance, and breathless action on the pitch, Furia is the story of a girl’s journey to make her life her own.

 

FELIZ NEW YEAR, AVA GABRIELA by Alexandra Alessandri, illus. by Addy Rivera Sonda (Albert Whitman, October 1, 2020). Picture Book. Ava Gabriela is visiting her extended family in Colombia for the holidays. She’s excited to take part in family traditions such as making bunuelos, but being around all her loud relatives in an unfamiliar place makes Ava shy and quiet. How will Ava find her voice before she misses out on all the New Year’s fun?

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A SLED FOR GABO/UN TRINEO PARA GABO by Emma Otheguy, illustrated by Ana Ramírez González (Atheneum, October 1, 2020). Picture Book. About a boy and his family’s adjustment to snowy weather and their creative solutions for enjoying a wintry day.

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ALL BECAUSE YOU MATTER by Tami Charles, illustrated by Bryan Collier (Orchard Books, October 6, 2020). Picture Book. This powerful, rhythmic lullaby reassures readers that their matter and their worth is never diminished, no matter the circumstance: through the joy and wonder of their first steps and first laughter, through the hardship of adolescent struggles and the pain and heartbreak of current events, they always have, and always will, matter.

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A CUBAN GIRL’S GUIDE TO TEA AND TOMORROW by Laura Taylor Namey (Atheneum, October 6, 2020). Young Adult. For Lila Reyes, a summer in England was never part of the plan. The plan was 1) take over her abuela’s role as head baker at their panadería, 2) move in with her best friend after graduation, and 3) live happily ever after with her boyfriend. But then the Trifecta happened, and everything—including Lila herself—fell apart.

Worried about Lila’s mental health, her parents make a new plan for her: Spend three months with family friends in Winchester, England, to relax and reset. But with the lack of sun, a grumpy inn cook, and a small town lacking Miami flavor (both in food and otherwise), what would be a dream trip for some feels more like a nightmare to Lila…until she meets Orion Maxwell.

A teashop clerk with troubles of his own, Orion is determined to help Lila out of her funk, and appoints himself as her personal tour guide. From Winchester’s drama-filled music scene to the sweeping English countryside, it isn’t long before Lila is not only charmed by Orion, but England itself. Soon a new future is beginning to form in Lila’s mind—one that would mean leaving everything she ever planned behind.

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Are You Ready to Soar? Revealing Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz ...BLAZEWRATH GAMES by Amparo Ortiz (Page Street, October 6, 2020). Young Adult. A contemporary fantasy about 17-year-old Lana Torres, who after rescuing a prized dragon from an attacker is awarded a spot on her native Puerto Rico’s Blazewrath World Cup team. But the return of the Sire, an ancient dragon who’s cursed to remain in human form, threatens to compromise this year’s tournament.

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COME ON IN edited by Adi Alsaid (Inkyard Press, October 13, 2020). a YA anthology covering the experience of immigration, curated and edited by Adi Alsaid. The book features short stories by YA authors who are either immigrants or the children of immigrants, including Samira Ahmed, Zoraida Córdova, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Maurene Goo, Justine Larbalestier, Sona Charaipotra, and many others.

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BEDTIME FOR SUPERHEROES by Katherine Locke, illustrated by Rayanne Vieira (Running Press Kids, November 3, 2020). Picture Book. Being a superhero is hard work! Fighting evil, catching bad guys, saving the day, and it’s messy too! After a long day of being a superhero, even the best superhero has to take a bath, wash their superhero clothes, and rest up for another day of saving the world. With punchy words, bouncing lines, and a whole lot of respect for the hard work superheroes do, this is a great bedtime read for all kinds of superhero kids.

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BLACKWATER by Jeannette Arroyo, Ren Graham (Henry Holt, 2020). YA Graphic Novel. When Tony, a restless star athlete, and Eli, a quiet outsider, form an unlikely friendship in their small Maine town, they find themselves tracking down the source of a werewolf curse and heeding the warnings of ghosts, all while exploring their budding feelings for each other and dealing with typical high school drama.

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DOODLES FROM THE BOOGIE DOWN by Stephanie Rodriguez (Kokila, Spring 2020). A middle grade graphic novel by debut author-illustrator Stephanie Rodriguez. The book, which is autobiographically inspired, follows a young Latina in the Bronx, who navigates friendships and a strict mother as she carves out a place for herself in the world as a budding artist.

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LILLYBELLE, A DAMSEL NOT IN DISTRESS by Joana Pastro (Kane Press, 2020). Picture Book. At the School for Damsels, LillyBelle enjoys many damsel-in-training classes, like cake baking and vocal training, but the rule that a damsel must be in distress . . . not so much. When she’s captured by one villain after another, LillyBelle will need to use her charm and her wit to save herself and prove once and for all that damsels don’t have to be in distress–all in time for tea!

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Image result for hilda eunice burgosMIOSOTIS FLORES NEVER FORGETS by Hilda Eunice Burgos (Lee & Low, 2020). Middle Grade. Miosotis struggles with her growing distance from her college-aged sister, until her work with an abandoned dog at a local animal rescue leads her to realize her sister may be experiencing similar abuse.

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PictureMISS QUINCES by Kat Fajardo (Scholastic/Graphix, 2020). Miss Quinces features Sue, a Honduran-American girl who, instead of going to sleepaway camp with her friends, gets stuck visiting family in Honduras and having a surprise quinceañera, which is the last thing Sue wants—until she grows to appreciate both her family and their traditions. Simultaneous publication in both English and Spanish.

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QUIET NO MORE by Nikki Barthelmess (Flux, October 13, 2020). Young Adult. After surviving sexual assault by her father and six months in foster care, college freshman Victoria Parker is trying to move on with her life. She’s focusing on the positives–attending college, living on her own, repairing old relationships and making new ones, and getting involved with an abuse survivors activist group on campus. But everything’s thrown into disarray when a strange woman shows up, claiming to be Victoria’s aunt and asking Victoria to lie about what happened to her. With her father’s sentencing in a few months, Victoria’s nervous about having to share the truth of what happened with a judge. She’s not even sure if she has the strength to go through with it. But when her fellow club members begin pressuring her to speak out, Victoria has to decide how to share her story while remaining true to herself.

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Stacks Image 58PictureXO, EXOPLANET by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Jorge Lacera (Disney-Hyperion, 2020). Picture Book. XO, EXOPLANET is about the planets of our solar system spotting another planet outside the system—an exoplanet—and reaching out to it, via letter, to express their happiness that it is in the galaxy. But feelings get stepped on as the correspondence continues. Who is really the exoplanet here?

Finding a Home in Stories: A Guest Post by Middle-Grade Author Adrianna Cuevas

By Adrianna Cuevas

In my debut middle grade novel, The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez (Publication date: 5/12/20, FSG/Macmillan), military kid Nestor Lopez moves houses so much, he loses his sense of place. He finds a home trading books with his deployed dad, father and son writing notes and questions in the page margins while artistic Nestor adds illustrations. Stories connect him to his dad stationed thousands of miles away.

When Nestor reads a book with his father, he’s able to explore his dad’s military experiences in a new way and the book enables conversations service members are often reluctant to engage in. As Nestor explains:

“I flip through the pages of this book, Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers, and stop the first time I see Dad’s handwriting. I press my fingers over his words, closing my eyes and imagining him sitting in his rack, reading. I flip through each page, looking for his handwriting, scanning for evidence of the life he lives when he’s away from us.”

Stories connect Nestor to those around him and deepen his relationships—particularly important for a boy who feels that home is something impermanent and unreliable.

Not all young readers will relate to Nestor’s constant moves. Not all will connect with the concept of a parent who is far away. But regardless of their current situation, readers can see books as a home. A place to retreat. A place to feel seen and accepted.

Growing up, that’s what books were to me.

My teenage social life summed up in one photo

As a child, I devoured any story I could get my hands on. With parents and a sister who were all avid readers, trips to the library to fill up bags of books and evenings spent browsing bookstore shelves were as expected as pastelitos for Nochebuena and Celia Cruz on the radio. I knew the bookstore and library at the University of Miami, where my dad was a professor, as well as my own house.

The books of my childhood transported me to places I’d never been. As a Florida girl, I was obsessed with the snowy wilderness in Jack London short stories. A solitary introvert, I marveled at the friendships in the Babysitters Club series. My early thirst for the gruesome and grim was satisfied by an illustrated edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories and poems. I didn’t think I needed books with Cuban-American main characters because my culture was all around me in Miami—in the food, the language, the music.

It wasn’t until I moved to the Midwest for college that I realized what a haven books can be for readers. I’d never lived anywhere so homogenous, both culturally and ideologically. In Miami, I was allowed to be a book-obsessed hockey fan who was bad at sports and loved to travel. In my new surroundings, I was Latina, nothing more and always less. I was complimented on my mastery of the English language, even though I didn’t speak Spanish fluently until I was in my twenties. Despite receiving an academic college scholarship, I was required to attend seminars about how not to get pregnant and drop out, the expectation for minority students. I was met with confused stares when I confessed that I didn’t like spicy foods because don’t all Mexicans like that? No longer able to see my culture or myself in my environment, I turned once again to my reliable home—books.

I shielded myself from ignorance and microaggressions I had never before experienced by diving into books by Sandra Cisneros, Julia Alvarez, Margarita Engle, and Isabel Allende. Their words were familiar, a hand on my shoulder telling me I wasn’t alone. In their stories, I saw loud, boisterous families that mirrored my own. I read mouthwatering descriptions of the food I missed, whose ingredients weren’t even available to me anymore. My language was presented as something beautiful and poetic, not something to be overcome and unlearned. I had never understood the importance of seeing yourself represented in stories until I wasn’t represented in the society around me.

In Total Eclipse, Nestor moves from a place where he is seen and accepted to a place where he is misunderstood and othered. For the first time in his life, he lives off-post and experiences what it’s like to live away from a military base.

“Fort Hood had a Whataburger, a video arcade, and a comic book shop… Most kids at school had parents in the military, so everyone understood if you didn’t want to talk in the middle of science because your dad had flown across an ocean the night before. Now Mom’s moved me to a town where I’m a circus freak. An alien from a distant planet. My only comfort is knowing I might not be here long.”

Unfortunately, Nestor doesn’t have the option like I did to dive into stories and see himself in books, as military family representation, especially Latinx families, is incredibly small in children’s literature. How much would it have meant to him to have books like Pablo Cartaya’s Each Tiny Spark to help him while his father is deployed?

Similarly, my choices when I moved to the Midwest were limited and it was difficult to find books that reflected my Cuban-American experience. Twenty years ago, the catalog of stories featuring characters like me was microscopic. How much more at home would I have felt with Nina Moreno’s Don’t Date Rosa Santos or Laura Taylor Namey’s The Library of Lost Things at my disposal when I was an awkward freshman? I would have taken Celia Perez’s The First Rule of Punk and Strange Birds, as well as Carlos Hernandez’s Sal and Gabi Break the Universe to college with me, turning to them when I felt othered and isolated.

Children deserve to see themselves in stories, not just as caricatures of their culture, but as representatives of the diversity that exists within a culture and as humans with all their quirks and flaws. Nestor Lopez isn’t just a Cuban-American kid who scarfs down his abuela’s croquetas de jamón and plays dominos with his abuelo. He loves dart gun battles, Pokémon cards, and random animal trivia. He’s quick with a snarky remark and his fingers are constantly smudged with pencil lead from sketching. It is my hope that in Nestor, young readers will find a friend they can relate to who shares their eccentricities and hopes.

In a world increasingly antagonistic toward Latinx people, our words as authors have the opportunity to whisper to children, “You are not alone.” Our books can serve as a blanket that warms them when they’re surrounded by the coldness of indifference and ignorance. Our characters can show them they can be heroes.

Our stories can welcome them home.

 

 

Adrianna Cuevas is a first-generation Cuban-American originally from Miami, Florida. After teaching Spanish and ESOL for sixteen years, she decided to pursue her passion for storytelling. Adriana currently resides outside of Austin, Texas, with her husband and son, where they enjoy hiking, traveling, and cooking lots of Cuban food. Learn more about Adrianna on her website. And be sure to follow her on Twitter!

 

Spotlight on Middle Grade Authors Part 12: Tami Charles

 

By Cindy L. Rodriguez

This is the twelfth 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 Tami Charles.

Former teacher. Wannabe chef. Tami Charles writes books for children and young adults. Her middle grade novel, Like Vanessa, earned Top 10 spots on the Indies Introduce and Spring Kids’ Next lists, three starred reviews, and a Junior Library Guild selection. Her recent titles include a humorous middle grade, Definitely Daphne, picture book, Freedom Soup, and YA novel, Becoming BeatrizWhen Tami isn’t writing, she can be found presenting at schools both stateside and abroad. (Or sneaking in a nap…because sleep is LIFE!)

Becoming Beatriz released September 17, 2019.

 

Here is the publisher’s description:

Beatriz dreams of a life spent dancing–until tragedy on the day of her quinceañera changes everything.

Up until her fifteenth birthday, the most important thing in the world to Beatriz Mendez was her dream of becoming a professional dancer and getting herself and her family far from the gang life that defined their days–that and meeting her dance idol Debbie Allen on the set of her favorite TV show, Fame. But after the latest battle in a constant turf war leaves her brother, Junito, dead and her mother grieving, Beatriz has a new set of priorities. How is she supposed to feel the rhythm when her brother’s gang needs running, when her mami can’t brush her own teeth, and when the last thing she can remember of her old self is dancing with her brother, followed by running and gunshots? When the class brainiac reminds Beatriz of her love of the dance floor, her banished dreams sneak back in. Now the only question is: will the gang let her go?

Set in New Jersey in 1984, Beatriz’s story is a timeless one of a teenager’s navigation of romance, her brother’s choices, and her own family’s difficult past. A companion novel to the much-lauded Like Vanessa.

Tami Charles

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

First and foremost, my mother played a huge role in my love of reading. She was a teacher (and eventual principal) at my elementary school, so I didn’t really have a choice, ha! She introduced me to many of my favorite authors: Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Lois Lowry, Beverly Cleary, etc…When I became a teacher, I experienced the joy of reading more diverse books that I wasn’t exposed to as much while growing up. This really reignited my passion to become an author.

Q. Why did you decide to write a middle grade novel?

I clearly remember this period of my life when I was trying to figure out who I am and who I wanted to be. It only seemed right to get those feelings on the page. My debut, Like Vanessa, was born out of similar personal experiences I went through as a 13-year-old.

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

For sure, the One Crazy Summer series by Rita Williams-Garcia. I also love Crossover by Kwame Alexander and Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.

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

Put your blinders on! Don’t worry about what other people are doing, how smart they are, how athletic they are, etc…Just follow your own path.

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

they provide real connections for readers that will stay with them for years to come.

Books by Tami Charles:

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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 (Bloomsbury 2015). She also has an essay in Life Inside My Mind (Simon Pulse 2018). She can be found on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

 

Book Review: Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers by Celia C. Pérez

 

Review by Cris Rhodes

DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK: When three very different girls find a mysterious invitation to a lavish mansion, the promise of adventure and mischief is too intriguing to pass up.

Ofelia Castillo (a budding journalist), Aster Douglas (a bookish foodie), and Cat Garcia (a rule-abiding birdwatcher) meet the kid behind the invite, Lane DiSanti, and it isn’t love at first sight. But they soon bond over a shared mission to get the Floras, their local Scouts, to ditch an outdated tradition. In their quest for justice, independence, and an unforgettable summer, the girls form their own troop and find something they didn’t know they needed: sisterhood.

MY TWO CENTS: The stakes of activism are not the same for all who engage. Skin color, gender presentation, age—all of these are contributing factors to who is most at-risk when being a visible activist. But, as Celia C. Pérez’s sophomore novel, Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers, rightly notes, “’[s]ometimes the desire for change is bigger than anything else’” (270). For Ofelia, Aster, Cat, and Lane—the desire to change the outdated traditions of the scout troop, the Floras, is bigger than the risks they encounter. Spurred by Cat’s passion for birds, the girls decide to campaign to change the Floras’s most cherished symbol: the feathered hat worn by the winner of the Miss Floras contest. The hat, however, is a relic of a past that nearly caused the extinction of multiple bird species across the United States.

AudubonWhile the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 outlawed the practices that lead to the creation of hats like those worn by the winner of the Miss Floras contest, it didn’t outlaw the hats that already existed. The hat’s persistence in the lore of the Floras is problematic, but the hat represents different things for each girl. For Cat, the hat is the Floras’s suspension in the past; for Lane, the hat is an opportunity to rebel and make friends; for Ofelia, the hat is a chance to broaden her journalistic horizons; and for Aster, the hat parallels her desires to learn more about her own family history. Each girl’s storyline weaves together into a mission for change, even if the desired outcome (getting rid of the hat) stands in for something divergent for each.

When I first started reading, I struggled a bit with remembering the distinction between each character, but I settled into the text quickly and was soon immersed in the community of Sabal Palms, Florida. On an aesthetic level, the text is upbeat, funny, and conversational. It makes the reader feel like they’re right beside Lane, Cat, Ofelia, and Aster as they plan their various (and often ill-fated) maneuvers against the Floras. The book also contains paratextual material corresponding to each character—like recipes from Aster or journalism tips from Ofelia. Like many recent books for young readers, Strange Birds is a good introduction to activism for young people who want to become more engaged in their worlds.

Further, in these unique, young characters, Pérez has created an ensemble cast that will resonate with a wide array of readers. Each girl is quite different—in fact, when Pérez revealed the cover of the novel on Nerdy Book Club, she included a personality quiz that lets readers see which girl they are most like (I’m an Ofelia, for the record, por supuesto).

Nevertheless, with a cast of characters like this, of young women from such different backgrounds, there is always tension. That Pérez doesn’t shy away from these moments is significant. Rather than sugarcoat their friendships and smooth over any dissonance, Pérez reveals the ways each girl wrestles with what could easily become asymmetrical relationships. Lane, the granddaughter of Sabal Palm’s most affluent family, has a distinct privilege among the other characters, not just because of her wealth but also because of her race. Often posed against Aster—the granddaughter of the first Black professor at Sabal Palms University and whose ancestors worked for Lane’s—Lane’s privileges are thrown into sharp contrast. When she must confront these privileges, all of the characters, including the Latinas Cat and Ofelia, take a look at their positionality within their community. In confronting how their social statuses are stratified by race and class, the girls grow closer because they acknowledge their differences. Resultantly, I view this as a strong text to introduce readers to the concept of intersectional feminism, a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw to explain that “because of [women of color’s] intersectional identity as both women and of color within discourses that are shaped to respond to one or the other, women of color are marginalized within both” (from “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color” published in Stanford Law Review).

Ultimately, this is not a novel of single experiences. This is a novel that celebrates diversity. As with her debut middle-grade novel The First Rule of Punk, Pérez has invited readers to experience childhood as a time of transformation and self-actualization, a time of difference and discovery. Importantly, Strange Birds allows space for and encourages those discoveries to unfold, spread their wings, and take flight.

 

image.pngABOUT THE AUTHOR: Celia C. Pérez is the daughter of a Mexican mother and a Cuban father.  Her debut book for young readers, The First Rule of Punk, was a 2018 Pura Belpré Award Honor Book, a 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards honor book, a winner of the 2018 Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, a Junior Library Guild selection, and was included in several best of the year lists including the Amelia Bloomer List, NPR’s Best Books of 2017, the Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Books, the New York Public Library’s Best Books for Kids, School Library Journal’s Best of 2017, The Horn Book Magazine’s Fanfare, and ALSC’s Notable Children’s Books. Her second book for young readers, Strange Birds, will be published by Kokila, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers in September 2019.

She lives in Chicago with her family where, in addition to writing books about lovable weirdos and outsiders, she works as a librarian. She is originally from Miami, Florida, where roosters and peacocks really do wander the streets.

 

ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Cris Rhodes is an assistant professor of English at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. She teaches courses of writing, culturally diverse literature, and ethnic literatures. In addition to teaching, Cris’s scholarship focuses on Latinx youth and their literature or related media. She also has a particular scholarly interest in activism and the ways that young Latinxs advocate for themselves and their communities.

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