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How Tía Lola Learned to Teach

13 Dec

Tía Lola has been embraced by Vermont. A place she is learning to love even though it’s cold and far from her home.

Nita and Miguel love her. Until Bridgeport Elementary School decides that they want her to teach Spanish. Miguel freaks out. It’s okay to have his Tía at home, but not at school.

Tía Lola continues to work her magic at school as she has everywhere else. She helps Nita and Miguel and their classes. Until Homeland Security writes — her visa is expiring. And everyone rallies around to keep Tía Lola right there in Vermont.


How Tía Lola Came to (Visit) Stay by Julia Alvarez

13 Dec

No kid wants to feel different. And lately, Miguel is feeling very, very different. His family just moved to Vermont from New York. His parents are getting a divorce. No one at his school has a name like Miguel. No one speaks Spanish or even Spanglish. No one is brown like his family…at least not in the winter.

To top it all off, his mother’s Tía Lola is coming up from the Dominican Republic to visit and to help care for him and his sister, Juanita. Tía Lola, who raised his mother after her parents died, doesn’t speak any English. She practices Santería. She’s a force of nature. A tropical wind in the midst of a cold Vermont winter. A force of nature Miguel is trying to hide. Because his Tía Lola is certainly not going to help him fit in or make friends. He can’t wait for her visit to end. But will it?

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

13 Dec

Leo Valdez is Jason’s best friend at their camp for kids with “issues” or is he? Because all of a sudden Jason can’t remember anything but his name. Leo thinks Jason’s playing a prank while they’re on a bus to the  Grand Canyon. But really Jason’s mind is Swiss Cheese.

Then things start going crazy. And Leo, Jason and Piper (Jason’s girl friend) are ferried away on a Pegasus to Camp Half Blood. What’s going on? Leo, an orphan, who goes from foster home to foster home, is a loner. Suddenly, he finds himself a demi-god. The son of Hephaestus and Esperanza Valdez. A real-life Handy Manny, who can summon fire.

The three friends find themselves on a quest to find the Lost Hero and Jason’s memory.

Becoming Naomi León by Pam Muñoz Ryan

13 Dec

Naomi Soledad León Outlaw hates her name. She’s not much of an outlaw. She’s not much of a lion either. She’s more of a mouse. She whispers. Her brother Owen has some disabilities but is super smart. He puts tape on his clothes. He gets teased a lot. They are both half Mexican but only Naomi looks the part, with dark olive skin, brown hair and brown eyes. Owen takes after the other half, with fair skin.

Their great-grandmother (Gram)makes most of their clothes. Out of scrap polyester. Actually they both get teased a lot. Naomi is part of the left over crowd. She eats lunch in the cafeteria with the rest of the left over bunch.

They live with Gram at the Avocado Acres Trailer Rancho, in their trailer, Baby Beluga. Owen plays checkers. Naomi carves soap into animal shapes. It’s a gift. Gram sews  with their friend, and neighbor, Fabiola. All is fine till her mother Terri Lynn, now knows as Skyla, comes into town like a tornado and shakes everything up. Skyla is an unknown to Naomi and Owen. And even their Gram doesn’t know what’s going on, or what Skyla and her boyfriend want.

But when Skyla shows her hand, the Outlaws have to go on the run. To Oaxaca Mexico. And Naomi needs to abandon her inner mouse and discover and develop the lion inside of her.

The Red Umbrella by Cristina Diaz Gonzalez

13 Dec

Lucía, 14,  lives in Cuba just as Castro begins his take over. She wants to grow up and be more independent. She wants some space. She doesn’t want to be treated like a baby, like her 7 year old brother Frankie.

She is more concerned about fashion and parties than politics.  But that’s not true of school friends who are swept up by the movement, joining the youth brigade and become brainwashed. In quick  order things change. She finds their beloved pharmacist hanging from a tree in the local park. Her father loses his job. Her uncle turns on them. Lucía is suddenly becoming more grown up, and not the way she wanted to be.

Her parents enrolled Lucía and her brother in the Pedro Pan Program, which arranged for children to leave Cuba for the US. Suddenly, Lucía and her Frankie, are in Maine, then quickly transferred to Nebraska and living with the Baxters until their parents can come.

Nebraska isn’t Cuba. It’s cold. There’s snow. The food is different. Lucía is no longer the well dressed, rich girl. She’s wearing hand me downs. She has trouble fitting in. High school kids, then as now, are wary of the new kid, especially when she has an accent. Frankie has it easier. He’s little and he likes to play ball.

The year goes slowly as they follow the political turmoil in their homeland and pray for their parents safety.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

10 Dec

Esperanza Ortega  lives a charmed life in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Beautiful clothes, porcelain dolls, she lives on a huge rancho, Rancho de las Rosas, with  servants and extended family who cater to her every whim. But all that changes one day when tragedy strikes the rancho. Esperanza and her mother, Ramona, leave with the rancho foreman and his family, for Southern California during the depression in 1930. It takes awhile for Esperanza to realize how much her life has changed. It’s not just the clothes, the toys, the work. Or the dust. Where and how they live. It’s everything. She is no longer the rich girl, she’s the immigrant worker. But when her mother falls ill, Esperanza becomes the hope of her family. Hope rising for their future in the US and distancing themselves from their past.

Facts of Life by Gary Soto

8 Dec

In this book of short stories, Gary Soto tells about kids who have problems just like everyone else. Well, maybe not exactly, but similar or close enough. They get in trouble. They’re not happy. They’re poor. They get bad grades.

In Where Did I Go Wrong? Mickey Cortéz wonders if he’s really helping a man move his grandfather’s things. Or is it something more sinister instead? Lisa Torres, in Capturing the Moment, has a gift for drawing the temporary beauty that exists in her otherwise drab life. In Identity Theft, a new Ana Hernández moves into school and upsets the order of the other (original?) Ana. But then Ana moves. Letty Rodríguez is Seeing the Future one day at the park taking care of her grandmother’s dog. Miguel, her boyfriend, likes her. Or does he only like her birthday money? Laurita Malagán, in Citizen of the World, eats Chinese, yodels like the Swiss and lives in California, where one day, during a protest she happens upon,  she confronts the face of intolerance.