I finished another couple of books from the library by new, to me, authors… Alma Flor Ada and Gabriel M. Zubizarreta. A mother-son writing team. It was the first book they wrote together, but definitely not the last. We have two of their books at our library, and I checked them both out at the same time because I knew it wouldn’t take me long to finish them. The first book I read is called Dancing Home. It’s about a girl named Margarita and her cousin Lupe who comes to live with Margarita from her home in Mexico. Margarita has done everything she can to make herself completely American without any of her Mexican heritage, including refusing to speak Spanish to the point that she’s nearly forgotten the language. Lupe only speaks Spanish, but she quickly starts learning English after moving to America. Margarita eventually comes to terms with her heritage and finds that she loves all aspects of who she is. My favorite quote from Dancing Home was near the end when Margarita had decided to embrace all the aspects of who she is instead of focusing on only what will make her fit in in her mind. She says, “I am American, and I am Mexican. Both are important to me and neither one has to be better than the other.” This sums up how I think she’s come to now see herself through her journey in this book. This book felt so much like I was reading a nonfiction biography. I loved it.
The second book from our library is Love, Amalia. I liked this one better than Dancing Home. Probably because of the fact that Amalia is dealing with her friend moving away as soon as the book starts and then she’s dealing with her grandmother’s death right after that. This summer, we moved from Spain to South Dakota, and my father-in-law passed away while we were in the midst of our move. I find myself thinking of Amalia like one of my kids and I hate how sad she is by all of the changes in her life. She’s going through the same things my children just went through. Her abuelita (grandmother) used to tell her stories about her children and read her letters from them and she would take her time and write them letters back with handmade cards. Amalia starts to feel better and starts to see how she can move on now that her grandmother is gone when her mother gives her the box her grandmother kept all of the letters in. Amalia starts making cards and mailing them to her family as she reads the letters from them to her abuelita. She also writes to her friend who moved away and shares with her what’s been going on in her life. I really liked this book and think it would be a nice change of pace from most of the writing for this age group. This book says it’s for grades 3-5, and I think that’s good. It could be read by younger children, but they need a bit of maturity to be ready for some of the topics that are dealt with in this one. I definitely think that sometimes kids need to be exposed to more 2than just fluff. I’m going to recommend all of my kids read it.