Wednesday, September 12, 2012

REFORMA Review: Journey of Dreams

Journey of Dreams. 
By Marge Pellegrino. 
London: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2009. 250 pp. $15.95 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-1-84780-061-9. 
Grades 6-9. 
English with Spanish and Quiché.

Tomasa watches in horror as her peaceful village in the Highlands of Guatemala is leveled by guerrilla soldiers who burn her home; massacre her Abuela, neighbors, and friends; and steal her hope for survival. Set in the mid 1980s, the gripping narrative follows the thirteen-year-old Tomasa and her family as they set out on an arduous journey through Guatemala, Mexico, and eventually to the United States where they attempt to seek political refuge. Imbued with elements of magical realism and oral tradition, this thriller is sure to spark discussion and provide teens with a new perspective on the reasons families immigrate into the “land of the free.”


Naidoo, J. C. (2010). Journey of Dreams. Written by Marge Pellegrino. REFORMA Newsletter, 28(1/2), 22.

REFORMA Review: Grandma's Pear Tree

Grandma’s Pear Tree/El peral de abuela. 
By Suzanne Santillan. Illus. by Atilio Pernisco. Trans. by Cambridge BrickHouse
McHenry, IL: Raven Tree Press, 2010. 32 pp. $16.95 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-1-934960-80-6. 
Grades K-2. 
English with some Spanish.

 After getting his ball stuck in his Abuela’s pear tree, a young boy asks various family members for help. Each of them give him advice on how to get the ball out of the tree but their suggestions only make matters worse. The simple vocabulary of the text is appropriate for the intended audience; however, the character dialog seems unnatural with Spanish words being repeated after their English equivalent and at times there are gaps in the text that will not be easy for early readers to follow. In addition, Spanish words are highlighted in a different color than the surrounding English text. In some instances, the chosen color makes the Spanish text hard to read against the background of the page. While the cartoon illustrations carry a certain charm about them, they are not consistent with the story, going from day to night and back to day with no logical explanation.

Not Recommended.

Naidoo, J. C. (2010). Grandma’s Pear Tree/El peral de abuela. Written by Suzanne Santillan. Illus. by Atilio Pernisco. Trans. by Cambridge BrickHouse. REFORMA Newsletter, 28(1/2), 21.

REFORMA Review: The Firefly Letters

The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette’s Journey to Cuba.
By Margarita Engle. 
New York: Henry Holt and Company 2010. 151 pp. $16.99 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-0805090826. 
Grades 5 and up. 
English with some Spanish.

Based upon the writings of Swedish suffragette Fredrika Bremer, Engle’s latest novel in verse provides readers with a glimpse into the daily lives and struggles of both free and enslaved females living in Cuba in 1851.  Told in alternating voices, as in her other historical books on Cuba, the stirring narratives skillfully demonstrate the ties that bind humans: both figuratively and physically. The main characters of Cecilia, Elena, and Frederika are complex enough to propel the story but simple enough to keep reluctant tweens and teens engaged. Includes historical and author notes, as well as references to materials by and about Fredrika Bremer.

Recommended for school and public libraries.

Naidoo, J. C. (2010). The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette’s Journey to Cuba. Written by Margarita Engle. REFORMA Newsletter, 28(1/2), 21.

REFORMA Review: Mother Goose on the Loose

Early Literacy Programming En Español: Mother Goose on the Loose® Programs for Bilingual Learners. 
By Betsy Diamant-Cohen. 
New York: Neal-Schuman, 2010. 177 pp. $65 (Paperback with CD-ROM). ISBN 978-1555706913. 
Professional Book for Librarians. 
English with Spanish.

In this thoughtful and highly useful resource, Diamant-Cohen takes elements of her energetic Mother Goose on the Loose® literacy program and incorporates them with early childhood literacy strategies used with Spanish-speaking, bilingual children and their families. Information and theory related to bilingual language development as well as tips for partnering with the Latino community are also provided by prominent Latina early literacy specialists. Of particular importance is a discussion on the appropriate use of Spanish in relation to the Latino population served, in addition to social considerations for selecting rhymes in English and culturally-relevant rhymes in Spanish. Step-by-step guidelines, bilingual songs and rhymes, planning templates, flannelboard patterns, and much more are included on a CD that will be quite useful to aspiring librarians developing bilingual and Spanish programs for young children. One shortcoming of the guide is minimal reference to Día and Día resources which should be obvious sources for planning an early literacy program serving Latino children and their families. Additionally, while some Spanish-language rhymes and Latino children’s books are referenced, more common titles are overlooked to make space for Spanish translations of English books and rhymes. The author stresses the importance of incorporating both types of literature into programs for bilingual learners but does not provide links or references to many of the rich sources available for selecting high-quality, culturally relevant Latino children’s literature. Nonetheless, this is a worthy source of ideas for any librarian serving Spanish-speaking populations.


Naidoo, J. C. (2010). Early Literacy Programming En Español: Mother Goose on the Loose® Programs for Bilingual Learners. Written by Betsy Diamant-Cohen. REFORMA Newsletter, 28(1/2), 20. (Professional Book)

REFORMA Review: Chavela and the Magic Bubble

Chavela and the Magic Bubble. 
By Monica Brown. Illus. by Magaly Morales. 
New York: Clarion Books, 2010. Unpaged. $16.00 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-547-241-24197-5.
Grades PreK-3.  
English with Spanish.
Little Chavela loves chewing gum and blowing it into bubbles of all shapes and sizes. She especially enjoys sharing a piece of her chicle with her Abuelita and listening to stories about her grandmother’s childhood in Mexico. One morning the young girl finds a package of Magic Chicle which she chews and blows into a magnificent pink bubble that transports her back in time to the Mexican village where her great grandfather was a chiclero harvesting the sap of the sapodilla tree to make gum. While in this rainforest, Chavela experiences its supernatural beauty and meets a mysterious girl with a doll in a blue dress. Imbued with magical realism, this mouth-watering, snappy tale will dazzle readers as its text changes shape along with Chavela’s many bubbles. At the same time, Morales’ blazing, color-suffused illustrations will have young children pouring over the book for hours in search of their own magical stick of chicle. An adaptation of the Latin American folk song “Tengo una muñeca” is also included along with an author’s note chicleros.

Highly Recommended.

Naidoo, J. C. (2010). Chavela and the Magic Bubble. Written by Monica Brown. Illus. by Magaly Morales. REFORMA Newsletter, 28(1/2), 19.

REFORMA Review: Border Crossing

Border Crossing. 
By Jessica Lee Anderson. 
Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions, 2009. 174 pp. $17.00 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-1-57131-689-9.
Grades 7 and up. 
English with some Spanish.
Fifteen-year-old Manz is content to spend his summer working on a cattle ranch with this best friend Jed. Although the work is hot, the job is a great escape from his mother’s depression, which seeps into every corner of their house. Unfortunately, it isn’t long before the biracial teen begins to hear voices telling him to beware La Migra who want to ship him back to Mexico as part of Operation Wetback. These voices, which Manz deems as The Messenger, convince him that he can trust no one as they are all working for the Operation. Anderson provides readers with a glimpse into the downward spiral that engulfs the teen as he drowns in voices that only he can hear. With very few books representing mental illness, particularly paranoid schizophrenia, in the Latino community, this is an important addition to the young adult collection of most libraries.


Naidoo, J. C. (2010). Border Crossing. Written by Jessica Lee Anderson. REFORMA Newsletter, 28(1/2), 19.

REFORMA Review: What Can You Do with a Peleta?

What Can You Do with a Paleta?/¿Qué puedes hacer con una paleta?. 
By Carmen Tafolla. Illus. by Magaly Morales. 
Berkeley, CA: Tricycle Press, 2009. Unpaged. $14.99 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-1-58246-289-9. 
Grades PreK-2. 

Lyrical language and vivid illustrations abound in this beautiful follow-up to Tafolla’s What Can You Do with a Rebozo?. Perfect for young children, the bouncy text follows a young Mexican child as she describes the many things that you can do with una paleta (a traditional Mexican popsicle) from painting ice mustaches to making friends. Magaly Morales’ (sister to Yuyi Morales) bold acrylic illustrations sparkle with life and exude the warmth of a Mexican barrio. This charming title will make summer storytimes sizzle and leave the mouths of young readers watering for more!


Naidoo, J. C. (2009). What Can You Do with a Paleta?/¿Qué puedes hacer con una paleta?. Written by Carmen Tafolla. Illus. by Magaly Morales. REFORMA Newsletter, 27 (1/2), 27.

REFORMA Review: The Secret Legacy

The Secret Legacy. 
By Rigoberta Menchú with Dante Liano, Illus. by Domi. Trans. by David Unger. 
Groundwood Books, 2008. 64 pages. $19.95 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-88899-896-5.  
Grades 3-6. 

In this third book from the team that introduced young readers to the lives and folklore of Maya Guatemalans in The Girl from Chimel and The Honey Jar, readers meet seven-year-old Ixkem who has been selected by her grandfather to continue the tradition of guarding the sacred cornfields from animal predators. On the first day of her new job, the girl is spirited underground by a group of tiny magical nahuales or animal spirits that encourage Ixkem to tell them stories of human customs in exchange for a special secret meant for her grandfather.  As she weaves each tale, the girl introduces Mayan folktales to both the reader and the animal spirits, and is eventually returned to her family where she shares the special secret the nahuales have sent. Menchú’s unique folktale collection, perfectly complemented by Domi’s naïve illustrations, will intrigue older elementary children and encourage them to learn more about Mayan customs and folklore.


Naidoo, J. C. (2009). The Secret Legacy. Written by Rigoberta Menchú with Dante Liano. Illus. by Domi. Trans. by David Unger. REFORMA Newsletter, 27 (1/2), 26

REFORMA Review: Rogelia's House of Magic

Rogelia’s House of Magic. 
By Jamie Martinez Wood.
Delacorte Press/Random House, 2008. 300 pages. $15.99 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-385-73477-6.
Grades 6-9. 
English with some Spanish.

Marina and Fern are two friends who couldn’t be more different. While the first can not speak Spanish and fails to embrace her heritage, the latter celebrates her Mexican heritage with gusto and pushes her friend to follow step. The two teenage Latinas’ lives are turned upside down when Marina’s new housekeeper Rogelia moves in with her granddaughter Xochitl. Rogelia is a cuandera who agrees to teach the girls magic while showing them how to be healers. Xochitl is an apprentice curandera but has lost faith in her abuela’s power since her grandmother failed to save her twin sister after a fatal accident. However, it is Xochitl that has to eventually band with Marina and Fern to use their magic and save Rogelia’s life. Filled with crushes, teenage drama, and magic, this quick read will introduce many teens to certain aspects of Mexican culture such as curanderas. Although the novel is clichéd at times, it does an adequate job depicting the power of teenage female friendships in much the same way as works such as Brashares’ The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Recommended as a secondary purchase. 

Naidoo, J. C. (2009). Rogelia’s House of Magic. Written by Jamie Martinez Wood. REFORMA Newsletter, 27 (1/2), 25.

REFORMA Review: Pepita on Pepper Street

Pepita on Pepper Street/Pepita en la calle Pepper
By Ofelia Dumas Lachtman illustrated by Alex Pardo DeLange
Piñata Books, 2008. Unpaged. $15.95 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-1-55885-443-7. 
Grades K-3. 

In this latest book in the Pepita series, our young protagonist finds her new neighborhood extremely dissatisfying. A few of her neighbors attempt to be friendly to the girl but she rudely dismisses each of them. Her parents encourage her to embrace her new surroundings and seek friendships. Pepita refuses and has “huffy” altercations with her neighbors. Eventually she meets a girl her age and, in a trite ending, becomes her friend. The overall negative and didactic tone of the book is somewhat balanced by bright, cartoon illustrations. However, children seeking a book to help them transition after a new move will be better served elsewhere.

Not recommended.

Naidoo, J. C. (2009). Pepita on Pepper Street/Pepita en la calle Pepper. Written by Ofelia Dumas Lachtman. Illus. by Alex Pardo DeLange. REFORMA Newsletter, 27 (1/2), 24.

REFORMA Review: Mexican Whiteboy

Mexican Whiteboy
By Matt de la Peña
Delacorte Press/Random House, 2008. 247 pages. $15.99 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-385-73310-6.
Grades 6-9. 

Life for biracial teen Danny Lopez is confusing. His blonde hair, blue-eyes, light skin, and inability to speak Spanish make him fell outcast in his father’s Mexican family. His dark skin brands him an outcast in his predominantly white, private high school. In addition to these feelings of isolation and identify confusion, Danny is dealing with the absence of his father who left when Danny was a young boy – an absence that Danny seeks to fill by playing the all-American sport that his dad taught him. During a summer visit with his paternal cousins in San Diego, the teen eventually develops his self-confidence and understands the truth behind his father’s disappearance. Although the plot features a sport that will attract many reluctant readers, the slow pacing through out two-thirds of the novel and the rushed inclusion of a random hate crime and suicide attempt within the last few chapters may be off-putting for the intended audience.  With other excellent books available on similar topics (Benjamin Sáenz’s He Forgot to Say Goodbye and Oscar Hijuelos’ Dark Dude), this pitch is not likely to hit a smashing homerun with teens.

Recommended only as a secondary purchase.

Naidoo, J. C. (2009). Mexican Whiteboy. Written by Matt de la Peña.  REFORMA Newsletter, 27 (1/2), 24.

REFORMA Review: The Best Gift of All

El mejor regalo del mundo: La leyenda de la Vieja Belén/The Best Gift of All: The Legend of La Vieja Belén
By Julia Alvarez, illustrated by Ruddy Núñez, Translated by Rhina Espaillat
Santillana USA, 2009. 32 pages. $14.99 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-1-60396-325-1
Grades 1-3

Alvarez skillfully weaves a memorable tale of the little known legend of La Vieja Belén, an elderly woman who brings gifts to poor children in the Dominican Republic after the visits of Santa Claus at Christmas and the tres reyes on Epiphany. A lengthy author’s note expounds on the tradition of La Vieja Belén comparing it to the Italian legend La Befana. While the rhythmic English text is engaging, it is the Spanish text that truly sparkles in a beautifully cadenced style. This is a unique addition to holiday collections, particularly for those libraries serving children from the Dominican Republic.


Naidoo, J. C. (2009). El mejor regalo del mundo: La leyenda de la Vieja Belén/The Best Gift of All: The Legend of La Vieja Belén. Written by Julia Alvarez. Illus. by Ruddy Núñez. Trans. by Rhina Espaillat. REFORMA Newsletter, 27 (1/2), 23.

REFORMA Review: Kitchen Dance

Kitchen Dance
By Maurie J. Manning
New York: Clarion Books, 2008. Unpaged. $16.00 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-618-99110-5
Grades PreK-2
English with some Spanish

“¡Oye! Do you hear?” Scrape! Splash! Clunk! Clang! Those are the sounds of the Kitchen Dance that two young children overhear as they are trying to sleep. When they tiptoe down the stairs to investigate, they find their Mamá and Papá dancing the tango as they are cleaning dishes and putting away leftovers. Soon everyone joins the fun, singing “¡Cómo te quiero!” and twirling around in a “circle of family.” This light-hearted story, filled with bright watercolor images featuring an exuberant Latino family, celebrates the bonds of familia and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser during storytime.


Naidoo, J. C. (2009). Kitchen Dance. Written and Illus. by Maurie J. Manning. REFORMA Newsletter, 27 (1/2), 23.

REFORMA Review: Gringolandia

By Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Curbstone Press, 2009. 290 pages. $16.95 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-1-931896-49-8. 
Grades 9 and up
English with some Spanish

Ever since the night his father was captured by Chilean soldiers, seventeen-year-old Daniel Aguilar’s life has been painful. Although five years since the incident, he still believes he is responsible for his father’s arrest and subsequent imprisonment and torture. Daniel, his mother, and his younger sister Tina have sought asylum in the United States, all the while fighting for the release of his father. Eventually Mr. Aguilar is released from prison and sent to the U.S. (Gringolandia as he calls it). Unfortunately, his years of abuse have left him broken, inside and out. It is up to Dan and his gringa girlfriend to help Mr. Aguilar overcome depression, alcohol abuse, and suicidal thoughts in order to return to Chile and continue as an activist to free other political hostages and prisoners. Told with raw honesty, Miller-Lachmann’s gritty novel grabs readers from the first word and holds them hostage until the very last. This poignant novel and essential purchase for library collections introduces young adults to a horrific period in history, finally giving a voice to those long silenced.

Highly Recommended.

Naidoo, J. C. (2009). Gringolandia. Written by Lyn Miller-Lachmann. REFORMA Newsletter, 27 (1/2), 22.

REFORMA Review: The Disappeared

The Disappeared
By Gloria Whelan
Dial/Penguin, 2008. 137 pages. $16.99 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-8037-3275-9. 
Grades 6 and up
English with some Spanish

Told in alternating chapters from the perspectives of Silvia and her older brother Eduardo, this slight novel attempts to describe the terror and secrecy surrounding los Desaparecidos (The Disappeared) during Argentina’s Dirty War. Each chapter is intended to serve as a mental letter from one teenage sibling to the other, detailing their surging emotions from the time just prior to Eduardo’s capture by the government for his anarchistic views up to the teens’ final escape into Spain.  Notwithstanding the inclusion of a helpful epilogue with information on this tumultuous period in Argentina’s history, the novel’s underdeveloped characters and trite conclusion will leave readers with more questions than answers.

Not Recommended

Naidoo, J. C. (2009). The Disappeared. Written by Gloria Whelan. REFORMA Newsletter, 27 (1/2), 21.

REFORMA Review: What Can You Do with a Reboza?

What Can You Do with a Rebozo? 
By Carmen Tafolla illustrated by Amy Còrdova
Tricycle Press, 2008. Unpaged. $14.95 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-1-58246-220-2. 
Grades PreK-2
English with some Spanish

What can you do with a Rebozo?! Through simple text and vibrant acrylic illustrations, readers follow a young Latina as she introduces them to the many, varied creative uses for a rebozo ranging from a bandage for a puppy to a super hero cape to a beautiful hair ornament. A brief author’s note on the history of rebozos along with discussion questions will be helpful to teachers and librarians as they encourage readers to use their own imagination to discover what they can do with a rebozo.

Recommended for young children

Naidoo, J. C. (2008). What Can You Do with a Rebozo? Written by Carmen Tafolla. Illus. by Amy Còrdova. REFORMA Newsletter, 26 (1/2), 27.

REFORMA Review: The Temptress Four

The Temptress Four 
By Gaby Triana 
HarperCollins, 2008. 247 pages. $16.99 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-06-0887-0. 
Grades 7-12

“Eight days of strife and storms . . . . Bonds will be broken.  . . . ‘One of you’ . . . ‘will not come home.’” These aren’t exactly the words best friends Fiona, Killian, Alma, and Yoli want to hear the evening before they embark on a Caribbean cruise to celebrate their high school graduation. However, the fearless foursome are determined not to let a fraudulent fortuneteller ruin their vacation. Filled with typical female teen drama of boys, fashion, flirting, and secrets, this fast-paced read speaks to teens who question life beyond high school, but really skimps on details related to Latino culture. Recommended as a light beach read, but those readers seeking deeper cultural details, as well as teen angst, are better served by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s Haters (2006).

Naidoo, J. C. (2008). The Temptress Four. Written by Gaby Triana. REFORMA Newsletter, 26 (1/2), 27.

REFORMA Review: The Surrender Tree

The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom
By Margarita Engle 
Henry Holt, 2008. 169 pages. $16.95 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-8050-8674-4. 
Grades 6-12 
English with some Spanish

Returning to the topic of Cuban slavery as in her award-winning The Poet Slave of Cuba, Engle’s highly accessible, fictionalized verse follows the life of Rosa la Bayamesa, an herbal healer and military nurse, during her efforts to help slaves and soldiers involved in Cuba’s wars and struggles for independence from 1850-1899.  Readers are introduced to not only Rosa but also her husband, a young slave girl, and the opposing forces trying to suppress Cuban slaves. The author’s and historical notes, chronology, and selected references are welcomed additions that ground the poems within their historical context.

Highly Recommended.

Naidoo, J. C. (2008). The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom. Written by Margarita Engle. REFORMA Newsletter, 26 (1/2), 27.

REFORMA Review: Count on Culebra

Count on Culebra: Go from 1 to 10 in Spanish
By Ann Whitford Paul, illustrated by Ethan Long
Holiday House, 2008. Unpaged. $16.95 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-8234-2124-4. 
Grades 1-3 
English with some Spanish

Not your traditional counting book, this convoluted story follows Culebra’s attempts to rid Iguana of the pain from her stubbed toe. Young readers are introduced to the Spanish words for 1-10 via a collection of cooking utensils tied to Iguana’s tail. While the bright gouache illustrations are busy on some spreads, children cannot resist counting the menagerie of cooking tools. A pronunciation guide and glossary are provided along with a recipe for Cactus Butter Dulces. This is a secondary purchase for libraries with noted reservations in the ability to teach Spanish numeric words and overall design.

Naidoo, J. C. (2008). Count on Culebra: Go from 1 to 10 in Spanish. Written by Ann Whitford Paul. Illus. by Ethan Long. REFORMA Newsletter, 26 (1/2), 23.


No English
By Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Amy Huntington
Mitten Press, 2007. Unpaged. $17.95 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-1-58726-474-0.
Grades 1-4
English with some Spanish

An increasing number of Spanish-speaking and immigrant children are enrolled in preschool and elementary schools around the country. Many of these children feel alienated from their English-speaking classmates because of language barriers. This sensitive book describes the confusing experiences of Blanca, a second-grade Argentinean girl, as she navigates her new English-only classroom. Through the kindness of one of her classmates, Blanca eventually feels welcomed in her school. Although the book is a little contrived, educators will find it a useful discussion starter in schools with English language learners. An accompanying website also provides classroom activities.


Naidoo, J. C. (2008). No English. Written by Jacqueline Jules. Illus. by Amy Huntington. REFORMA Newsletter, 26 (1/2), 26.

REFORMA Review: Bebé Goes to the Beach

Bebé Goes to the Beach 
By Susan Middleton Elya, illustrated by Steven Salerno 
Harcourt, 2008. Unpaged. $16.00 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-15-206000-8. 
Grades PreK-1 
English with embedded Spanish.

In this rollicking sequel to Bebé Goes Shopping, mamá attempts to keep her bebé entertained all the while trying to soak up the sun. Keeping with the style of the Shopping book, bouncy English text is sprinkled with Spanish phrases that, for the most part, can be understood via contextual clues. Salerno’s animated illustrations exude a vintage flair that will remind young children of their favorite cartoon. A hot choice for summer preschool storytimes! 


Naidoo, J. C. (2008). Bebé Goes to the Beach. Written by Susan Middleton Elya. Illus. by Steven Salerno. REFORMA Newsletter, 26 (1/2), 23.


REFORMA REVIEW: Quinito, Day and Night

Quinito, Day and Night/Quinito, día y noche
By Ina Cumpiano, illustrated by José Ramírez
Children’s Book Press, 2008. 24 pages. $16.95 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-89239-226-1. 
Grades PreK-3

In this welcome sequel to Quinito’s Neighborhood/El vecindario de Quinito, readers are introduced to a plethora of opposites in English and Spanish through the daily interactions between Quinito, a well-adjusted Latino boy, and his familia. The simplistic text, accompanied by vibrant illustrations reminiscent of John Steptoe’s early work, makes for a wonderful addition to the early childhood collections and story hour programs of all public libraries.

Highly Recommended.

Naidoo, J. C. (2008). Quinito, Day and Night/Quinito, día y noche. Written by Ina Cumpiano. Illus. by José Ramírez. REFORMA Newsletter, 26 (1/2), 26.

REFORMA Review: Down to the Bone

Down to the Bone 
By Mayra Lazara Dole
Harper Collins, 2008. 376 pages. $17.89 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-06-084311-3. 
Grades 7+ 
English with some Spanish

“Happy Anniversary! I never thought I could love someone sooooo much. Remember our first kiss?” The worst day of Laura’s life begins when she gets caught reading these sentiments from the love letter she received the day before.  Her Catholic School Nun catches the Cuban teen pouring over the letter and proceeds to read it to the entire class. Unfortunately, the letter is from Laura’s flyy girlfriend! Told through a striking voice which mirrors the life of many LGBTQ Latin@s, Dole’s emotionally-charged first novel follows Laura as she explores what it really means to be a tortillera (Cuban slang for a lesbian).  With so few good books on the topic, this is a welcome addition to libraries serving the needs of today’s teens.


Naidoo, J. C. (2008). Down to the Bone. Written by Mayra Lazara Dole. REFORMA Newsletter., 26 (3/4),18.