Sixth grader Zack Delacruz hopes his new-found confidence is enough to impress Abhijana ("Abhi") Bhatt. Or not. First, he rips the seat of his pants getting up from the lunch table. Then, he knocked her to the ground in dodge ball ... and ran afoul of Abhi's older brother. Those events made it easy for Jose Soto (aka El Pollo Loco), who L-O-V-E-D teasing Zack to take monopolize Abhi's attention. At Janie Bustamonte's suggestion, Zack, his best friend Marquis, and Janie went to a botanica so Zack could buy some luck. Except it ended up in more embarrassment. So much so that Zack reconsidered going to the Fiesta-val at school. Marquis talked him into going and, just when Zack thought his luck had run out, he had a chance to save the day - and Abhi too!
What a fun, wholesome read! It will easily take older readers back to their middle school days in all its "glory" and remind us (like Zack is learning) that everything that happens is part of the journey, and probably isn't as life threatening or life altering as we think. The story, set in San Antonio, TX, seamlessly weaves in Spanish dialogue and elements of Hispanic culture. Young readers are going to want to know more about cascarones!
Although Zack is our narrator, the cast is an ensemble, and we get solid insight into the personalities and feelings of other key players: Janie, José, Marquis, Blythe, Cliché, and Abhi. Don't mistake Jose for the bully. He is more the class clown. Blythe on the other hand is an over-the-top bully. Most of the adult-child relationships seemed authentic. Blythe's on the other hand felt like a bad stereotype from a Disney show.
An engaging, diverse cast and plenty of middle school moments come together in a slice-of-life novel that readers will enjoy. The story is wholesome, fun, realistic, and imbued with cultural traditions that will make kids curious to learn more.
This middle grade series brings readers into the lives of a diverse group of kids.
Even though this is a book meant to be read for fun, the setting and events create opportunities to talk about friendship and courage, as well as emotions such as jealousy.
9 and Up
9 and Up
Borrow. The stories are fun and the characters are relatable. I'm just not sure they'd be re-read or you'd keep them for your grandkids.