Each Tiny Spark (Penguin Books, 2019)
From award-winning author Pablo Cartaya comes a deeply moving middle grade novel about a daughter and father finding their way back to each other in the face of their changing family and community.
Emilia Torres has a wandering mind. It’s hard for her to follow along at school, and sometimes she forgets to do what her mom or abuela asks. But she remembers what matters: a time when her family was whole and home made sense. Emilia expects that her life will get back to normal when Dad returns from deployment. Instead, it unravels.
Dad shuts himself in the garage to work on an old car. Emilia peeks in on him daily, mesmerized by the sparks flying from his welder. One day, Dad calls Emilia over to take a closer look. Then, he teaches her how to weld. And over time, flickers of her old dad reappear.
But as Emilia finds a way to repair the relationship with her father at home, her community ruptures with some of her classmates, like her best friend, Gus, at the center of the conflict.
Each Tiny Spark is a tender story about asking big questions and being brave enough to reckon with the answers.
Marcus Vega Doesn't Speak Spanish (Viking Children’s Books, Spring 2018)
Marcus Vega is six feet tall, 180 pounds, and the owner of a premature mustache. When you look like this and you're only in the eighth grade, you're both a threat and a target. Marcus knows what classmates and teachers see when they look at him: a monster.
But appearances are deceiving. At home, Marcus is a devoted brother. And he finds ways to earn cash to contribute to his family’s rainy day fund. His mom works long hours and his dad walked out ten years ago—someone has to pick up the slack.
After a fight at school leaves him facing suspension, Marcus and his family decide to hit the reset button and regroup for a week in Puerto Rico. Marcus is more interested in finding his father, though, who is somewhere on the island. Through a series of misadventures that take Marcus all over Puerto Rico in search of the elusive Mr. Vega, Marcus meets a colorful cast of characters who show him the many faces of fatherhood. And he even learns a bit of Spanish along the way.
Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish is a novel about discovering home and identity in uncharted landscapes.
“Sensational.” —Matt de la Peña, New York Times bestselling and Newbery Medal–winning author of The Last Stop on Market Street
Save the restaurant. Save the town. Get the girl. Make Abuela proud. Can thirteen-year-old Arturo Zamora do it all or is he in for a BIG, EPIC FAIL?
For Arturo, summertime in Miami means playing basketball until dark, sipping mango smoothies, and keeping cool under banyan trees. And maybe a few shifts as junior lunchtime dishwasher at Abuela’s restaurant. Maybe. But this summer also includes Carmen, a cute girl who moves into Arturo’s apartment complex and turns his stomach into a deep fryer. He almost doesn’t notice the smarmy land developer who rolls into town and threatens to change it. Arturo refuses to let his family and community go down without a fight, and as he schemes with Carmen, Arturo discovers the power of poetry and protest through untold family stories and the work of José Martí.
Funny and poignant, The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora is the vibrant story of a family, a striking portrait of a town, and one boy’s quest to save both, perfect for fans of Rita Williams-Garcia.
Tina Cocolina: Queen of the Cupcakes (Random House Children’s Books, 2010)
Fans of Fancy Nancy and Pinkalicious will adore Tina Cocolina, a sweet little cupcake of a girl with a sense of adventure and a flair for fashion who’s on the hunt for her perfect topping. This mouthwatering picture book includes cupcake and frosting recipes from an award-winning pastry chef, maestro Martin Howard.