Ada and Zubizarreta (Dancing Home, 2011) reunite to focus on a young Latina girl coping with loss.
Sixth-grader Amalia lives in Chicago with her Mexican-American mother and Puerto Rican father. While making melcocha (taffy) one afternoon with Abuelita, Amalia shares that her best friend, Martha, is moving to California. Abuelita calms her with tales of the people she has lost through the years. While these tales temporarily relieve Amalia’s anxiety about Martha’s move, she is still upset. When Martha and her family leave sooner than expected, Amalia becomes angry and is convinced that she has lost her friend forever. She feels the emptiness of life without Martha and reminisces about the great times they had together, but her worries are pushed aside when Abuelita dies unexpectedly. As her family gathers from Mexico and Costa Rica to celebrate Abuelita’s long life, Amalia has a difficult time understanding why everyone else isn’t as sad as she is. After her mother gives her one of Abuelita’s most cherished possessions, she begins to understand the important role she played in her grandmother’s life and finds the courage to contact Martha. The authors tackle issues of love, loss and familial ties with a sympathetic, light hand and blend Spanish words and Latino music and recipes into Amalia’s tale.
A charming story, especially for children facing the loss of grandparents. (recipes) (Fiction. 8-12)