Nothing but a first-place trophy will do for a 10-year-old girl obsessed with living up to her family’s name.
Fifth-grader Allie Velasco is the least notable member of an accomplished Mexican-American family. Her Congressional Medal of Honor–winning Great-Gramps is a hometown hero; her mom is a popular Kansas City news anchor; Harvard-bound big sister Adriana is a national debate champion; brother Aiden is a middle school soccer MVP; and little sister Ava is a model and actress. The only thing Allie wants is to win something of her own before graduating from Sendak Elementary School. After losing the science fair on a technicality, disciplined Allie sets her sights on a local arts competition, and she has the perfect subject: her universally adored bisabuelo. Unfortunately, her ex–best-friend Sara Lopez has the exact same idea. Most of Cervantes’ characters are Latino, but all readers should relate to Allie’s insecurities, ambitions, sibling issues, and friendship dramas. The author beautifully depicts the loving intergenerational bond between Bisabuelo and his young great-grandkids and carefully explores the subtle and overt differences between third-generation American Allie and her new friend, Victor Garcia, who hopes to be the first person in his family to graduate from high school and college.
A sweet middle-grade read that promotes compassion and empathy over competitiveness. (Fiction. 8-12)