A bilingual girl named Lety volunteers at an animal shelter where she gets drawn into a competition with a boy she finds unkind.
Lety signs up to be the animal shelter’s scribe, writing biographies for cats and dogs that are up for adoption. It’s a tough job—she is an immigrant from Tlaquepaque, Mexico, and she and her best friend are still taking special classes to improve their English. Drawing attention to bilingual learning, the slipperiness of colloquialisms, and the power of dictionaries, Cervantes deftly engages young readers in Lety’s predicament through the device of a crabby white boy named Hunter, who challenges her for her position. As the two of them enter into a competition for the job, Lety worries about breaking the rules, encountering prejudice, becoming competent in English, and convincing the shelter’s veterinarian that she is the right girl to take home a very special dog. Just as all seems lost, Lety proves her intelligence and willingness to serve by suggesting a solution that benefits immigrants in her community as well as animals in the shelter. At its heart, this is a sweet, entertaining story about a kindhearted girl who has compassion for both animals and people. Young readers will be drawn in by the sweet pet portraits yet they will leave with much more: an empathetic understanding of the immigrant experience in America.
A touching story about the power of language, pets, and friendship. (Fiction. 8-12)