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From the Hispanic Star series

A story of passion and perseverance that will inspire the star’s fans and newcomers alike.

She was just a Texas girl with a Technicolor dream.

The latest in this series that focuses on prominent Latine individuals follows actor and pop star Selena Gomez, whose father, Ricardo Joel Gomez, is of Mexican descent and whose mother, Mandy Teefey, is of Italian heritage. Gomez was born in Grand Prairie, Texas, when her parents were 16; her mother worked multiple jobs after divorcing her father when Gomez was 5. Gomez knew at a young age that she wanted to pursue acting and landed a role on Barney & Friends, which opened the door to Disney and her big break on Wizards of Waverly Place. The show’s tremendous success made Gomez a star. She spread her wings, forming a pop rock band. However, the intensity of working in Hollywood took a toll. After struggles with lupus, a kidney transplant, depression, and anxiety, she took a hiatus from social media and later opened up about her problems to the public. Sidebars throughout offer context on everything from various kinds of film and TV roles to dialysis to the DREAM Act (Gomez produced a Netflix series on undocumented families). The tone is conversational and intimate and will likely entice even readers unfamiliar with Gomez’s work. The discussions of Gomez’s physical and mental illness are refreshingly frank and empathetic. Notes from Valenti and Hispanic Star (a nonprofit organization that collaborated with the publisher for this series) close out the book.

A story of passion and perseverance that will inspire the star’s fans and newcomers alike. (online sources, additional facts) (Biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 18, 2023

ISBN: 9781250828316

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023

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An apt choice for collections that already have stronger alternatives, such as R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012).

A memoir of the first 14 years in the life of Australian Robert Hoge, born with stunted legs and a tumor in the middle of his face.

In 1972, Robert is born, the youngest of five children, with fishlike eyes on the sides of his face, a massive lump in place of his nose, and malformed legs. As baby Robert is otherwise healthy, the doctors convince his parents to approve the first of many surgeries to reduce his facial difference. One leg is also amputated, and Robert comes home to his everyday white, working-class family. There's no particular theme to the tale of Robert's next decade and a half: he experiences school and teasing, attempts to participate in sports, and is shot down by a girl. Vignette-driven choppiness and the lack of an overarching narrative would make the likeliest audience be those who seek disability stories. However, young Robert's ongoing quest to identify as "normal"—a quest that remains unchanged until a sudden turnaround on the penultimate page—risks alienating readers comfortable with their disabilities. Brief lyrical moments ("as compulsory as soggy tomato sandwiches at snack time") appeal but are overwhelmed by the dry, distant prose dominating this autobiography.

An apt choice for collections that already have stronger alternatives, such as R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012). (Memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-425-28775-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Though a bit loose around the edges, a charmer nevertheless.

Tales of a fourth grade ne’er-do-well.

It seems that young Jordan is stuck in a never-ending string of bad luck. Sure, no one’s perfect (except maybe goody-two-shoes William Feranek), but Jordan can’t seem to keep his attention focused on the task at hand. Try as he may, things always go a bit sideways, much to his educators’ chagrin. But Jordan promises himself that fourth grade will be different. As the year unfolds, it does prove to be different, but in a way Jordan couldn’t possibly have predicted. This humorous memoir perfectly captures the square-peg-in-a-round-hole feeling many kids feel and effectively heightens that feeling with comic situations and a splendid villain. Jordan’s teacher, Mrs. Fisher, makes an excellent foil, and the book’s 1970s setting allows for her cruelty to go beyond anything most contemporary readers could expect. Unfortunately, the story begins to run out of steam once Mrs. Fisher exits. Recollections spiral, losing their focus and leading to a more “then this happened” and less cause-and-effect structure. The anecdotes are all amusing and Jordan is an endearing protagonist, but the book comes dangerously close to wearing out its welcome with sheer repetitiveness. Thankfully, it ends on a high note, one pleasant and hopeful enough that readers will overlook some of the shabbier qualities. Jordan is White and Jewish while there is some diversity among his classmates; Mrs. Fisher is White.

Though a bit loose around the edges, a charmer nevertheless. (Memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-64723-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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