Haydu introduces two young cousins in a new chapter-book series for young readers.
Del (short for Delfina) and Alma are cousins, best friends, and, as of moments ago, neighbors on 23rd Avenue. Alma and her family have moved away from their old lakeside home to the brick walk-up apartment building where Alma’s father’s side of the family lives in the city. On the ground level is the Curious Cousins Secondhand Shoppe, and on the second, third, and fourth floors are Abuelita, Titi, cousins, and more of their Puerto Rican family. When Abuelita takes the girls to a stoop sale, Del finds dangling clip-on earrings and is promptly convinced that they are magical. After a couple flawless, magical days (readers might call them just lucky), Alma is fed up with Del’s earrings and crushingly denies their magic. Convinced the earrings are causing them to fight, Alma decides to steal them and puts them out on the stoop for a passerby to take. Readers learn along the way that Alma feels “left out of” her own family, having lived apart from the rest of them for most of her life. They may well wonder why Alma’s family has moved, but the story focuses on the conflict between the cousins. Told in alternating third-person with minimal Spanish interspersed, the actual plot lacks luster, and the focus on mundane details slows the book’s pacing. Perhaps, with the scene now set, the series’ next volume will pick up. Uribe’s grayscale depictions are essential companions, depicting Del with dark skin and Alma as pale.
Everyday magic fails to create a spark in this book. (Fiction. 6-9)