In her first fantasy, Pura Belpré winner McCall (Under the Mesquite, 2011)tells the story of five sisters and their myriad adventures as they travel from their home in Texas to Mexico.
When narrator and eldest Odilia and her sisters, Juanita, Velia, Delia and Pita, find a dead man in their swimming hole, Odilia wants to call the authorities. She is soon overruled by her sisters, who clamor to return the man to his family and visit their grandmother, all of whom live in Mexico. What follows is a series of adventures that hover somewhere on the border between fantasy and magical realism as the sisters are helped and hindered by supernatural forces including Latin American legends La Llorona, lechuzas and chupacabras. Despite multiple decisions that lead them into danger, the younger sisters persist in dismissing Odilia’s warnings, their bad choices ranging from silly to decidedly immature. When they reach their grandmother’s house, the dialogue-heavy story continues with extensive reflection of a level of maturity incongruous with the behavior exhibited in prior pages. The sisters then return home to face real-world problems that may prove most challenging of all.
While this story is sometimes bogged down by moralizing and adventures that don't always seem to support the plot, originality and vibrancy shine through to make it a worthwhile read despite its flaws. (Fantasy. 9-14)