Alvarez’s series of Tía Lola Stories ends with a mystery sure to please fans and attract new readers.
The new school year is underway, as the action picks up shortly after the end of How Tía Lola Saved the Summer (2011). Victor Espada and his daughters, Victoria, Essie and Cari, have now moved to Vermont, where they share a large house with the crotchety but lovable Colonel Charlebois. Linda, Miguel and Juanita Guzman are still living out in the country with Tía Lola, but all five children get together with Tía Lola to find a way to help the unemployed Victor. Soon, the group has convinced the others that the solution is turning the Colonel’s house into a weekend bed and breakfast. Unfortunately, someone in town isn’t thrilled with their plan, and strange things start happening around the house. Sleuthing, party planning and other shenanigans ensue. Once again, the author manages to weave Spanish words and phrases throughout the text in such a way that a glossary is not required. Believable details about the individual children’s lives bring further depth to the plot, while themes of xenophobia, blended families and acceptance make the novel relevant to Latino, immigrant and general audiences. The book’s touching final chapter references the first three books in the series as well as the magic of libraries and reading.
A fitting farewell to a memorable character. (Fiction. 8-12)