Jaime doesn't want to leave his home in the Dominican Republic when his father gets a good job in New York City. Arriving there in the winter is unlike anything he has known: He speaks no English, he can't enter school until his records arrive, and he is lonely, angry, and homesick. Until Jaime begins to make friends, his only solace is a conch shell given to him by his uncle that helps him relive memories of home. Many of these scenes are captured in Gutierrez's realistic black-and-white illustrations. Given its dramatic theme (stranger in a strange land, caught between cultures) and its patina of magic, this competently told story is surprisingly bland. Mohr (Nicholasa Mohr: Growing Up Inside the Sanctuary of My Imagination, 1994, etc.) tacks on a moral about inner strength that is gratuitous, since Jaime has not exhibited any such strength: When he has no friends, everything is terrible, and as soon as he meets other kids, all is well.