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FLORA LA FRESCA & THE ART OF FRIENDSHIP by Veronica Chambers Kirkus Star


by Veronica Chambers ; illustrated by Sujean Rim

Pub Date: July 18th, 2023
ISBN: 9780525556299
Publisher: Dial Books

Ten-year-old Flora struggles after her best friend moves away.

Flora LeFevre would rate her best friend, Clara Londra, full marks on the BFF-ometer the girls programmed in Scratch. Clara makes Saturday Spanish school bearable, and she’s down for any adventure. They both have parents from far away—Flora’s are from Panama, and Clara’s are from Argentina. So, when Clara’s mother announces that they are leaving Rhode Island to move to California, Flora feels lost even though the girls resolve to remain best friends no matter what. Maylin, Flora’s older sister, is too obsessed with planning her quinceañera to pay attention to her. Worse, Clara quickly finds a new friend in California. Flora thinks no one can hold a candle to Clara until a new student arrives in class: Hailing from Paris, Lebanese Zaidee Khal seems too sophisticated for fifth grade. As Flora slowly warms up to Zaidee, they begin to form a new friendship. But can Flora have two besties? Chambers places universal friendship trials within the specific joy and beauty of an Afro-Panamanian family, capturing the deep, intense emotions of childhood bonds. Rim’s delightful illustrations punctuate the text and capture the mood of the characters’ journeys. The dialogue is peppered with Spanish in the natural cadence of bilingual families, with each member possessing varying degrees of proficiency. Non-Spanish–speaking readers won’t miss a beat and may even pick up a phrase or two.

Funny, heartwarming, and sweet.

(Fiction. 8-12)