By Laura Resau
(For 4th-8th grade)
Sixteen-year-old Sophia and her family are summoned to the hospital one night, where a 6-year-old Mexican boy, who they later discover is named Pablo, is recovering from dehydration. The group that Pablo was crossing the border with, including his parents, were all found dead, but the border patrol found Sophie’s stepfather’s business card in the dead man’s pocket.
Juan does not recognize the boy, but since he has no family in the USA, he comes to live Sophie, her parents, and her eccentric, great-aunt Dika — who is a refugee from the war in Bosnia. Over the course of the next year, Pablo becomes part of the family and emerges from his shell enough to help Sophie’s family make contact with his grandmother in Mexico.
In a twist of fate, Dika’s new boyfriend and his son, Angel, are planning to travel through Mexico to their native Guatemala during the summer. Dika, Sophie and Pablo ride along so that Pablo can see his family and eventually make a decision about whether he wants to stay in Mexico or return to the USA.
Sophie always considered herself an amoeba — a single-celled organism that aimlessly floats through life — and she is afraid of everything, from becoming an orphan to getting food poisoning. But it is on this summer adventure that she will have to conquer bigger fears in an effort to help her friends.
This memorable novel seamlessly blends cultures to create one breathtaking narrative. Sophie and the rest of the characters have to cross numerous borders — mentally, socially, as well as physically — and readers of all ages will fall in love with this captivating story.
“Marcelo in the Real World”
By Francisco X. Stork
Marcelo Sandoval, a high functioning, 17-year-old with Asperger’s syndrome, is looking forward to a summer of caring for therapeutic-riding ponies at Paterson, the special school that he has attend his entire life.
But then his father, Arturo, blindsides him with a proposition: Agree to work in the “real world” (a.k.a. the mailroom of Arturo’s law firm) for the summer and Marcelo can return to Patterson for his senior year of high school, or decline and go to the mainstream high school of Arturo’s choice.
Marcelo accepts the proposal and at the law firm Marcelo meets Jasmine, his mailroom supervisor, and Wendell, the son of his father’s business partner. It is with their help that Marcelo learns important life lessons about friendship, jealously, competition, trust and anger.
However, it is through the discovery of a mysterious girl’s photograph that he learns of pain and makes a decision that will alter his life forever.
Stork does a fine job developing Marcelo into a well-rounded, believable character. While Marcelo’s condition is a chief element of the story, Stork does an amazing job exploring it without neglecting the rest of the story. His first person narrative is effective for allowing readers the opportunity to understand what is happening in Marcelo’s head, while allowing for the enjoyment of the rest of the story.
This is an engaging, satisfying novel that should not be missed by teens and adults alike.
Jeana Gockley is the children’s librarian at Joplin Public Library.
- Globe Life
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Frankie Meyer: Rubbings of graves can work better than photos
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Jacque Gage: Book celebrates past photos, warns about future
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Ryan Richardson: Readers share their own summer advice
Only here can we have a long winter segue straight into a balmy summer. Between the torrential rains and the highs already flirting with the upper 80s, I’m convinced that this summer is going to be a mix of everything.
Founder of Souls Harbor returns to her ministry after 20-year absence
After helping husband Art Jones found Souls Harbor more than 31 years ago, Georgia Jones has come full circle and returned to lead the mission that serves the homeless and needy in the Joplin area.
Ryan Richardson: Time apart tough for pets and owners
Since I became a Joplin resident over nine months ago, I have had my dog, Cami, with me the whole time. We've explored trails, survived thunderstorms, slept on the couch and had some epic belly rubs.
Frankie Meyer: Research collections can disappear after death
When researching family history, genealogists collect many reference books, pamphlets, documents and photos. What will happen to your cherished items after your death? Unless you make your wishes known, those items could be tossed or sold at a flea market by unknowing relatives or friends.
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