Monday, January 10, 2011

MiddleGrade Monday: Tortilla Sun

Tortilla Sun, by Jennifer Cervantes

Publisher: Chronicle Books
Pages: 218
Reading Level: MiddleGrade
Enjoyment Level: Medium

MiddleGrade isn’t usually my thing, but Jennifer was nice enough to chat with my on the podcast for an episode of Writer’s Desk (check it our HERE). I like to make sure that I get reviews for authors who appear on the show…

From GoodReads:

A tender, magical story about 12 year old Izzy Roybal who is sent to spend the summer in her nana’s New Mexico village where she is soon caught up in the foreign world of her own culture, from patron saints and soulful food to the curious and magical blessings Nana gives her tortillas. In Nana’s village she meets Mateo, the adventurous, treasure seeking thirteen year old boy who lives on the other side of the bolted door in Izzy’s bedroom and six year old Maggie who is raising her cat, Frida, as a dog and sees marshmallow ghosts float out windows. When the wind begins to whisper to Izzy, she is soon led on an adventure to learn about her father’s mysterious death, who she really is, and to connect the hidden pieces of her past.

Although I liked the story, and I loved the setting details, the pacing is a little slow for me. I found myself putting the book down very easily, which isn’t just because I don’t usually do middlegrade books – there are quite a few MGs that I enjoy. I just found that Tortilla Sun wasn’t what I expected in the pacing department.

The characters are very well-done, though. I found Izzy’s journey to be natural and without contrivances to weigh her down. The mystery surrounding Izzy’s father and her mother’s past were both great incentives for her to search out answers.

I can say that the best part of the book was how well the culture was woven in to the storyline. The New Mexico setting and the town Izzy visits are vivid and bright. Definitely not over-the-top with ethnic and cultural references. It just blended so well with Izzy’s journey. And it made me hungry for homemade tortillas.

This is a good one for classrooms and school libraries. I can see a bright future for the author and I am very interested to see what she comes out with next.

Until next time, go read something!

~ Vilate

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