Here’s a charming first novel from the illustrator of Mango, Abuela & Me.
Stella Diaz Has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez. Roaring Brook Press, 2018. Stella is nervous about school now that her best friend, Jenny, is in another class. She’s grown up in America with a Spanish-speaking mother and has trouble speaking either Spanish or English clearly, often mixing the languages. That leads to her being very quiet in public, something that makes it very hard for her to reach out and make new friends. While I could relate to the difficulty making friends, Stella has a lot more going for her. She loves art, and fish, as well as her supportive older brother. Though her speech therapist keeps asking her if there’s any chance her parents will get back together, she’s happy that her parents are divorced because her father is just not reliable. There’s some talk of immigration issues, as Stella is incensed to learn that she’s considered an alien because she has a green card – as if that gave her green skin and antennae. Stella works hard to make new friends, stay in touch with the old, and get ready for a school presentation on marine life.
Stella has a nice blend of humor and passion. Dominguez’s illustrations feel almost like they could have been done by a talented child, and add even more to the story. This is one that feels perfect for middle elementary kids to read to themselves, just a bit more advanced than early chapter books but not yet with the smaller text and length of those for upper elementary or middle school. It could also work as a read aloud for younger kids. I think it will be perfect for my daughter next year, and I very much enjoyed it myself.