Chasing the Jaguar

( 1 )

Overview

Martika Gálvez's "To Do" list:

1. Research final project for art class—on the jaguar

2. Pick up dress for quinceañera

3. Study the arts of telepathy (ESP) and pyrokinesis (starting fires at will)

4. Build an altar and pray to Mayan deities

5. Use psychic powers to recover stolen ancient statue and help ...

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Overview

Martika Gálvez's "To Do" list:

1. Research final project for art class—on the jaguar

2. Pick up dress for quinceañera

3. Study the arts of telepathy (ESP) and pyrokinesis (starting fires at will)

4. Build an altar and pray to Mayan deities

5. Use psychic powers to recover stolen ancient statue and help rescue abducted teen girl . . . and convince Mom I'm really studying at the library

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Denise Daley
Martika is a poor but hardworking teenage girl. She helps her mother clean houses for money and devotes much of her spare time to studying. Life for Martika is already challenging but her problems are just beginning. Martika has reoccurring nightmares that are so realistic that she wakes up questioning her sanity. Suddenly Martika begins to experience strange visions involving a local rich girl who was recently kidnapped. That is when Martika's mother decides to tell her the truth about her family history. Traditional medicine women with special psychic abilities have been in Martika's family for generations. With the help of a recently discovered great-great aunt, Martika learns not only about the special powers that she has inherited, but also how to use these powers in a positive way. Martika discovers that her strange visions are not really a problem after all, especially when she learns how to use them to rescue the kidnapped girl. This is an entertaining and exciting book with a realistic heroine that readers will be rooting for.
KLIATT - Claire Rosser
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, May 2006: This combines all the eerie spookiness of the TV show Medium with Mayan history and modern-day California culture. As Martika celebrates her quinceanera she has strange dreams that disturb her—she worries she is becoming mentally ill. It's a relief, then, to discover that in her father's Mayan heritage, there is a lineage of women who have psychic powers—in fact, a great-aunt lives nearby and can guide her to develop her own gift. This aunt is a consultant to the LA police, and becomes intricately involved in the plot when Martika gets embroiled in an effort to rescue a kidnapped teenager and also recover a sacred Mayan artifact—a sculptured jaguar. This is a story that is thrilling, spooky, and filled with responsible, trying-their-best teenagers. It's a fine debut novel from an author with a background in acting and screenwriting. Greene is a native Angeleno of part-Mexican heritage, and this is a story that celebrates that cultural background. Spanish words and phrases—with descriptions of family life and food—are included to give readers a sense of the rich cultural mixtures many American YAs experience. Reviewer: Claire Rosser
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-An intriguing mystery by the L.A. Law actress and songwriter. While Mexican-American Martika prepares for her quincea-era in a tough section of Los Angeles, she begins to have vivid and frightening nightmares that always feature a jaguar. She also dreams about a rich girl who has been kidnapped by a shady art collector; Martika is able to experience what abducted Jennifer Colton feels. With crisp dialogue liberally sprinkled with Spanish words, Greene portrays the coming of age of an unusual teen. Martika discovers that she is one of a long line of Mayan curanderas, or witches. Her growing and unusually strong powers help her to eventually solve the kidnapping case. Los Angeles is vibrantly described, with its sharply divided communities, the prevalence of drugs, and a sly bit of commentary on the residents' often superficial priorities and morals. Martika's story combines a traditional mystery told from multiple perspectives, magical realism of the Mayan world, a girl's inherited powers, and a statement on value systems. While Martika's telekinetic and pyrokinetic powers add unusual flavor to the tale, she is in many ways a typical teen. Greene introduces the tale with information about the ancient and current Mayan cultures, and the importance of magic, talismans, and shape-shifters. This unusual mystery is sure to attract teens, and should encourage them to find out more about Mayan culture.-B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Library, Sag Harbor, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Combining ancient mysticism with urban Los Angeles, author Greene, formerly an actress on L.A. Law, introduces novice crime-fighter Martika Galvez. As the teen Latina with the cat-like eyes approaches her 15th birthday, her strange dreams increase in frequency and strength. When her mother's wealthy employer, a shady car dealer who operates in the black market, sells an unusual jaguar statue stolen from a Mayan temple to the wrong buyer, resulting in the kidnapping of his teenage daughter, Jennifer, Martika believes that her dreams are connected. Under the guidance of T'a Tell'n, the barrio "witch," Martika learns that she is a descendant of a long line of Mayan curanderas, or female shamans. While discovering such abilities as telepathy, telekinesis, pyrokinesis and shape-shifting, Martika begins to put them to use to save Jennifer and recover the statue. This jaguar snores, not roars, as flat, stereotyped characters and a storyline that reads like most primetime television dramas ruin a great premise. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060763534
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/30/2006
  • Series: A Martika Galvez Mystery Series
  • Pages: 240
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Michele Domínguez Greene is an Emmy-nominated actress who has starred in the NBC series L.A. Law and numerous television movies and independent films. Behind the camera, her talent as a screenwriter has garnered her critical acclaim. Her screenplays include Fly Cherry and Beethoven's 7-11, which won the 2004 Spirit of Moondance Award in the category of best short screenplays at the Moondance International Film Festival. Her first novel, Chasing the Jaguar, has been optioned by movie producer Robert Katz, whose films include Selena and Introducing Dorothy Dandridge.

Ms. Greene is also a bilingual singer/songwriter signed to Appleseed Recordings. She has recorded two solo albums, Ojo de Tiburón and Luna Roja, and has lent her vocals to Spain in My Heart: Songs of the Spanish Civil War and the Grammy-nominated Seeds, a compilation of songs by Pete Seeger.

A native Angeleno of Mexican-Oklahoman-Irish heritage, Ms. Greene resides in Los Angeles, California.

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Read an Excerpt

Chasing the Jaguar


By Michele Greene

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Michele Greene
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060763531

Chapter One

Martika tossed fitfully in her sleep, the same dream playing out again:

She's lost, on a crowded, unfamiliar street . . . so many people, jostling and bumping her . . . passive, inscrutable Indian faces. Dense trees hover at the edges of the dirt streets, their canopy reaching, arching, as if trying to reclaim what was once wild. Somewhere in the green jungle a big cat lets out a screeching cry, and Martika knows it is for her. Something is following her, something is waiting for her, something powerful, foreboding. . . . What is it? Where is it?

The loud honking of the MTA bus on the street below her window jarred her awake. Martika broke out in a faint sheen of sweat. Outside the morning traffic was already getting out of control; frustrated drivers honked and lined up for the freeway on-ramp. Martika got out of bed and tried to shake off the dream.

Just a run-of-the-mill anxiety dream, probably related to finals, she told herself, making her way down the narrow hallway to the bathroom. In the past few weeks, her dreams had become strange and unsettling. Too many mornings she awoke feeling exhausted, as if she had been traveling a great distance. Powerful images of places she had never beenlingered in her mind all day.

She turned on the water in the shower, stuck her hand in, and waited. Good, the Mendez family next door hadn't yet used all the hot water in the building. From the kitchen, the smell of chorizo con huevos filled the apartment, and she could hear her mother, Aurelia, listening to her favorite morning radio show, El Cucuy de la Manana.

"Dime, mi amor, crees que tu esposo anda con otra?" The annoying host was asking a caller about her marriage.

In a timid voice the woman answered, "Pues creo que si porque no regreso anoche hasta las tres de la manana."

Great, thought Martika, that's all Mom needs to be listening to, complaints about a cheating husband.

That was too often the topic in her family these days, since her father had moved out. As if on cue, she heard Aurelia bang a pot loudly and then shout, "Martika, hurry up! You're going to miss the bus!"

Martika slid out of her cotton pajamas and stepped into the shower. As she squeezed the shampoo into her hair, the water turned cold. Damn the Mendez family and their six kids.

"We're going to pick up your dress today after school, okay?" Aurelia declared, heaping more chorizo onto Martika's plate. Martika nodded and put the last piece of tortilla into her mouth. She had changed the radio to a rock en espanol station, and Mana's hit "Mariposa Traicionera" filled the small kitchen. Her mother had a checklist for Martika's quinceanera in front of her.

"Then we pick up the party favors at Maria's and then we confirm the cake."

"Mom, we confirmed the cake last week."

"You can't be too careful. I had a cousin, Lupita, who ended up with a sympathy cake for her quinceanera. The bakery got confused and thought it was for a velorio. Poor thing, it actually had black frosting!"

Martika tried to swallow a laugh with her orange juice until she saw the sly smile on her mother's face as she continued, "It was dreadful. I laughed so hard I thought I would pass out, but Lupita didn't think it was funny. Your party is in two days; we're not having anything go wrong! And be sure to tell your father to double-check with that mariachi he hired, so they show up on time." She went back to the kitchen to scour the skillet.

Turning fifteen was an important milestone in Mexican culture, marking a girl's entry into womanhood. Martika's parents took it very seriously. The guests, the party, the music--everything had to be just right. To top it off, the elaborate white dress made it seem like a wedding. It was planned for the coming Sunday since both her parents worked on Saturday and her school was having an administrative holiday on Monday. And they could attend the Sunday mass first, as was customary before the party. For now, her parents were making her crazy over the details of the quinceanera; just the night before, her father had called four times.

As far as Martika was concerned, the party caused more tension than anything else, especially with her parents separated and the family up in arms about it. The fact that her father, Camiso, had a new girlfriend only complicated matters. She didn't want to disappoint her parents or seem unappreciative, but the whole thing seemed silly, the idea of all those people watching her, everyone celebrating that she was finally a woman.

From her perspective, there was not much difference between being fourteen and fifteen, except that now she was having weird dreams and waking up exhausted every day. She rubbed her eyes and pushed the plate away just as her mother returned with warm tortillas from the stove.

"That's okay, Mom. I don't need any more."

"You only had two tortillas! I don't want to hear any of this no-carb nonsense, this dieting. I read about it at Mrs. Weg's house."

"I'm just not hungry anymore. I had two servings of chorizo!"

"Well, you could gain a few pounds. It's not good to be too skinny, like those white girls who starve themselves. I read about that when the car was being fixed last week."

Her mother read everything and subsequently worried about everything. If it wasn't the disease of the week, it was pollutants in the environment or gang violence or genetically engineered fruit. Martika often wondered if maybe anxiety was what kept Aurelia going through the day, what with cleaning houses across the city and then taking care of their own apartment with all the cooking and shopping and such.

"How'd you sleep last night?" her mother asked off-handedly.

Continues...


Excerpted from Chasing the Jaguar by Michele Greene Copyright © 2006 by Michele Greene. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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First Chapter

Chasing the Jaguar
Chapter One

Martika tossed fitfully in her sleep, the same dream playing out again:

She's lost, on a crowded, unfamiliar street . . . so many people, jostling and bumping her . . . passive, inscrutable Indian faces. Dense trees hover at the edges of the dirt streets, their canopy reaching, arching, as if trying to reclaim what was once wild. Somewhere in the green jungle a big cat lets out a screeching cry, and Martika knows it is for her. Something is following her, something is waiting for her, something powerful, foreboding. . . . What is it? Where is it?


The loud honking of the MTA bus on the street below her window jarred her awake. Martika broke out in a faint sheen of sweat. Outside the morning traffic was already getting out of control; frustrated drivers honked and lined up for the freeway on-ramp. Martika got out of bed and tried to shake off the dream.

Just a run-of-the-mill anxiety dream, probably related to finals, she told herself, making her way down the narrow hallway to the bathroom. In the past few weeks, her dreams had become strange and unsettling. Too many mornings she awoke feeling exhausted, as if she had been traveling a great distance. Powerful images of places she had never been lingered in her mind all day.

She turned on the water in the shower, stuck her hand in, and waited. Good, the Mendez family next door hadn't yet used all the hot water in the building. From the kitchen, the smell of chorizo con huevos filled the apartment, and she could hear her mother, Aurelia, listening to her favorite morning radioshow, El Cucuy de la Mañana.

"Dime, mi amor, ¿crees que tu esposo anda con otra?" The annoying host was asking a caller about her marriage.

In a timid voice the woman answered, "Pues creo que sí porque no regresó anoche hasta las tres de la mañana."

Great, thought Martika, that's all Mom needs to be listening to, complaints about a cheating husband.

That was too often the topic in her family these days, since her father had moved out. As if on cue, she heard Aurelia bang a pot loudly and then shout, "Martika, hurry up! You're going to miss the bus!"

Martika slid out of her cotton pajamas and stepped into the shower. As she squeezed the shampoo into her hair, the water turned cold. Damn the Mendez family and their six kids.

"We're going to pick up your dress today after school, okay?" Aurelia declared, heaping more chorizo onto Martika's plate. Martika nodded and put the last piece of tortilla into her mouth. She had changed the radio to a rock en español station, and Maná's hit "Mariposa Traicionera" filled the small kitchen. Her mother had a checklist for Martika's quinceañera in front of her.

"Then we pick up the party favors at Maria's and then we confirm the cake."

"Mom, we confirmed the cake last week."

"You can't be too careful. I had a cousin, Lupita, who ended up with a sympathy cake for her quinceañera. The bakery got confused and thought it was for a velorio. Poor thing, it actually had black frosting!"

Martika tried to swallow a laugh with her orange juice until she saw the sly smile on her mother's face as she continued, "It was dreadful. I laughed so hard I thought I would pass out, but Lupita didn't think it was funny. Your party is in two days; we're not having anything go wrong! And be sure to tell your father to double-check with that mariachi he hired, so they show up on time." She went back to the kitchen to scour the skillet.

Turning fifteen was an important milestone in Mexican culture, marking a girl's entry into womanhood. Martika's parents took it very seriously. The guests, the party, the music—everything had to be just right. To top it off, the elaborate white dress made it seem like a wedding. It was planned for the coming Sunday since both her parents worked on Saturday and her school was having an administrative holiday on Monday. And they could attend the Sunday mass first, as was customary before the party. For now, her parents were making her crazy over the details of the quinceañera; just the night before, her father had called four times.

As far as Martika was concerned, the party caused more tension than anything else, especially with her parents separated and the family up in arms about it. The fact that her father, Camiso, had a new girlfriend only complicated matters. She didn't want to disappoint her parents or seem unappreciative, but the whole thing seemed silly, the idea of all those people watching her, everyone celebrating that she was finally a woman.

From her perspective, there was not much difference between being fourteen and fifteen, except that now she was having weird dreams and waking up exhausted every day. She rubbed her eyes and pushed the plate away just as her mother returned with warm tortillas from the stove.

"That's okay, Mom. I don't need any more."

"You only had two tortillas! I don't want to hear any of this no-carb nonsense, this dieting. I read about it at Mrs. Weg's house."

"I'm just not hungry anymore. I had two servings of chorizo!"

"Well, you could gain a few pounds. It's not good to be too skinny, like those white girls who starve themselves. I read about that when the car was being fixed last week."

Her mother read everything and subsequently worried about everything. If it wasn't the disease of the week, it was pollutants in the environment or gang violence or genetically engineered fruit. Martika often wondered if maybe anxiety was what kept Aurelia going through the day, what with cleaning houses across the city and then taking care of their own apartment with all the cooking and shopping and such.

"How'd you sleep last night?" her mother asked off-handedly.

Chasing the Jaguar. Copyright © by Michele Greene. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 27, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jocelyn Pearce for TeensReadToo.com

    Martika Galvez is just a normal teenage girl. That is, until she turns fifteen and learns that her ancestors were Mayan curanderas and she's following in their footsteps! Her strange dreams apparently mean that she has psychic powers, passed down from her father's side of the family, that her parents have tried to ignore for fifteen years. <BR/><BR/>Now, though, Martika has to deal with learning about her powers from another curandera, Tia Tellin. She's learning about her ancestors, her powers, and how to use them. Martika is also dealing with the typical problems that come with being fifteen: friends, guys, and schoolwork! If that wouldn't be difficult enough, Martika is also involved in a mystery! Her mother has been working for a man whose teenage daughter is kidnapped--and Martika's powers could be the key to finding her before anything bad happens to Jennifer. <BR/><BR/>CHASING THE JAGUAR is a fast-paced, enjoyable book full of interesting bits of Spanish and stories about Martika's Mayan ancestors. Martika is just one of a cast of believable, likable characters in the story. This is a quick and entertaining read, written by an excellent new author. Michele Dominguez Greene's writing is great, and I certainly hope she's planning more books about Martika!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 31, 2009

    Go Martika

    Michele Dominguez Greene's book Chasing the Jaguar, starts with a young woman named Martika having any other dream. Michele is an Emmy-nominated actress who has starred in screenplays of Beethoven's 7-11, and NBC series L.A. Law. She is a native Anglecano of Mexican-Oklahoman-Irish heritage, and now resides in Los Angeles, California. Martika was going to have a quinceanera and have the time of her life, until she starts seeing things and finds out she is a curandera, a psychic. Then the daughter of the Ted Colton, the guy her mother works for, gets kidnapped and its up to her and her powers to help get her back. Martika learned to be responsible and helped get a kidnapped child back to safety. If you have power, use it for good instead of throwing it to waste. This book is a mystery book with a very captivating adventure and think everybody should read it. Even if you did not like mysteries or adventures before, you will love this one because Martika is the Latina Nancy Drew and plus she is psychic.

    Martika is the main character and is turning 15 and having a quinceanera. She has been having these dreams lately, but has no idea they are visions of what will occur in the future. Tia Tellin is Martika's aunt and is also a curandera. She is the one who is teaching Martika everything there is to know about the powers she has. Aurelia is Martika's mother and works for Ted Colton, a wealthy, business man. He has a daughter named Jennifer and is a teenager who is snobby. Later on she is kidnapped. Jennifer is kidnapped for something important in exchange, a stolen ancient, jaguar statue. Martika's psychic abilities let her feel what Jennifer is going through and to hear the call of the jaguar.
    I love this book and all of you out there should definitely read this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2007

    a reviewer

    Martika Galvez is just a normal teenage girl. That is, until she turns fifteen and learns that her ancestors were Mayan curanderas and she's following in their footsteps! Her strange dreams apparently mean that she has psychic powers, passed down from her father's side of the family, that her parents have tried to ignore for fifteen years. Now, though, Martika has to deal with learning about her powers from another curandera, Tia Tellin. She's learning about her ancestors, her powers, and how to use them. Martika is also dealing with the typical problems that come with being fifteen: friends, guys, and schoolwork! If that wouldn't be difficult enough, Martika is also involved in a mystery! Her mother has been working for a man whose teenage daughter is kidnapped--and Martika's powers could be the key to finding her before anything bad happens to Jennifer. CHASING THE JAGUAR is a fast-paced, enjoyable book full of interesting bits of Spanish and stories about Martika's Mayan ancestors. Martika is just one of a cast of believable, likable characters in the story. This is a quick and entertaining read, written by an excellent new author. Michele Dominguez Greene's writing is great, and I certainly hope she's planning more books about Martika! **Reviewed by: Jocelyn Pearce

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2006

    love it!

    i love this book! i hope she writes many more. i read it in 2 days, it was that good! i love her writing style, and the suspense is just killer! id be like, 5 more minutes mom, and would end up reading 2 more chapters, because i just couldn't put i down. i highly recommend this for middle school girls on a holiday. that's the only time you'll have time to read it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2006

    AwEsOmE! One of my FAVORITES

    It is really good. If you have a thing for books about witches and the such, like me!, then you should so read this! Martika seems like such a real character and THE BOOK IS AWESOME!! you have to read it

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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