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Apolonia "Lina" Flores is a brave Latina girl trying to restore her life in Corpus Christi, Tex., after her mother's death. Her dad is a single-minded English teacher and bibliophile who has withdrawn to the point of disappearance since the tragedy ("Sometimes when I dream about him, I see a body, a neck, and a book where his face should be," Lina says). Despite her frustrations with her father, sixth-grader Lina is determined to create her own world of fun. "People who think socks are just for feet have no imagination," she says (she collects them and uses them for "coasters, bookmarks, wallets, and dusters"). Alongside Vanessa (her "best friend since forever"), Lina gains confidence by playing sports and relying on her own ingenuity (she dresses up as "red tide" one Halloween). The story is saturated with Spanish traditions, such as the making of "cascarones" (confetti-filled eggs), and the chapters begin with "dichos," truisms that help Lina feel connected to her mother. Employing lovely metaphors and realistic dialogue, adult author López (Sofia's Saints) delicately displays the power of optimism and innovation during difficult times. Ages 8-12. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.