"Méndez tackles problems of racism, discrimination, income inequality, immigration, and ethnic and cultural stereotypes. There is much to like, and readers will find a strong and resilient character they can root for in this story." Kirkus Reviews
"Fast-paced chapters are driven by the mystery of Mamá's whereabouts and the suspense of Minerva's struggle to maintain all of her responsibilities. Distinctive characters will delight readers, who will find themselves laughing at the cleverness of Minerva's little sisters. A strong addition to middle-grade collections, with a unique point of view and memorable characters." Booklist
"Mendez manages to successfully weave multiple story lines and characters throughout the novel, and each is satisfactorily resolved at the end. Minerva's predicament will reach many readers grappling with similar insecurities or uncertainties in this timely, emotionally charged story." School Library Journal
"This is such a magical, beautiful book that, after reading it, all I can say is . . . I believe in fairies—special, magical chispitas like Yamile, who make this broken world livable. I do. I do!" Guadalupe García McCall, Pura Belpré Award-Winning Author of Summer of the Mariposas
"A beautifully written story about hard times, friendship, and the transcendent magic of family . . . with a bit of fairy dust thrown in. Readers will love Minerva's strength, ambition, and quirky humor, and will cheer for her as she bears huge responsibilities at home, faces challenges at school, and learns how to allow herself to be a kid." Rajani LaRocca, Newbery Honor winning author of Red, White, and Whole
"Yamile Méndez has woven a magical story about love and determination and the power we all have within. Her beautiful words and Minerva's mighty character, even in the face of unimaginable loss and pain, grasped my heart from the first page. . . Gorgeous and powerful." Kacen Callender, author of National Book Award winner King and the Dragonflies
New Visions Award Honor - Lee & Low Books Whitney Award Finalist - Storymakers Author Guild
Gr 4–7—Twelve-year-old Minerva Soledad Miranda is no stranger to shouldering more than her fair share of responsibilities. While Mama works hard at two jobs, Minerva helps out at home with her two younger sisters, Kota and Avi. When Mama doesn't come back from work one night, but glitter is left behind on the girls' bed and pink cupcakes are found on the windowsill, Minerva doesn't know what to think. Her sisters believe in Peques, fairies that are part of Argentinian folklore. Assuming that Mama will return soon, Minerva attempts to keep things as normal as possible—she worries her immigrant family may face deportation or foster care if they're found out. Try as she may, caring for herself and her two sisters proves nearly impossible, and as Minerva drags her sister to her audition and tries out for the part of Wendy in Peter Pan, she is cast in the culturally insensitive role of Tiger Lily. Feeling like she is fighting a losing battle but unsure whom she can trust with her secrets and worries, Minerva has to look within herself and to her new friend, Maverick, before the family is broken apart. When Mama does return, it looks like even fairy magic isn't enough to save her from a mysterious illness, and Minerva is faced with more difficult decisions regarding her extended family, her heritage, and her culture. VERDICT Mendez manages to successfully weave multiple story lines and characters throughout the novel, and each is satisfactorily resolved at the end. Miranda's predicament will reach many readers grappling with similar insecurities or uncertainties in this timely, emotionally charged story.—Michele Shaw, Quail Run Elementary School, San Ramon, CA
When Mamá fails to return home after her evening job, it is up to 12-year-old Minerva Soledad Miranda to take care of her younger sisters and hold the family together.
The family lives in a moldy basement apartment, and Mamá works two jobs and dresses the girls in hand-me-downs. In spite of the obstacles, Minerva has her life all figured out. The Argentine American seventh grader will be “the first Latina president of the United States.” And the first step to that goal is to get the lead role in Peter Pan, the school play. But nothing is working out. First, and most importantly, Mamá has gone missing. Then, brown-skinned Minerva gets the role of Tiger Lily, a character with only one line—“how”—and one that Minerva finds offensive to Native Americans, prompting her to take action. As the book progresses, Méndez tackles problems of racism, discrimination, income inequality, immigration, and ethnic and cultural stereotypes. All are real, true, and valid points, but they are laid out with such a heavy hand as to grow preachy, causing the book’s balance to tip from story to lesson. Mamá’s absence works well as a device to allow Minerva to come to the fore, but her reappearance and the explanation for her disappearance feel contrived. Nevertheless, there is still much to like, and readers will find a strong and resilient character they can root for in this story.
A redoubtable protagonist in a good storyline that doesn’t quite deliver. (Fiction. 8-12)