Published by Disney Hyperion
Summary: Sal is new at his Miami middle school, and right away he seems to have attracted the attention of bully Yasmany. So Sal decides to play a trick on Yasmany: he reaches into another universe, pulls out a dead chicken, and puts it in Yasmany’s locker. This prank gets him sent to the principal’s office, where he meets Gabi Real: a straight-A student, editor of the paper, president of the student council, and self-appointed counsel to defend Yasmany. Sal and Gabi are both dealing with difficulties at home: Sal’s mom died several years ago, and Gabi’s baby brother Iggy is fighting for his life in the NICU. They become fast friends, Gabi admiring Sal’s sleight-of-hand magic skills and eventually learning about his abilities to manipulate parallel universes, which include occasional attempts to bring back his dead mother. Much to their surprise, it turns out Gabi possesses a similar ability, and she and Sal must decide how to channel their powers for good, particularly when it comes to saving Iggy. 400 pages; grades 3-7.
Pros: If the above description seems like a lot, trust me when I say that it only skims the surface of all that is in this book. Did I mention Sal has diabetes? That the Cuban-American culture plays a big role in the story? That Gabi has at least ten dads? That the story takes place in the near future, replete with artificial intelligence? This is easily the most fun book I’ve read this year, and I’m considering using it as the first selection for my fifth grade book club to suck unsuspecting 10-year-olds into a year of reading enjoyment.
Cons: Seeing that this is part of the “Rick Riordan Presents” imprint, kids may be expecting more gods and monsters–this is a different kind of story, but I think it will still appeal to fans of Percy Jackson and other demigods.