Published by Graphix
Summary: The story opens with five middle school students gathered in the principal’s office, clearly in some kind of trouble and being asked to tell what happened. Jorge, or George, begins. When he’s assigned a community service stint in the cafeteria, he’s told he’ll be with “kids like him”. He assumes that means other gifted students, but it turns out it’s a group of Latinx kids, many of whom, unlike George, speak Spanish as their first language. While they’re often lumped together, each student is from a different country and has a distinctive personality: George is Puerto Rican, Dayara is from Cuba; Miguel is Dominican; Nico, Venezuelan, and Sara, Mexican. Although each one has a typical middle school label (smart, tough, jock, snob, loner), as they take turns recounting their story, a very different picture emerges that shows each of them struggling with both family and school issues. By the end, the principal has heard a story of compassion, helping a little girl and her mother who have been living in a van near the school. The mean cafeteria lady is reprimanded and sent on her way, while the five kids celebrate their accomplishment and the beginning of a new friendship. Includes notes from the author and illustrator. 208 pages; grades 4-7.
Pros: There’s a lot packed into this graphic novel, with five unique and well-drawn (in both senses of the term) characters who help dispel the notion that Latinx kids all have similar backgrounds. Most of the students speak Spanish throughout the story, with the English translation added with a dashed-line cartoon bubble. Sure to be a big hit with all the fans of graphic novels set in middle school.
Cons: I was hoping for a little redemption for the mean cafeteria lady.
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