Each Tiny Spark

by Pablo Cartaya

Smart, creative Emilia Torres, 12, is hyper-focused when engaged, but organization... read more

Smart, creative Emilia Torres, 12, is hyper-focused when engaged, but organization is a challenge. Her app developer mom, on a work trip, stays connected by video chat, while her dad, just home from a tour of duty overseas, is sometimes funny and affectionate and sometimes moody and withdrawn, making it hard for Emilia to reconnect with him. He opens up when teaching Emilia to weld, but she often feels the weight of his silence, along with the weight of expectations from her mom and Abuela. A social studies project researching the history of Latinx emigration to the Atlanta area, and ongoing discussions about redrawing school boundaries in her town, which would bring more Black and Latinx students to Emilia’s school, has Emilia thinking about justice, and fairness. Anti-immigration sentiment puts people she knows at risk, while many are quick with opinions about the proposed school boundaries, but no one is asking what kids and families who would be forced to change schools think. For Emilia, the importance of being seen, heard, and valued extends from her personal life, where she feels loved but not always listened to, to her community. Cuban American Emilia and her family are the believable, compelling center of an ambitious story that naturally integrates Spanish throughout. (Ages 9–12)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2020

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