Gabriela is super excited when her gift from Titi Sylvia finally arrives. She loves the colorful, glittery butterfly wings! She stands in the middle of her room and flaps and flaps her new wings, but nothing happens. She jumps off her bed, vigorously moving the wings up and down, but again, nada. She hops down the hallway and the stairs, but she still can’t fly! Disappointed, Gabriela goes to the garage, digs into her father’s toolbox and sets about trying to fix the broken butterfly wings. Maybe she can add a battery or an engine. Her father has a better idea, though, and encourages her to close her eyes and think about where she would like to fly. Soon she is envisioning El Yunque, a rainforest on the island of Puerto Rico that is full of tall green trees, humming waterfalls and chattering birds. She can even hear the coqui, a tiny tree frog that lives only on the island, singing its special song: coqui-coqui.
Maxy is a happy puppy who lives with Clarita and her family in a house filled with music and laughter on the island of Puerto Rico. On sunny days, Clarita and Maxy go to the park or on adventures under the flamboyant tree. On rainy days, they stay inside and play games or read books.
But one day, Maxy sees everyone rushing around, putting things in boxes. Someone says, “María is coming!” That night, Hurricane María roared ashore; there was thunder, lightning and lots of rain. Maxy was terrified! Finally, the power went out and the house and everything around it was completely dark. The next day when they went outside, they saw destroyed homes, flooded roads and knocked-down trees-including their beloved flamboyant! There was no electricity for a long time, and everyone had to stand in long lines for food, gas and even water to drink.
Eventually, power is restored and Maxy thinks everything is going to be okay. Until one day, the clouds start to gather and he hears thunder and whistling winds. Trembling and whining, he races under the bed! Eventually, and with the help of loved ones, Maxy like many children who go through natural disasters learns to overcome his fear and appreciate the benefits of rain.
Featured in WOW Review Volume XIV, Issue 4.
Cassi has always been proud to be Puerto Rican, but when others comment on her appearance, telling her she doesn’t look like the rest of her family, Cassi begins to question everything.
Luci was born without a shadow. Mamá says no one notices. But Luci does. And sometimes others do too. Sometimes they stare, sometimes they tease Luci, and sometimes they make her cry. But when Luci learns to look at what makes her different as a strength, she realizes she has more power than she ever thought. And that her differences can even be a superpower.
Young Julia struggles with the steps to the Afro-Puerto Rican dance known as bomba, but when she stops trying so hard and listens and feels the beat of the drums, she is able to relax, enjoy herself, and do the steps perfectly.
After a fight at school leaves Marcus facing suspension, Marcus’s mother takes him and his younger brother, who has Down syndrome, to Puerto Rico to visit relatives they do not remember or have never met, and while there Marcus starts searching for his father, who left their family ten years ago and is somewhere on the island.
This book has been included in WOW’s Language and Learning: Children’s and Young Adult Fiction Booklist. For our current list, visit our Booklist page under Resources in the green navigation bar.
Eleven-year-old Ada De Jesús was on the cusp of her teens when she moved to the United States from Puerto Rico. Hurricane Hugo had just decimated the island and her father couldn’t find a job. In Chicago, the white dress she arrived in didn’t protect her from the snow and frigid temperatures! Constantly exposed to new things, she developed a resilience that served her well. “From one place to another, like riding a bike, if you keep pedaling, you won’t fall.” Ada discovered that students in the United States were frequently disrespectful to their teachers. At school she often felt like a two-year-old as she grappled with a completely new language. In addition to navigating a different culture, she had to deal with all the issues familiar to teenage girls: the growth of body hair, pimples, menstruation and burgeoning feelings for the opposite sex. Her memories of first intimate encounters, fending off unwanted advances and fear of pregnancy will strike a chord with readers. In these short vignettes recollecting her middle-school years, Ada De Jesús shares her poignant and often funny experiences as a newcomer and an adolescent. Young readers will relate to—and laugh at—her experiences; some may take heart that they too will overcome the difficulties common at this age.
Set in New Jersey in 1984, Beatriz’s story is a timeless one of a teenager’s navigation of romance, her brother’s choices, and her own family’s difficult past. A companion novel to the much-lauded Like Vanessa.
Carlitos lives in a happy home with his mother, his abuela, and Coco the cat. Life in his hometown is cozy as can be, but the call of the capital city pulls Carlitos across the bay in search of his father. Jolly piragueros, mischievous cats, and costumed musicians color this tale of love, family, and the true meaning of home.
Eleven-year-old Carolina moves with her family from Puerto Rico to upstate New York, where she attends Silver Meadows camp with her cousin, finds an abandoned cottage, and reclaims parts of the life she left in Puerto Rico.