You Don’t Have A Clue

When two gun-toting hoodlums tell the fourteen-year-old narrator of René Saldaña’s story, “The Right Size,” to kiss the floor, he doesn’t think twice. And his dad and younger brother drop to the floor just as quickly. “This guy Jimmy probably thinks Dad is the greatest threat among the three of us, but he’s dead wrong. Dad couldn’t hurt a bug,” the boy thinks. In the ensuing twenty minutes, he learns that his dad isn’t as weak as he thought, and in fact, his dad is willing to do whatever it takes to protect his family, even if it means killing someone. The teens featured in these stories deal with situations typical to all young adults, including attraction to the opposite sex—or to the same sex, in one story—and first sexual encounters, problems with family and friends, academic and personal aspirations. But they also deal with every kind of thrilling situation imaginable, from missing girls to kidnappings and dismembered bodies. A young girl finds herself living with her “family,” though she has no memory of them or who they claim she is. A geek at a prestigious public high school finds himself working with his very attractive arch-rival to solve the mystery of a severed, bloody arm that appears inexplicably in his locker. And Mike’s life sucks when his parents split up, but it gets worse when his best friend is abducted by a thug shot by Mike’s dad, a police officer. There’s something for everyone here, with aliens, ghosts and even an Aztec god making appearances in these stories. Set in schools and communities from New York City to Venice Beach, California, the protagonists reflect the breadth and diversity of the Latino authors included in this innovative collection. Published authors such as Mario Acevedo, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Diana López and Sergio Troncoso appear alongside less well-known authors who deserve more recognition. With an introduction by young adult literature expert Dr. James Blasingame of Arizona State University, this collection is sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats until the last page is turned.

Who’s Buried In The Garden?

Seventh-grader Joshua knows his best friend Artie Mendoza is a liar. They have been friends since kindergarten, and Artie has told far-fetched stories for years. So when Artie tells Josh that there’s a body buried in Mrs. Foley’s garden, Josh doesn’t believe him at first. But when Josh walks by the Foleys’ house, he sees the mound of earth, about seven feet long and covered with flowers, and has to admit it does look like a grave. Artie insists that Mrs. Foley killed her husband and buried him in the back yard. The Foleys used to fight so loudly that kids walking in the alley behind their house could hear the arguments. Lately, there hasn’t been any sign of Mr. Foley. Still, Josh has his doubts. But Wolf Man, Artie’s other best friend, naively believes everything his friend tells him and encourages Artie’s plan to dig up the body. Josh doesn’t care much for Wolf Man, and if he’s honest with himself, he knows he’s jealous of the friendship between Wolf Man and Artie. Unlike Josh, they watch wrestling on TV, don’t care much about school, and on top of that, speak Spanish fluently, which makes Josh feel left out. While Josh struggles to avoid getting caught up in Artie’s scheme to get famous by digging up the supposed body in Mrs. Foley’s backyard he also tries to cultivate his budding friendship with Lorena, the prettiest girl in the seventh grade, who challenges Josh to see both Artie and Wolf Man in a different light. With other problems sprouting up all around him, Josh can’t help but wonder if there’s really a shovel-wielding criminal living in the neighborhood. Instead of digging up the garden, or grave, shouldn’t they call the police? Young adult author and educator Ray Villareal has written another fast-paced, exciting novel for middle-school students that explores the impact of making poor decisions and the importance of choosing the right friends.