About Isa M

I’m in a Spanish Dual Immersion Program (TWIS). I’m turning 13 soon and am in 7th grade.

US IN PROGRESS – Short Stories About Young Latinos- by Lulu Delacre

US, in Progress, is pure heaven. I read the title as us, like the word, but my mom read it as US, like the abbreviation for the United States. I like that because both work as the title. It’s really fun. There are 12 independent stories in this book. Each has their own title and drawing that has a special meaning. 

The first story is called, The Attack, and is about a young Mexican boy named Emilio. His older brother, Tony, has epilepsy and there ends up being a problem. Emilio and José, his twin brother, try to help but it ends up worse. This story was thought-provoking and it was quite a start to this book.

*This one has spoilers 

The second story is named Selfie and the beautiful drawing is of a girl with a sugar skull painted on half of her face. That picture alone intrigued me. The girl, Marla, has a diabetic mother and she started having signs of type 2 diabetes. At school, she learns about bike programs and works to get her own bike. She then rides in the 9 mile Dia de Los Muertos ride and starts to feel better. In my opinion, it was a nice story because it had a happy ending.

*This one has spoilers 

The next story is by far my favorite one. Its name is Güera. It’s so fun! It centers around a Latina girl with pale skin and blond hair. Boy can I get that! Her giant family calls her Güera instead of her birth name, Vicky. When she gets on the subway, a guy gets up behind her. He and another man start to speak in Spanish and it starts to get negative. Luckily, our powerful Latina speaks Spanish and understands what they are saying. She does the unthinkable, she gives a snappy one liner. This story is amazing and perfect in every way.

Burrito Man is a heartbreaking and heartwarming story. A teenager, Alex, goes with her Salvadorian (only one in the whole book) dad to his job as a burrito man at his truck. She then sees how much he cares for her and knows his community when he talks to each person by name as they put money into his tip jar which has a handwritten sign that says Alex´s College Fund. I won’t finish this summary because if I do, it will make you sad.

You have to rip off band aids, especially when you read the story Band Aid. It’s such a sad story with a tear jerking ending. It all starts when Alina´s father gets deported back to Honduras. She then becomes like a mother to her siblings, all while ghosting her best friend. This story really makes you long for your parents to wrap you up in a fuzzy blanket and shove warm, gooey, chocolate chip cookies in your face.

As a firstborn child, I make fun of my brothers a ton, but I would never bully them. Firstborn is about a middle child from Puerto Rico trying to live with her bully of an older sister. Her older sister is verbally tormenting her younger sisters. Eventually, the younger sisters snap. This short story makes me really think about how I treat my younger siblings and it’s definitely an eye opening read.

Cubano Two is about the two new hosts of  the morning news show. Both of them are 8th graders and Cubanos, which you could get from the title. They spend most of the chapter talking back and forth with their spicy vocabulary. It’s a very short chapter and not my favorite one. It’s still good though.

This next short story is called Peacemaker. It is about a young boy and his fighting parents. It’s a very suspenseful story that has a happy ending that makes me question how long the peace will last. I empathize a bit with the main character because I also calm down people after fights, when I can at least. But, I can’t really understand the pain that this guy has to go through.

Following the last story, The Secret, is another happy ending. A teenage girl finds out she’s illegal and starts to isolate herself from her younger sister, the main character. The younger sister reads Esperanza´s, the older sister´s, diary and tries to find a way to help. This story is nice because Esperanza means hope and that’s what this story oozes. Hope.

Pickup Soccer is a story you have to read a bit slower because of all the peoples names! You just read name after name and so it’s a bit of a slower read. It’s also in more of a poem format so it’s fun to read aloud! It’s about a VERY energetic guy and a pickup soccer game, which are very common.

*This one has spoilers 

This next story is named Saturday School. It centers around an unofficial Spanish speaker who goes to summer school to clean up?, her Spanish. It’s funny though because she learns Argentinian Spanish and I always have to explain to my friends that there are different types of Spanish. But, there is a very nice ending with a book club!

The last story!!!!!!! It’s called 90,000 children and there’s this guy, Frank, who hates immigrants, or as he calls them, aliens. It starts out weird because Frank hates immigrants but ends nicely. 

This book is amazing in every way. I love it so much and wish I owned it!! I can’t wait for more people to read it because it has so much knowledge and emotions  and experiences in it that there is plenty to spare!

A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan

This book made me hungry. It also made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. When I first saw the cover I thought it was about cats because the illustrations around the title look like cat paws to me, but I picked it up anyways. It was actually about food, and good food at that.

This book centers around two girls, Sara and Elizabeth. Sara´s mother runs an after school South Asian cuisine class (club) and there she ends up partnered with Elizabeth. 

Sara is a beautiful young girl at Poplar Springs Middle school. She just transferred there from her Islamic school called Iqra Academy where her best friend, Rabia, goes. She doesn’t really love cooking, but since that’s her mom’s job… 

Elizabeth loves cooking! She also goes to Poplar Springs Middle and she attends Sara´s mother´s after school club. Her best friend, Mandy, also goes to the after school class but she isn’t always the best friend. Mandy starts hanging out more with another girl and Elizabeth ends up partnered with Sara.

This book is a really, really, good book about 2 chefs/bakers. I also really liked the side plot about their immigrant mothers getting their citizenship. I thought it was really interesting because I still remember my dad getting his citizenship at the same time as my friend’s dad so we hung out the whole time. So it was really fun to see what they, as older kids, and not 2nd graders, think about this.

Overall, this is a great book that you can only read with food on hand because the amount of mouth wandering food in this book is extreme. It was interesting to read because the narrator rotated every chapter so you got to see each point of view. It was really a very good book.

A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly

Don’t be mistaken by the title, this book is not about an isolated island filled with barefoot girls without parents Orphan Island (also at the library) style. However, it’s still a really good book about two girls and their modern evil stepmother living in Giverny, Louisiana. 

Soledad (Sol) lives with her little sister Dominga (Ming) in the United States of America. They live in an ¨affordable housing¨ apartment complex called Magnolia Tower, more specifically Apartment 4. It would have been nice if they lived there with their father, especially since they lost their mother and middle sister when she was young, but he left for a trip back to the Philippines and never returned. As a result, he left them with their cigarette smoking, nose twisting, hair spitting, and extremely evil stepmother.

To pass time, Sol tells Ming stories about their Auntie Jove and her magical adventures around the world. Sol also hangs out with the seven-girl-kissing Manny. I could spoil the book, but I won’t because that’s just wrong.

Sooooo, read the book. It’s a good book and, in my opinion, a pretty easy read. But when you read it, make sure you’re not going to move for a while, that book glues you in your seat.

The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

My trip to El Salvador

I had a dream that I went to El Salvador, but I never woke up. When I got back home, my parents told me it was real. El Salvador is an amazing country that I wish I never came back from. To start, here’s some background information about the small tropical country.

 El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America and the capital is San Salvador. El Salvador was originally populated by the Pipil, they called the territory Cuscatlán (Land of the Jewel) and the language they used was made primarily by the -ch- sound. Later they were taken by the Spaniards and they melted their national language and Spanish to create a whole new vocabulary! It’s mostly like Spanish but has more -ch-‘s than in most Spanishes. That’s all the background information I will provide today.

So now I will start with my dream trip, so to start my family and I landed in San Salvador and we got picked up by my fantastic family. We went to their house and had the BEST PUPUSAS ever and a great little soft drink, it’s called Kolashampan. When you say it rhymes with champagne, I think it’s fun to say. Our plane arrived later so we went to sleep almost immediately.

The next day we went to Tacuba to visit my abuela. On the way we stopped by a Catholic Church and the best little farmers market. The ladies carried baskets on their heads and the kids ran around with chickens! My abuela lives in an amazing ranch with so much yard you can get lost. She was so happy we came, we haven’t seen her in years. The ranch was like a ranch from a fairy tale. We spent one day there.

The following day, we went to one of the national parks of El Salvador. On the way we stopped at a volcano filled with a lake in the center. The national park that we went to is named Cerro Verde. The trails there were amazingly beautiful. There is also a giant active volcano on the side where you can see smoke coming out of the top. There was also a really fun park. 

The next morning, we went to see the ruins! There were pyramids buried in the hills. We saw some artifacts and got coconut water there. The artifacts were so pretty and had such fascinating details. The coconut water was in bags with straws poking out of the top.

After that, we went to see downtown San Salvador. We saw more churches that were so, so, so magnificent and learned about the one saint of El Salvador, Saint Óscar Romero. We also fed some pigeons. My cousin and I also went to Dollar City, and got junk food and toys. I got a giant coloring map of the world and my family spent the whole night coloring and drawing. It was perfect. 

The day after that, my parents and my tio went shooting and my tia, cousins, brothers and I went around trying to find a soccer jersey. Once we found it we went to a 16 foot pool with a diving board. We spent the rest of the great day there. Once it was late, my tios, mom and I went grocery shopping and we got delicious street food. 

The next day was our second to last, we went to a beach with pitch black sand. We also got a cabana with hammocks and we all fell asleep in them. The ocean there was warm! It was actually quite nice, not like hot icky warm. A good warm. There were also a couple of pools that were fresh water, no chemicals. It was so nice to get all the sand off. We also spent the next morning in the pool.

The last day we went to the mall to get our souvenirs and Spanish churros. They made the churros fresh in front of our faces and put some sweet sauces on it. There was caramel, Nutella and condensed milk. For dinner , we went to eat at a fancy restaurant our family really likes and we had fantastic rich food. At the end of our trip, we went to get -llao llao-. It tastes like Greek yogurt and you got to put on toppings! I put honey and a sort of almond granola.

That was our last day there and the next morning we went to the airport and went home. We had a layover in Guatemala and got some more cool stuff. And that was all.

My trip was perfect. It was so good I wished that our tickets did not work and we had to stay. Even now I wish I was there. For all those people who read the entire story. CONGRATULATIONS 🥳. You are a star. Overall, the trip was just too perfect. I don’t want to visit anywhere else and I just want to live there for the rest of my life. You should definitely visit the mystical place called El Salvador.

Esperanza renace escrito por Pam Muñoz Ryan

Sabes cuándo un libro está escrito originalmente en español, y “Esperanza renace” es uno de los mejores. “Esperanza renace” fue escrito por Pam Muñoz Ryan y está en clases de inmersión de quinto grado alrededor del mundo. “Esperanza renace” se enfoca sobre una niña de 13 años y su viaje a los Estados Unidos y a una nueva vida. En el comienzo del cuento, Esperanza vive con su mamá, su papá y su abuelita en El Rancho de las Rosas. Tiene sirvientes magníficos y campesinos lindos, incluyendo sus amigos Hortensia, Alfonso y Miguel. Su vida es perfecta. Desafortunadamente, todas las cosas buenas van a llegar a su fin. Como un tiburón, bandidos mataron a su papá y su vida quebró.

Sus tíos tienen derechos a su propiedad y cuando su mamá dice que no se va a casar con su tío Luis, él quema su casa y las mujeres no tienen un hogar. Con la ayuda de Miguel, Hortensia y Alfonso, Esperanza y su mamá viajan a California para trabajar. “Esperanza renace” es un libro escrito con amor y belleza, quisiera nunca parar de leerlo. Este libro es perfecto como una rosa, brillante, muy bonito y con mucho amor.

Esperanza renace (Esperanza Rising) by Pam Muñoz Ryan is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby. English versions are available from the Mission Viejo Library or Libby.

The Great Hibernation by Tara Dairman

What would you do if your parents suddenly fell asleep and you could not wake them up?  Now personally, I would probably cry for half an hour than get up, watch TV and cook brownies from a box (the batter is the best). But thankfully that has not happened to my parents, unfortunately that did happen to the fair children of St. Polonius-by-the-Fjord. After eating the traditional bear liver, the parents and everybody over the age of 12 years, 4 months and 6 days, fell into a deep sleep. Immediately the mayor’s son took control and had every child take over their parents job, appointments and basically life. Jean Hubby, the main character and awesome older sister, and her little brother Micah suddenly live their parents’ lives. When Jean goes to the storage room to find some food, her job was working in a restaurant (it was not her mother’s job, find out why in the book), she stumbles across something that explains the Great Hibernation. Once again Tara Dairman wrote a treasure that had me whipping each page. Not only did she show diverse and hilarious characters, she incorporated real problems that people face every day. This book is a great read that I loved. I recommend this book to anybody and everybody. 

The Great Hibernation  by Tara Dairman is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

One of my favorite books by far, Jara Dairman did an excellent job on her amazing book, All Four Stars. Jara’s spectacular book is about a young chef named Gladys. Gladys is a near perfect chef except for one thing, she is not allowed to cook. After a… misfortunate incident with a blowtorch, crème brûlée and her family’s curtains, her parents banned her from the kitchen. In this beautiful book, we follow Gladys as she adventures through life without cooking, trying to survive the 6th grade, making new friends and even writing gourmet reviews for New York’s most important newspaper, the New York Standard.

The mouth watering descriptions of food and spunky personalities in this book get people off the couch to make fancy pastries and leave us erupting in fits of laughter. With each chapter I felt more and more connected to Gladys up to the point I read a sentence in first person on accident! In conclusion, All Four Stars is a spectacular book that should be in every young chefs, or food lovers, hands. Don’t forget to read the rest in this marvelous series.

-Isa M.

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.