Rummanah Aasi
Description: Emilia Torres has a wandering mind. It's hard for her to follow along at school, and sometimes she forgets to do what her mom or abuela asks. But she remembers what matters: a time when her family was whole and home made sense. When Dad returns from deployment, Emilia expects that her life will get back to normal. Instead, it unravels.
   Dad shuts himself in the back stall of their family's auto shop to work on an old car. Emilia peeks in on him daily, mesmerized by his welder. One day, Dad calls Emilia over. Then, he teaches her how to weld. And over time, flickers of her old dad reappear. But as Emilia finds a way to repair the relationship with her father at home, her community ruptures with some of her classmates, like her best friend, Gus, at the center of the conflict.

Review:  I have enjoyed every book by Pablo Cartaya thus far and Each Tiny Spark is no exception. This time Cartaya has been inspired by his own daughter and created a story that centers around a young Latinx girl named Emilia Rosa Torres. Emilia has inattentive type ADHD, which causes her trouble in keeping up with schoolwork and concentrating on one thing at a time, but her software-developer mother and super involved abuelita help her keep on task. Days before her father’s return to their Atlanta suburb from his most recent deployment, her mother goes on a business trip, leaving Emilia with her distant father and her abuela to take care of her. She struggles to juggle and understand her father's mood swings, her friend troubles, and her looming assignments all on her own. When a social studies project which debates whether or not students from a poor school be allowed to go to her school opens Emilia's eyes to injustices past and present, Emilia begins to find her voice and use it to make an impact on her community.
  Each Tiny Spark tackles tough subjects such as immigration, PTSD, and microaggressions sensitively and appropriately through the lens of a budding tinkerer and activist. Conversations on race and gender crop up through the narrative as Emilia’s grandmother likes to emphasize her family’s European heritage while her mother insists of celebrating her culture's Yoruba's roots. All of these larger issues are effortlessly woven in with skill and humor, as is the Spanish her family easily mixes with English. Emilia often doesn't understand the complex questions that surround her, but she asks insightful questions which is important for young readers to understand. This is another great realistic fiction book from Cartaya that will spark discussion, help build empathy, and offer a lot of food for thought after the last page.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 4 and up.

If you like this book try: Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
1 Response
  1. This sounds so good! What important issues and it seems that they are handled with sensitivity and reality as they should be.

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