A Sweet Story of Family and Friendships
In the middle grades novel ALLIE, FIRST AT LAST, Allie Velasco's family is full of winners. Her mom is an award-winning newscaster. Her older sister is a champion debater. Her brother is a soccer star. Her younger sister is an actress and model. And her great-grandfather (Bisabuelo) won the Congressional Medal of Honor.
All Allie wants is to be a winner herself--and to win back the best friend who ditched her.
As the story begins, Allie is feeling good about her chances in the elementary school science fair, but as she has come to expect, something goes wrong, and Allie's chance at the limelight is lost. The same night has her coming close to reconnecting with her former best friend, but that being snatched away from her as well. And so goes much of the story.
Allie's desire to win *something* drives the plot of of Angela Cervantes novel, and Allie (although a bit of a snot through much of the book) is a relatable character who will appeal to many 8+ year-old readers, especially those with siblings. Although Allie is the main character, her friend Victor and her bisabuelo are the real stars of the book. Victor--wise beyond his years with the voice of a forty-something--is the oldest of his family and he hopes to be the first to go to college and to be an example to his younger siblings. Bisabuelo is the grandfather figure we all want and some are lucky enough to have. He's a mentor and friend to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren and a friend to many. Both Victor and Bisabuelo appreciate Allie and her drive to be a winner, and both support her efforts to succeed while being instrumental in helping her learn some important life lessons.
While not a perfect book, ALLIE, FIRST AT LAST is a sweet one with a wonderful message. Hispanic readers will find characters to whom they can relate, but you don't have to be Hispanic to appreciate the characters, their struggles, and the story.
An honest look at sibling competition