Review Detail

Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A

Summer adventures in Florida

Arturo lives in a very close knit community-- his family owns an apartment building, and his family, his grandmother, and most of his aunts and uncles live there. This summer, even a friend of his mother's is staying at the complex with his daughter, Carmen, to regroup after the death of Carmen's mother. Arturo is oddly drawn to her, but reminds himself that she is practically his cousin! There's a lot going on in his abuela's restaurant, La Cocina de la Isla, where his mother is the head chef. Not onlky does Arturo have a job as a junior dishwasher, but the family is trying to expand the place in order to do more business. The only problem? The slick Wilfrido Pipo comes to Canal Grove and wants to put up Pipo Place. This new apartment building will have it all, and Wilfrido is trying to get community buy in by having lots of parties and promising to increase business to the area. The problem? His plan involves tearing down abuela's restaurant! The family goes all out to save it, but will it be enough to appeal to Canal Grove's sense of family? And will Arturo be able to talk to Carmen without too many "epic fails"?

Good Points

Weaving in some Spanish vocabulary, this warm tale of family, food and friends is a delightful change from the standard tales of gloom and doom coming out for middle grade readers. I loved that the Zamoras were able to work together without too much family drama, and that their community valued their contributions. While there were some sad things (the death of Carmen's mother before the book opens, and another death during it), they were handled with resilience and pragmatism. No one becomes inconsolable and unable to function, which I thought was much more realistic. There is even a scene where Arturo's mother asks him to help with the funeral dinner-- she cries over her loss but is able to go on, even using the cooking to bond with Arturo and help him through the situation, instead of being unable to care for him. We need to see more of these coping skills in middle grade literature!

There is an interesting sub plot involving Arturo's growing interest in poetry which ties into his discovery of Carmen as a girl instead of a "cousin" that will intrigue readers, and perhaps get them to investigate the work of Jose Marti. This was another instance of bringing a more hopeful tone to the story-- Arturo's grandfather was fond of Marti's work, and Arturo gets to know more about his deceased grandfather through reading journals he had kept when he moved to the US.

While the family's Cuban heritage is vividly portrayed, it is integral to the story instead of being the main focus. Family, and the family business, figures largely, and Arturo's teenage concerns are paramount. Will he be taken seriously as a dishwasher? Can he care for his abuela? What will happen to his family if the restaurant goes under? Does Carment like him? Readers will identify with these concerns while having a window into what it would be like to live in a close knit Florida community.

Fans of Johnson's The Great Green Heist, Grabenstein's Wonderland Motel series, and Paul Acampora's books about the adventures of middle grade boys will gobble up The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora... and probably get hungry for churros while reading this humorous and insightful tale.
Was this review helpful to you? 

Comments

 
 
Ordering 
 
Already have an account? or Create an account
 
 
 
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

My Weird School Fast Facts: Explorers, Presidents, and Toilets
Think fast with A.J. and Andrea from My Weird School!...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
My Weird School Fast Facts: Space, Humans, and Farts
Think fast with A.J. and Andrea from My Weird School!...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
I am Alex Hunt, daughter of the famous Archaeological Hunt...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Twelve-year-old Simon Barnacle is falling apart. Literally. His body is...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Serafina and the Splintered Heart
The storms are coming... Something has happened to Serafina. She...
 
0.0
 
5.0 (1)
The Little Book of Little Activists
A celebration of political activism by America's youngest citizens--our children....
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Together at Midnight
What does it really mean to be kind . ....
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
Fuecho Y Pablo
Pablo's attempt to get his best friend Ugly Cat a...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Little i
A charming, suspenseful, and wholly original picture book about the...
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Dragonfly Song
The girl has had many selves in her short life....
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Project Semicolon: Your Story Isn't Over
For fans of PostSecret, Humans of New York, and If...
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress #1)
An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend...
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
Murder Among the Stars
After being framed for attempted murder, Lulu Kelly has...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
Christmas Stories
Join the original pioneer girl in this Little House chapter...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Somebody's Baby
Ever since Sloan won a reality singing competition, her...
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Enhanced
Seventeen-year-old Mana has found and rescued her mother, but...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)

Latest Member Reviews

Pig the Elf
 
4.0
"PIG THE ELF is about a dog named Pig who loves Christmas, but it isn't for the spirit or joy...."
Mean Girls
 
4.0
"MEAN GIRLS (2004), the cult film phenomenon starring Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried, and Tina Fey, is now a..."
Robin's Guide to Being Cool(er)
 
5.0
"This book is everything you don't expect it to be. Funny. Heart-warming. Educational. All wrapped up on one entertaining package...."
Monster Notebook: A Branches Special Edition (The Notebook of Doom)
 
5.0
"The Monster Notebook belongs to Alexander Bopp. He's the leader of the Super Secret Monster Patrol, also known as S.S.M.P...."
My Twinkly Tiaras
 
5.0
"This kit is genius! What do little girls love more than princesses? Not many things. At all. And..."
My Hand Art
 
4.0
"Cute and fun way to spend time with little ones. You see it in the classroom all the..."
Sugar and Spice (Whatever After #10)
 
4.0
"Abby is having a bad day-- she and her brother Jonah break a lamp playing duckball in the house, they..."
The Mysterious Moonstone (Key Hunters #1)
 
5.0
"The KEY HUNTERS series kicks off with a mystery surrounding a stolen priceless diamond. The story opens with Cleo and..."
Touch and Feel Dinos
 
4.0
"TOUCH AND FEEL DINOS has already been read several times to my nephew. He absolutely loves touching the bumpy scales..."
Play Time for Peppa and George (Peppa Pig)
 
4.0
"PLAYTIME FOR PEPPA AND GEORGE is an adorable story of Peppa and her brother George. George does not want to..."
Use The Force! (LEGO Star Wars: Activity Book)
 
4.5
"Once again LEGO and Star Wars team up to bring young fans a stellar activity book experience. Centering around..."
R2-D2 to the Rescue! (LEGO Star Wars: Chapter Book)
 
4.0
"LEGO and Star Wars team up for a beginner chapter book experience that takes some cheeky and entertaining liberties with..."
LEGO POP-UP
 
5.0
"A masterpiece of folded paper engineering, loaded with a wealth of interesting LEGO history and facts. From its..."
LEGO Knights & Castles
 
4.0
"LEGO continues its tried and true tactic of combining real world pictures and period art with their cell-shaded cartoon figures,..."
Cleonardo: The Little Inventor
 
4.0
"The first thing I noticed was the clever use of family names in the portraits of Cleonardo’s home. Neandernardo, Sapphonardo,..."
The Gathering: Shadow House Book 1
 
4.5
"I must say this is one of the most beautifully designed books I’ve seen in a long time. The illustrations..."
Face Off (LEGO Star Wars)
 
4.0
"The sarcasm is strong with this one. This format will likely hold the most appeal for young video game..."
Yo-Kai Watch: Official Guide
 
5.0
"All fans of the Yo-Kai Watch world must have this great guide to the world of yo-kai! A..."
LEGO Planets: A LEGO Adventure In The Real World
 
4.0
"In this informative introductory guide, LEGO borrows heavily from NASA images and taps a comic-style to walk kids through our..."
Carnival Capers! (LEGO DC Super Heroes: Reader)
 
5.0
"Once again LEGO and DC deliver with this simple-yet-valuable storyline, featuring beloved characters and stylized artwork. The Teen Titans..."