A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Lovely inclusion of poetry by Spanish and American poets illustrates the way poetry can help people wrap their minds around a situation. A section in the back highlights three poets and their contributions. Spanish words and phrases punctuate the text, as well as descriptions of Puerto Rican and Cuban cultural identifiers and ways of life.
For the traveler, there is no path, just the path you make by walking. Solutions can be found if you look for them. No matter what other people say or think, be true to yourself. Family is there to help. It is possible to move to a new place and still hold on to your culture. True friends can be found if you open your mind. Magic surrounds us.
Positive Role Models
Carolina's father is supportive but not always engaged. Her mother is critical of her, telling her, "Enough with the art," discouraging her from befriending an artistic girl, but does allow her to visit that friend when the kindhearted and influential Uncle Porter says it's OK. The women in Carolina's life are busy, engaged, caring, colorful, opinionated. Carolina and her family are from Puerto Rico. Her cousin, Gabriela, is half-Latina and half-White.
Violence & Scariness
Mention that a man died in the woods by falling off a ledge, which makes his widow fearful of kids veering off the trails.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Emma Otheguy's Silver Meadows Summer is about a tween's struggle to fit into a new town and a new culture. Eleven-year-old Carolina moves with her family from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to a small town in upstate New York. Her cousin Gabriela, 13, is half-Latina and half-White, which Carolina briefly believes is what people think is the "right" kind of Latina: lighter-skinned than Carolina. Gabriela struggles with a friend whose parents think that Latina teens "'get it' sooner," meaning "puberty" and "boobs."
Is It Any Good?
Fans of Latinx fiction might crave more Puerto Rican culture in this poignant story of tween friendship and adjusting to life in a new land. Though there's poetry in Silver Meadows Summer -- beautiful lines like "Caminante, no hay camino" ("Traveler, there is no path"), by Spanish poet Antonio Machado -- the person who delivers the lines, Carolina's Papi, drifts in and out of the story like a spirit. If Papi had helped Carolina find her own path, had been really engaged with her while she struggles to fit into the air-conditioned house in rural upstate New York, the poetry might find more life in the story.
Carolina's attraction to art inspires her to connect with a local girl named Jennifer, whose father is a painter. Caro finds herself enthralled by the artist, but he too drifts out of the picture, a missed opportunity. Kids will relate to Carolina's mother's urgent need to assimilate. But in this story, fitting in means whitewashing the culture shock that the family is feeling after the move. Caro and her father do steal a moment where they share a few words of Spanish, and Carolina helps make a fantastic Puerto Rican tooth fairy called the Ratoncito Pérez, which she sneaks under her brother's bed. Much of the food of the Caribbean, the stories, the colors are missing. But isn't that what happens when one moves? The old symbols, scents, memories, and music fade. If only that vibrancy made more of an appearance in this story before it slipped away.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.