Gaby, Lost and Found

224p. Scholastic. Aug. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-545-48945-4. ebook available.
Gr 5–8—When Gaby Ramirez Howard's mother is deported back to Honduras, the sixth-grader's life is anything but stable. Her father often forgets to purchase food, but worse, neglects his daughter emotionally. She is an outcast at St. Ann's where classmates tease her about her family life. With everything falling apart, the protagonist finds strength and self-confidence in the class service project at their local animal shelter. She showcases her writing skills, creating individual profiles for each animal. Although her life parallels many of the abandoned pets, Gaby takes on the role of protector and defender. Her profiles and hard work help many animals find a new home and a true family, something that Gaby is lacking. The plot and tone are spiced with Spanish words along with tidbits of Honduran culture. The author humanizes the controversial issue of illegal immigration and paints an emotionally compelling story. The short chapters and simple plot will keep readers engaged. Kids will be initially attracted by the animal-shelter theme but ultimately maintain interest due to Gaby's absorbing story. The novel provides a glimpse into the lives of young people growing up in modern society, and is a welcome addition to middle-school collections.—Mary-Brook J. Townsend, The McGillis School, Salt Lake City, UT

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