Black Rose. Sept. 2020. 142p. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781684335237.
Gr 3-6–Set in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Southern Spain, the story centers on Alicia Catalina Cortés, a heifer calf, who dreams of taking part in the encierro, the running of the bulls festival in Pamplona, and Diego Del Toro, a Spanish bull who yearns to be in a Texas rodeo. Alicia’s overbearing father, who is one of the rare bulls to survive the festival, enforces gender stereotypes and tells her she needs to start acting like a cow. He offers her hand in marriage to the brutish Don Julian Hernandez, threatening her aspirations. When Diego Del Toro is chosen for the encierro, Alicia decides to trade places with him. Each of them will learn the true cost of fulfilling their dreams. Avner describes the running of the bulls festival in great detail. The text does rely on clichéd language at times, and the ubiquity of enforced gender roles may alienate readers.
VERDICT A unique spin on the classic “trading places” tale.

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