Cruzita and the Mariacheros

Lerner. Apr. 2024. 248p. Tr$19.99. ISBN 9798765608500.
Gr 5-7–The summer before middle school is not going as Cruzita expected. Instead of preparing for the Rising Star Contest at Encore Island amusement park, she is stuck working in her family’s struggling bakery. Things go from bad to worse, when her mother tells her she can no longer listen to the CDs of 1990s boy bands and pop stars that she loves and must focus solely on work. In an effort to give her back some music, her grandmother enrolls her in mariachi lessons. As Cruzita attends the classes, she gains more than music; she finds friends and a newfound respect for her culture and family. Readers will empathize with Cruzita, who feels like she doesn’t quite fit in as a Mexican American who does not speak Spanish. The recent passing of her great-uncle, the only family member who understood her, has left Cruz and her family dealing with their grief in different ways. Readers will root for Cruzita to embrace her new love of her mariachi family and her attempts to save the family business. Back matter includes Cruzita’s CD playlist and questions for discussion.
VERDICT Mariachi, family, and pan dulce are the ingredients for this perfect middle grade novel. Highly recommended for all middle grade collections.

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