Isabel in Bloom

Random/Wendy Lamb. Apr. 2024. 368p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593302712.
Gr 3-7–A touching novel in verse for middle grade readers. In 1999, Isabel is happily living in the Philippines with Lolo and Lola. She enjoys gardening with her grandparents and spending time with her two best friends, but one thing is missing—her mother. Five years ago, Isabel’s mother went to the United States to be a nanny in New York in hopes of making enough money for her family to have a better life. Now, it’s time for Isabel to leave the Philippines to meet her mother in California. But Isabel doesn’t want to leave the only home she’s ever known. After a long flight, Isabel finally reunites with her mother, but everything is unfamiliar. Her mom is always busy, and Isabel misses her country, her friends, and most of all, gardening with Lolo and Lola. Even with the sadness and uncertainty Isabel feels, she eventually finds things that feel like home. Respicio’s verse is powerful and will elicit a wide range of emotions in readers, especially those who have lived through something similar. She poetically incorporates the experiences and feelings immigrants may have when moving to a new country. Readers will relate to or learn a lot about Filipino culture. An author’s note with further information is included.
VERDICT A solid addition to libraries serving tweens.

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