Lalo Lespérance Never Forgot

Listening Library. Sept. 2023. 535p. $18. ISBN 9780593744376.
Gr 5-8–Eleven-year-old Lalo “liked being in lockdown.” COVID is horrible, but before the pandemic, “I was alone even though I was surrounded by a bunch of other kids at school.” Now he’s got Vivi and her grandmother Alita (short for Abuelita), his neighbors in their Florida apartment complex who share their internet for online classes. Alita’s magical stories about old Mexico are even more illuminating. What Lalo misses, though, is his memory—mainly anything to do with his missing father. Meanwhile, down in the parking lot is a mystery waiting to be solved: a stranger in a motor home who Lalo’s not-so-nice older brother insists is a robachico, a child-stealer.
VERDICT Relative audiobook newbie and Spanish-fluent Rocha is a thoughtful narrator, subtly spotlighting Lalo’s under-the-radar maturity. Rocha attentively reads rather than performs the various characters, but his compassionate, deliberate exposition is just the calm Lalo needs to be distinctly heard.

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