What the Jaguar Told Her

Levine Querido. Oct. 2022. 416p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781646141753.
Gr 6-9–After her mom is offered a big opportunity with CNN, Jade, her parents, and her little sister, Katerina, make the move from Chicago to Atlanta, leaving behind home and everything Jade loved about it. Entering eighth grade, Jade starts a new school and begins to make new friends while also taking on the responsibility of walking Katerina to and from school on a beautiful wooded path behind their home. It is on this path that Jade meets Itztli, who first appears as a jaguar and then as an elderly man, who shares stories of their shared Mexican ancestry. These tales inspire Jade to rediscover where she is from and share her own stories through her art. She grows more confident in herself while struggling with her abuela’s illness, the tragedy of September 11, and the changed world it brought. With lush language and and excellent structure, this novel captures the beauty of family, stories, changes—many magical—that come with growing up. Also worked into the narrative are the usual pangs of adolescence, such as friendships, crushes, and—makeup.
VERDICT Taking readers back to 2001, this debut novel of magical realism presents an exquisite exploration of Mexican storytelling and a girl’s coming-of-age as she learns to trust herself and find her way through her family’s history.

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