Fifth-grader Allie Velasco only wants one thing: to win first place at something. She’s tired of living in the spotlight of her extraordinary siblings whose trophies and awards line the family’s shelves. When her teacher announces the Kansas Trailblazer Contest and Allie discovers that there’s never been a winner from Sendak Elementary, she has a mission. She decides to create a photo essay paying tribute to her 91-year-old Bisabuelo (great-grandfather), a decorated WWII veteran. But when Sara, Allie’s former best friend, also decides to submit an entry about Allie’s Bisabuelo, Allie gets angry. Can Allie’s new friend, Victor help her get through this? And will she finally win first place?
My ten-year-old daughter read this book over the summer and enjoyed it. Reading this book as an adult, I enjoyed it as well. Allie is Mexican-American. While this is not important to the storyline, I’ve not read many books with Hispanic characters. I also enjoyed that Allie and Victor became good friends without any romantic implications. This book captures the realistic struggles of children this age navigating friendships, sibling jealousy and school achievement while teaching a great lesson.
MS – ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Nancy W.