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The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora Hardcover – May 16, 2017
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Praise for The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya:
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"At turns funny, beautiful, and heartbreaking... engrossing."
—Booklist, starred review
"A vibrant debut novel about family, friendship, and community."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Pablo Cartaya's sensational debut is a love letter to boyhood, poetry, and family. Quite simply, this is the book I've been waiting for."
—Matt de la Peña, New York Times bestselling and Newbery Medal–winning author of The Last Stop on Market Street
"This story of hope will make you laugh, cry, sigh, and cheer for brave Arturo and his whole cool familia. Along the way, you'll end up hungry for Cuban food, ravenous for poetry, and determined to stand up to bullies who try to destroy communities. ¡Bravo!"
—Margarita Engle, Newbery Honor–winning author of The Surrender Tree
“In this story of family and community and the first blush of love, Pablo Cartaya weaves together a tenderness of poetry, food, and home. Our young hero Arturo reminds us of what counts in this life, and his story is a heart-song.”
—Kathi Appelt, Newbery Honor winner, National Book Award finalist, and New York Times bestselling author
“Arturo Zamora proves that words have the power to win some of the biggest fights. The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora is an epic success!”
—Christina Diaz Gonzalez, award-winning author of The Red Umbrella
About the Author
Pablo Cartaya has always been a hopeless romantic. In middle school he secretly loved reading Shakespeare’s sonnets (don’t tell anyone), and he once spent his allowance on roses for a girl he liked. He also wrote her eight poems. Bad ones. He’s been writing ever since. Pablo has worked in Cuban restaurants and the entertainment industry, and he graduated with an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. All of these experiences have helped him write stories that reflect his family, culture, and love of words. Pablo lives in Miami with his wife and two kids, surrounded by tías, tíos, cousins, and people who he calls cousins (but aren’t really his cousins). Learn more about Pablo at pablocartaya.com.
Top customer reviews
This book is about a Cuban-American family who own a restaurant and face a couple of big challenges. It is also about a young man who has his first major crush. It's really sweet.
I read this book over the course of four days while on vacation. The first part was rather difficult to get into because of descriptions (but they are important later) and the Spanish. I know very little Spanish, so I relied heavily on context clues which the author provided. I'm not sure a 10 year old has the reading capabilities to figure out those context clues or to work through the descriptions. Also, there is quite a bit of Spanish poetry, all translated, but poetry is hard for some kids and they might give up. That was the not-so-good news....
Now, let's get to the good news! This book was able to keep my attention! The characters are realistic and likable. You want them to succeed. It is heartbreaking in some parts, but there is plenty of foreshadowing so it doesn't sneak up on you. The book is a good way to get kids somewhat involved in history and poetry and Spanish. The story is well thought-out. At parts, it's like a movie is playing in your head. I enjoyed the story of Arturo and his first love. I enjoyed reading about the family at the restaurant and wonder what it's like to have a family that big and who eats together every week.
I will recommend this book to my friend with Cuban ancestry for herself and her children. It is very positive and sends a great message about caring about political matters and people. I will recommend it to my higher 5th grade readers, but I probably wouldn't expect them to read it until middle school, unless they were into poetry or spoke Spanish or had an immigrant background.
The cover art of the book also deserves congratulations. It is really great! I'm glad I read this book.
Thirteen-year-old Arturo Zamora is ready to take on summer vacation by storm. But a land developer brings new challenges to him and his family, as he tries to pursue a new high rise building, where Arturo's family restaurant stands. It's now up to Arturo, and his eclectic group of friends, to try and fight back, and save La Cocina.
What I love about Pablo Cartaya's novel, is that he writes with an absolute zest for his story. Cataya has mentioned before that he has breathed life into these characters inside and out for years, and his obvious affection for his crew is evident in every page. He paints a wonderful picture of what it's like to grow up in both ordinary and extraordinary circumstances, and what it means to be an awkward, likable teen, who is going through those circumstances, step-by-step.
Outside of the broad scope of the story, Cartaya's writing is a treat in it of itself. I don't often remark on the stylistic elements of a writer's work, but there's a certain melodic quality to his work, which helps invoke both Arturo's background, but also a genuine richness to the book.
All in all, Cartaya is one to watch. Highly recommend, full stop.
Arturo is a third-generation Cuban-American, and this story is about his family's legacy and whether he wants to stand up in his community to protect it.
Arturo is deeply close to his grandparents, especially his abuela, who is of failing health, and he spends much of his time helping her reminisce with letters and poetry of his departed abuelo, who was a huge fan of Jose Marti.
Almost with a nod to Kwame Alexander or Sherman Alexie, this book tackles culture and family and identity and young love, while blending in the power of poetry to connect to the heart.
And it's done so well.
My favorite aspect is the approach. I love Arturo's voice and the choice to write the book in Spanglish. It forces young readers to use their inferencing skills, but also highlights the culture...which is the core of the plot.
Spectacular. And the ending. I'm just going to say, it's perfect.