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Gaby, Lost and Found Hardcover – July 30, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8–When Gaby Ramirez Howard's mother is deported back to Honduras, the sixth-grader's life is anything but stable. Her father often forgets to purchase food, but worse, neglects his daughter emotionally. She is an outcast at St. Ann's where classmates tease her about her family life. With everything falling apart, the protagonist finds strength and self-confidence in the class service project at their local animal shelter. She showcases her writing skills, creating individual profiles for each animal. Although her life parallels many of the abandoned pets, Gaby takes on the role of protector and defender. Her profiles and hard work help many animals find a new home and a true family, something that Gaby is lacking. The plot and tone are spiced with Spanish words along with tidbits of Honduran culture. The author humanizes the controversial issue of illegal immigration and paints an emotionally compelling story. The short chapters and simple plot will keep readers engaged. Kids will be initially attracted by the animal-shelter theme but ultimately maintain interest due to Gaby's absorbing story. The novel provides a glimpse into the lives of young people growing up in modern society, and is a welcome addition to middle-school collections.–Mary-Brook J. Townsend, The McGillis School, Salt Lake City, UTα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gaby’s mom, an undocumented immigrant from Honduras, was swiftly deported after her factory was raided. Now Gaby clings to the notion that her mother is on the way home to her again. Meanwhile, she tries to navigate life with her newly custodial dad, who had left the family years before, and face down a couple of classmates who taunt her over the deportation. On a happier note, Gaby enjoys the support of many others from the school community, and she derives immense satisfaction from her class-service project with the local animal shelter. She identifies with the pets’ abandonment issues and writes them up in individual profiles guaranteed to melt hearts and pull readers in. Cervantes tackles immigration issues bluntly in this affecting novel. Youngsters will feel Gaby’s despair as she ponders her mother’s options and the possibility of their future together. No sugarcoated or quick-fix endings exist in this politically sensitive coming-of-age story, a thought-provoking look at the human face of immigration policy. Grades 4-7. --Anne OMalley
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Top Customer Reviews
Recently, we hosted author Angela Cervantes, via Skype, at our elementary school. Our 4th grade students read her book, Gaby, Lost and Found, ahead of time to prepare for this virtual visit. Our experience was beyond expectation. Ms. Cervantes is throughly professional and extremely personable. Her love of the writing process and sharing that process with students was evident from start to finish. Ms. Cervantes started with a slide show about her life and work, and spoke about how personal experiences influence her writing. She made the presentation interactive by asking students to read passages aloud from her book and encouraged questions from the audience. Ms. Cervantes answered each student question thoughtfully and although our Skype session was supposed to last 30 minutes, she ensured every student with a question had a chance to ask it, bringing our session closer to 40 minutes. If you are looking for a way to incorporate a virtual author visit into your school's reading program, Angela Cervantes is a terrific choice.
Without her mom around, the house just doesn't feel like home. Gaby's father, who split from her mom a few years back, re-entered the scene when her mom was taken away. He's no longer as happy nor as comforting as Gaby remembers him: now he's always grumpy, and when he's not at work, he's complaining about the people at work. The following line is just one of many that nails Gaby's situation and will break your heart:
Maybe once upon a time he had wanted a daughter, but now he looked at Gaby like she was just another job he wanted to quit. - Page 110
Lucky, Gaby finds solace in her best friend, Alma Gomez, and her family, who warmly and regularly welcome Gaby at their house. Bold, bossy Alma has no problem standing up to girls at school who make fun of Gaby's mom, and Alma's parents help keep Gaby fed and safe after school and on weekends, whenever she needs them.
When her sixth-grade class begins volunteering at the local no-kill animal shelter, Gaby feels an immediate connection to Feather, a fragile little cat who was abandoned by her owners. Gaby considers herself to be a stray, just like Feather, in need of a stable home. She yearns to adopt the striped kitty, and though her mom would have allowed it, she knows her father won't. She becomes the "shelter scribe," writing personalized (purrsonalized!) ads about the cats and dogs that are up for adoption and putting the flyers around town in an effort to find the critters their "forever homes." She also bonds with the vet, Dr. V, whose boisterous spirit fills the shelter and makes it a fun place to be.
When something not-so-good happens and Gaby has the opportunity to take Feather, how can she resist? And will Gaby's mom ever make it back home?
Gaby, Lost and Found by Angela Cervantes will tug at your heartstrings. The writing is simply honest, especially in scenes with Gaby, Alma, and their friends, or moments when Gaby's trying to figure out what she should do. The plot will appeal to kids, and the steady pacing will keep them reading. Give it to future veterinarians and humanitarians, and don't be afraid to let it start a conversation about immigration as well as different kinds of jobs and different family situations. It's important that kids see themselves in stories, be they books, TV shows, movies, or songs. It's also important that kids whose families are more fortunate than Gaby's learn to appreciate what they have and respect that not all households may be like theirs. Additionally, I hope the story will encourage kids to seek out volunteer opportunities in their community, to report bullying in their schools, and to accept responsibility for their actions. Recommended for ages 8 and up.