Reviews for Star in the Forest

Booklist Reviews 2010 February #1
*Starred Review* As in Francisco Jiménez's The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child (1997) and Pam MuƱoz Ryan's Esperanza Rising (2000), Resau's novel tells a child's migration story with simple immediacy. After her father is imprisoned in Colorado and then deported to Mexico as an illegal immigrant, lonely 11-year-old Zitlally befriends her neighbor and classmate, Crystal. Together, the girls care for Star, an abandoned dog they find chained up in their trailer-park "forest," made up of heaps of rusted car parts. Zitlally's stressed, angry mama works many jobs and sells the family's truck so that they can send PapĆ” money to pay border smugglers, who will help him try to return. Then PapĆ” is kidnapped and held for ransom, and Zitlally's illegal family cannot go to the police. Crystal's family is also in trouble: her father is in prison in the U.S., although she makes up wild stories about him working in Antarctica and Madagascar. Always true to Zitlally's viewpoint, the unaffected writing makes clear the anguish of illegals. The thematic parallels with the dog, also an illegal of sorts, are redundant; it's the family story, more than the pet plot, that will grab readers. A pronunciation guide, a glossary, and a note about immigration from Mexico to the U.S. close this unforgettable narrative of a girl's daily struggle to find a home. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
When her illegal-immigrant father is deported back to Mexico, eleven-year-old Zitlally withdraws. She slowly builds trust with outcast Crystal and with a pathetic chained-up dog that she names Star. This novel's topic, unusually gritty for its second- to fifth grade audience, springs from situations that illegal immigrants face daily. Resau gives her protagonist a lyrical voice and outlook. An author's note is included. Glos. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #2
When her illegal-immigrant father is deported back to Mexico right after her eleventh birthday, Zitlally withdraws, losing the American friends she had tried so hard to cultivate. Left to herself, she finds a pathetic chained-up dog, names him Star (the meaning of her own name), and slowly builds trust with him. She also finds a new friend in Crystal, an outcast at school because of her poor hygiene and her habit of spinning outrageous stories. Zitlally decides to overlook her lies, and the two work together to find Star when he disappears, not just because they love the dog but also because they feel his fate is tied to that of Zitlally's father, kidnapped on his journey back into the United States. This novel features unusually gritty topics for its intended audience of second- to fifth graders, but they are ones that spring from the type of situations that illegal Mexican immigrants face daily. Resau gives her protagonist a lyrical voice and outlook, as when the two girls pretend they can eat sunshine, but the shy Zitlally also develops courage when she must communicate in both English and Spanish with lots of people while searching for Star. The story is appended with a folktale about a magical forest and animal spirits, followed by a Spanish glossary, a few words in Nahuatl (the ancient Aztec language), and an author's note about immigration. Resau's good intentions overwhelm the book, but for some readers these will be outweighed by some beautifully written passages and the appeal of the dog story. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 March #1
When her father is deported, Zitlally, a Mexican girl living in Colorado, feels that her home is breaking into pieces, like the fractions she is studying at school. Her grades start falling, she cannot tell her friends the truth, her mother is always on the phone and she and her sisters are left to their own devices. Zitlally spends the afternoons in a cemetery of old car parts behind her family's mobile home. She calls this junkyard a forest, and, like the forests described in her father's folktales, it is magical. Resau introduces preteens to the drama that thousands of children of immigrants face in the United States: the fear of their parents' deportation. But she also brings in important cultural aspects of the Nahua and the Mixtec communities, like their belief in animal totems, as manifest in Zitlally's spiritual link to the little dog that she names Star. Zitlally's first-person narration effectively re-creates the ingenuous voice of an 11-year-old, infused with concern for her family. A story of friendship that will speak to children of different cultures. Nahualt and Spanish glossaries. (Fiction. 7-10) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2010 February

Gr 4-6--Seeking solace in a "forest" of abandoned car parts after her father's deportation, fifth-grader Zitlally befriends a small dog chained to a rusty truck hood and names him Star. Remembering the tales her Nahuatl-speaking Pap told her, she begins to think of the dog as his "spirit animal." If she can rescue Star, perhaps her father will return safely from Mexico. With her trailer-park neighbor and new friend Crystal, she nurtures and trains the dog, searching for him when he disappears and rescuing him when an injury threatens his life. The magical thinking that worked in Mexico when she was young and frightened by a dog bite works again to reunite her family. Once again, Resau has woven details of immigrant life into a compelling story. The focus is on the developing friendships, both between Zitlally and her previously ignored neighbor, and between the fearful youngster and the dog. Conversations between the two girls are believable and the details of their lives convincing. The first-person narrative moves steadily as Zitlally loses and then gradually recovers her voice and gains confidence. Vignette illustrations introduce the chapters. A version of Zitlally's father's spirit animal story, a note about immigration, and glossaries of Spanish and Nahuatl words are appended. This is a well-told and deeply satisfying read.--Kathleen Isaacs, Children's Literature Specialist, Pasadena, MD

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