Mama has rented one of the bedrooms in their trailer to two guys who do drywalling and eleven-year-old Zitlally is looking for hope in a forest of old car parts nearby. At school she struggles with math worksheets and two girls who once were her friends but now laugh at her behind her back. Her world changed the day her father was arrested for speeding and was deported-deportado- back to Mexico.
Just outside the Forest View Mobile Home Park, Zitlally finds a dog. He's chained and thirsty and starving. She names him Star. Her own name means star in the language of the Aztecs. Armed with her ancient heritage, Zitlally is struggling with today. Slowly, she builds a friendship with Crystal, who lives with her mother and her mother's boyfriend in a trailer nearby. Crystal has an imaginative story to explain everything. Her father is off in Antarctica rather than holed up in a jail cell. The two girls turn to each other and begin to train Star. Then, word comes that Papa might be able to come back. He'll be making the journey with the help of the "coyotes" who charge $2,000 for the trip across the border. As Zitlally hears what is happening to Papa, she realizes that Star's journey and her father's journey are mirrors for each other. Star just might be her father's Spirit Animal. Then, Star disappears. Zitlally is on her own journey figuring out who she is and where her value lies.
160 pages 978-0385737920 Ages 8-12
Read alike: Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com
Zitlally's family is undocumented, and her father has just been arrested for speeding and deported back to Mexico. As her family waits for him to return—they’ve paid a coyote to guide him back across the border—they receive news that he and the coyote’s other charges have been kidnapped and are being held for ransom. Meanwhile, Zitlally and a new friend find a dog in the forest near their trailer park. They name it Star for the star-shaped patch over its eye. As time goes on, Zitlally starts to realize that Star is her father’s “spirit animal,” and that as long as Star is safe, her father will be also. But what will happen to Zitlally’s dad when Star disappears?--from the publisher