iRead features the best ebooks and eaudiobooks for children and teens curated by the Children's Room and Teen Center staff.
The Tía Lola Stories Series by Julia Alvarez
A touchstone series of cultural identity for middle grade readers, these novels center around 11-year-old Miguel Guzman and his sister Juanita, who move from New York City to Vermont with their recently divorced mother. His flamboyant tía Lola arrives just as he’s trying to fit into a mostly white farming community. But her charm and cooking enthrall the family and neighbors, and teach them much about life, family, the Latinx culture, and community. Tía Lola brings everyone and everything together.
Book One | How Tía Lola Came to (Visit) Stay
Here we meet Miguel, Juanita, and their mami, who has secured a new job at the local college. Mami calls upon tía Lola, who arrives from the Dominican Republic to help out. Miguel is far from enthusiastic about tía Lola’s arrival, as he tries to fit into this new, mostly white community, because his aunt is far from shy. Her flamboyance embarrasses him at first, and he worries people will not like or understand her since she speaks no English. But tía Lola quickly makes friends with everyone she meets, and as that happens, Miguel slowly come to love and appreciate her, as he helps her garden, cook, and even paint the house purple.
Tía Lola is asked to volunteer to teach Spanish at Miguel and Juanita’s elementary school, but Miguel is not so certain about this new arrangement. Plus, he’s learned that his father, who still lives in New York City, has a new girlfriend and an announcement on the way. Juanita, on the other hand, can’t wait for tía Lola to start teaching, and fully embraces tía Lola’s ideas for a Spanish treasure hunt and carnival fiesta. Meanwhile, tía Lola has lived in Vermont for a full year, and imbues all manner of fun and cultural tolerance in the school and small community.
Things heat up in this third installment as Miguel’s mother agrees to welcome a father, his three daughters, and their dog to live with them as they try to decide whether to move permanently to Vermont. Meanwhile, tía Lola has all sorts of summer plans for everyone, including starting a camp for Miquel, Juanita, and the three visiting girls, filled with everything from campfires to swords to treasure hunts at night. As usual, tía Lola leaves no time for boredom!
In this fourth and final volume, school has started and Victor Espada and his three daughters have permanently moved to Vermont, sharing a house with an ornery but likeable Colonel Charlebois. Meanwhile, Miguel, Juanita, their mami and tía Lola continue to live out in the country, and all five children see each other often. This is due to tía Lola’s determination to help Mr. Espada find a real job. The solution? Turn the Colonel’s house into a bed and breakfast! Perfect ending, right? Wrong! Someone in town is very unhappy with this arrangement, and mystery ensues as strange things begin happening at the house. As usual, tía Lola in her Mary Poppins fashion, comes to the rescue, bringing to light the value of acceptance and community, peppered throughout with Spanish phrases which require no glossary, and a lasting theme of the meaning of books and libraries in all of our lives.
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