The cover of this William Allen White Award nominee book caught my eye right away. The contrast of the gentle dog and the rusted cars in the junkyard tells a lot about the story of Zitlally. Zitlally lives in a rundown trailer with her illegal immigrant family. She’s accepted well at school if she acts just like her American friends. But when her father is deported, Zitlally doesn’t have the heart to pretend anymore. She withdraws into herself and stops speaking. Zitlally goes to the “forest” of junkyard cars next to her trailer when she wants to get away from it all. There she finds a miserably neglected white dog chained to a wrecked truck. Taking care of the dog somehow comforts her as she gradually wins its trust. The bond between Zitlally and the dog Star seems magical to her. In fact, it seems as though Star’s fate is mysteriously linked to the fate of Zitlally’s father. He’s been kidnapped trying to cross back into Arizona, and somehow her mother must raise $10,000 for his return. At just the same time, Star disappears too. Will Zitlally find Star? Will Zitlally’s father return safely? I think both storylines will be appealing to middle elementary students.
Brief glossaries of Nahuatl (Aztec) and Spanish words are included, along with the author’s views on immigration. Reviewed by Victoria.