As someone who didn’t grow up reading like I do now, I often take my time to revisit the middle grade section of the bookstore or library. There is just something about middle grade that makes it adventurous even if it isn’t an adventure story per se!
Stories about little Latinx kids makes me jump at the chance to read, so when I saw this in the publishers catalogue, I knew I had to read it!
Hatchette Book Group CA was nice enough to send me an advanced copy of this, so my gratitude goes out to them!
Flor and Miranda Steal the Show by Jennifer Torres
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Pub Date: June 12th, 2018
Price: $12.99 CAD
Enjoy carnival rides and deep fried pickles in this warm, funny middle grade novel about family and friendship.
Miranda is the lead singer in her family’s musical band, Miranda y Los Reyes. Her family has worked hard performing at festivals and quinceañeras. Now, they have a shot at the main stage. How will Miranda make it a performance to remember?
Flor’s family runs the petting zoo at Mr. Barsetti’s carnival. When she accidentally overhears Mr. Barsetti and Miranda’s dad talk about cutting the zoo to accommodate Miranda y Los Reyes’s main stage salary, she knows she has to take action. Will she have the heart for sabotage once she and Miranda actually start to become friends?
*I am reviewing an ARC provided by the publisher which does not affect my opinion.*
This book was everything I expected it to be and a little bit more. I absolutely adore carnivals, and although I haven’t been to one in a while, reading this book made me want to go to one this summer! Just like a carnival, this book was fun, light, and easy. It was full of great people and greasy food! Plus I have never related to the family so hard!
What I Liked:
They were all so saucy!!! I loved it!! Flor is a character I was immediately drawn to. Her spunk and passion for her family’s petting zoo is adorable and admirable. She is willing to do everything she can if it means saving her family’s business and staying in the one place that truly feels like home. Then there is Miranda who at first I was a little meh towards but as the story gets deeper, I begin to understand her a lot more. Especially with her desire to have everyone like her or at least not think she is a bad person. I understand it. Miranda is also very passionate though a little too hesitant to take hold of her own choices. I’m not saying she is a push over, but she has been quite pushed over. This story explores her venture into taking even just a bit of control of her own decisions and the length she is willing to go to make them. In the end, I related to her a lot especially with her struggle to get the right Spanish accent! XD
Both girls are intelligent and funny. They have their flaws, fears and triumphs and I really enjoyed reading both of their perspectives.
The story is quite easy to follow and very entertaining. The whole books spans a matter of hours and many things happen in between. I liked Flor’s story and her plan to take down Miranda by pretending to befriend and trick her into missing her show. It was a devilish act and nothing goes according to plan, but she doesn’t give up. Miranda’s story was also fun. As she falls for Flor’s tricks, she is making her own plans to be free of her father’s planning and learning the ways of the carnival. Both stories interlace quite nicely, but I do feel there was just a bit more emphasis on Flor’s arc.
I loved the carnival setting. I have to hand it to Torres, she knew exactly how to invoke all the feelings of the carnival. From the stands of delicious food, to the games to the rides and let’s not forget the sweltering heat! I have been to quite a few carnivals in my time and the fictional one in this book had all the essentials! It was so much fun exploring the grounds with Flor and Miranda, and I couldn’t help but feel like I was there at the fair with them!
The Family/Cultural Values:
If there is one thing you can get out of this book, it is how important family is. Both girls come from Latinx families and while they have their differences, they are quite similar. Both girls’ families struggle with money, a very important motif in the story. It is the centre of everyone’s worry and yet it is what brought both girls together (sort of). Money may not be the most important thing in the world, but it definitely is hard to live without.
I also liked that it showed the general structure of a Latinx family. Both had the head patriarch followed by the mom and then the kids. The patriarch was the one in charge of making sure the family had enough money to live and they are the ones who make all the big decisions (Which isn’t always the best thing.) Obviously, neither family is perfect and this book does a wonderful job of exploring that despite their imperfections, family is always #1.
Relate. Relate. Relate.:
On top of this book having a great portrayal of Latinx family structure, the way they act and behave was sooo relatable. When Latinx people go anywhere, we are literally not willing to spend a penny on something we can easily get at home. At least that is how it was when I was growing up. When I used to go to the carnivals, we would get a free pizza lunch and free ride-all-day passes as part of the package we got to enter the fair. And that was it. Dinner was packed by my mother, we brought our own water and snacks. No one was allowed to waste money on those game stands or frozen drinks with the cool drinking straws. If I wanted a slushie, my dad offered to shave me ice and drench it in syrup when we got home. I have never seen anything like this written in a story, until now! AND I WAS HOWLING. When Miranda mentioned how her mom used to sneak snacks into stadiums/movies, I was just nodding and nodding. That was my entire childhood experience at the carnival. Have fun, enjoy, but don’t waste money on things we didn’t need.
It was the best.
What I Disliked:
I liked this book far too much to think of something that was not satisfactory. But if I have to be 100% honest, the ending was left really open. There wasn’t a clear resolution to any of the girls’ problems which I think was the intention. I would have liked some more clarity, but that’s just me.
Overall, this story was a breath of fresh air. It was light, fun and oh so fast. I finished it in one day and considering how slow of a reader I am, I’d say that’s an accomplishment. It has a great message about friendship and family. It has amazing characters and the whole carnival setting itself was so much fun, I ache to get to one myself this summer!
Rating: 5 / 5 Stars!
Recommend: Need a fast middle grade with some fun themes, I definitely say you should read this!
Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Have you ever attended a carnival? What is your favourite part about carnivals?