Book Review: Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan

        Pam Muñoz Ryan’s Mañanaland tells the story of Maximiliano Córdoba. Eleven-year-old Max has lived without a mother for as long as he can remember. She left Max as a baby, and Max’s overprotective Papá refuses to say a word about her. Max tries to forget about his mother as he trains for the Santa Maria fútbol tryouts, but when Papá and Buelo reveal a tightly kept family secret, Max can’t stop wondering about who his mother was or why she left him. Max may know how to find the answers, but all he has is Buelo’s old stories and hope to guide him. 

        Pam Muñoz Ryan’s captivating writing creates beautiful illustrations to imagine.“Citrus orchards and grape fields bordered the outskirts of town. Nestled in the foothills on dirt roads, modest white stone cottages perched like patient doves at roost.” (5) “For me, one moment it was warm and syrupy, like a cinnamon pastel just from the oven. And the next, cool and smooth, like a rock pulled from the riverbed.” (48) Lines like these make you feel like you are looking at Santa Maria or experiencing a certain feeling. They help you picture Max’s journey and experiences, all while making Mañanaland a pleasure to read. 

        Readers who have experienced a parent keeping important secrets from them will enjoy Mañanaland. So will people who are fond of Pam Muñoz Ryan’s other books, including Esperanza Rising. Lastly, readers who like books with dependable characters who always have each other’s backs will appreciate this beautifully written novel.  

Book Review: The Class by Frances O’Roark Dowell

      The Class        The Class, b​y Frances O’Roark Dowell, tells the story of Mrs. Herrera’s class as they start their first year of middle school. Odd things begin to happen in Mrs. Herrera’s room, like the fact that someone has been stealing items off of Mrs. Herrera’s special shelf and that one student, Sam, isn’t really supposed to be a student at all. Ellie, a new sixth grader faces her own obstacles, like making new friends as she tries to find the answers to the questions that are troubling everyone. Will the missing objects be returned to Mrs. Herrera’s shelf? Most mysteriously, what’s up with Sam? Will Ellie be able to find the answers? 

        Although ​The Class ​is written from Ellie’s perspective multiple times you still get to hear from the rest of the students in Mrs. Herrera’s class. This way, you learn about what all of the students are facing and how they feel about the current events. Carson is deemed popular by his classmates but doesn’t understand why; Ariana is struggling to act nice; Becca is trying her hardest to become Mrs. Herrera’s favorite; Petra is sick of being bored by everything she sees. All of these perspectives make the book interesting and help hook you. They make you keep reading until all the questions you’re wondering are answered.

People who enjoy books that are written from multiple characters perspectives will enjoy The Class i​mmensely. So, will readers who enjoyed ​Wonder​. These novels both discuss all of the problems new middle school students face and the part of school that brings classmates together. Lastly, readers who love being hooked to a book and feeling as if they can’t be pulled away will enjoy ​The Class.