I teach in a very diverse school, full of a range of ethnicities. I absolutely love the way these students are able to look at each other and notice more similarities among them than differences, but finding books that represent the different groups can sometimes be challenging. I always feel like we are in need of some books featuring Latino characters and have to look hard to find some books written at the elementary level for my students.
Laura Resau has written some YA novels that I have enjoyed, but I had not read anything written for elementary students until today when I enjoyed Star in the Forest. This book is not very long, preventing students from becoming overwhelmed by it. Zitlally is an immigrant child, sharing the story of her father's deportation to Mexico. She and Crystal, her neighbor, start a friendship and find a dog, Star, in a "forest" of rusty and old cars that they need to take care of. Crystal creates outlandish stories about her own father that Zitlally is able to recognize for the tales they are, as Crystal yearns for her father to get out of prison. Zitlally's own father is trying to come back to America and her mother is working many jobs in an attempt to earn money for his return. When he is kidnapped by the coyotes her mother hires to get him across the border Zitlally and her family must come up with even more money to ensure her father's safety.
I have already ordered this one for my school library, knowing that many of my students may have their own experiences about immigrating to the United States. Resau includes information at the novel's end about the process of immigration and asks for readers to engage on an online discussion about a way for the current practices to be changed. This is definitely a thought provoking book, appealing to many readers in my school.