Canned and Crushed

canned-and-crushedBy Bibi Belford. Sky Pony Press, 2015. 192 pages. $14.99/hardcover; $9.99/eBook. Recommended for ages 8–12.

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This novel could serve as an introduction for a young reader to the world of the modern immigrant family. Things are difficult for the Zapote family, but they get infinitely worse when it is discovered that the younger sister of our main character, Sandro, must travel to Mexico for surgery. Sandro is a funny young man, who loves soccer, new vocabulary, and his family. His father is an undocumented worker and therefore cannot get a high-paying job in his profession. Sandro helps his father collect scrap metal for cash. When his younger sister does something inappropriate, Sandro becomes her reluctant accomplice. He is motivated by love and loyalty. Much of the plot revolves around his attempts to earn money to help pay for her surgery. He’s no angel though; part of the plan is to get a new bike for himself. And he totally misunderstands why the principal of his school is willing to go along with his recycling plan.

The book touches on many serious topics such as undocumented immigration, racism, recycling, and bullying. But the writing is so good and so humorous that most readers will just keep reading to discover how Sandro resolves these problems he has brought upon himself. A parent or teacher could use the book to spark a discussion of these weighty issues.

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