In her first middle-grade novel, award-winning picture book author and illustrator Angela Dominguez tells a heartwarming story based on her own experiences growing up Mexican-American.
Stella Diaz loves marine animals, especially her betta fish, Pancho. But Stella Diaz is not a betta fish. Betta fish like to be alone, while Stella loves spending time with her mom and brother and her best friend Jenny. Trouble is, Jenny is in another class this year, and Stella feels very lonely.
When a new boy arrives in Stella's class, she really wants to be his friend, but sometimes Stella accidentally speaks Spanish instead of English and pronounces words wrong, which makes her turn roja. Plus, she has to speak in front of her whole class for a big presentation at school! But she better get over her fears soon, because Stella Díaz has something to say!
Stella Díaz Has Something to Say introduces an infectiously charming new character with relatable writing and adorable black-and-white art throughout. Simple Spanish vocabulary is also integrated within the text, providing a bilingual element.
2019 Sid Fleischman Award winner
A 2019 Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) Notable Children's Book
A New York Public Library Best Book for Kids 2018
Top 10 Showstopper Favorite
One of Chicago Public Library's "Best of the Best Books 2018"
Picture book author-illustrator Dominguez (Sing, Don't Cry) moves into middle grade with the story of Stella Diaz, whose family moved to Chicago from Mexico City when she was a baby. Now in third grade, Stella doesn't always feel like she belongs, especially after she learns more about her resident status at school ("because of this green card, I'm an alien?"). Stella goes to speech therapy class to learn "how all the letters and words are supposed to sound in English," but she finds it hard to speak up, especially when new student Stanley arrives in school. Stanley is complimentary of Stella's artwork (one of her two passions, along with fish), but Stella feels extra shy around him. Drawing on her own childhood, Dominguez smoothly blends Spanish and English into the narration and dialogue, Stella's Mexican-American culture fully informs her perspective and family life, and chunky spot art helps establish the setting. Readers should easily relate to Stella, her struggle to use her voice, and the way she feels caught between worlds at school and at home. Ages 6-9. Agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt. (Jan.)Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
Gr 3-5—When Stella was a baby, her family moved from Mexico City to Arlington Heights, near Chicago, where Stella still lives with her divorced mother and supportive older brother. Stella struggles to pronounce English words and regularly attends speech therapy at school. She's not confident in her Spanish skills either; she never has the right words when her Mexican relatives visit. When Stella learns that she's an "alien" because she only has a green card, she wonders, "If I become a citizen, will I finally feel normal?" With the help of her family and friends, Stella learns to shine like the star she's named after as she deals with the class bully, survives her first spelling bee, and proudly aces her oral presentation. Realistic relationships ground this character-driven story; most notably, Stella's relationships with her loving mother and not-so-great, mostly absent father. School and home life feature prominently. Cultural markers, including food and music, are incorporated into the story just as naturally as the Spanish words explained in context. Dominguez's black-and-white spot illustrations are friendly and appealingly childlike, providing context and visual variety. According to the author's note, this story is "82.9 percent based" on Dominguez's childhood. Like Stella, Dominguez struggled with both languages, was born in Mexico, and had a Vietnamese best friend. VERDICT Fans of Clementine and Alvin Ho will be delighted to meet Stella. A first purchase.—Amy Seto Forrester, Denver Public LibraryCopyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
"Fans of Clementine and Alvin Ho will be delighted to meet Stella." —School Library Journal, starred review
"Drawing on her own childhood, Dominguez smoothly blends Spanish and English into the narration and dialogue, Stella's Mexican-American culture fully informs her perspective and family life, and chunky spot art helps establish the setting. Readers should easily relate to Stella, her struggle to use her voice, and the way she feels caught between worlds at school and at home." —Publishers Weekly
"Dominguez's novel introduces a character many readers can relate to, especially bilingual kids or English language learners who struggle with expressing themselves. An excellent, empowering addition to middle grade collections." —Booklist
"A nice and timely depiction of an immigrant child experience." —Kirkus Reviews
"Readers will agree with Stella's mother and brother that she is, as her name suggests, a star." —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Many readers will relate to and sympathize with the protagonist. Lively interspersed black-and-white illustrations showing elements of Stella's day-to-day life and of her imagination add dimension to a rich narrative." —Horn Book
"Stella Díaz Has Something to Say is delightfully rich, both humorous and sensitive at the same time. This is the story of a curious girl who longs to fit in, but also feels the need to be herself, learning how to speak up in two languages." —Margarita Engle, Young People's Poet Laureate
"Stella Díaz is a delight! Young readers will love the story of this shy, sweet, and very creative girl finding her voice." —Monica Brown, author of the Lola Levine series
"Shy yet spunky Stella speaks to feeling different, to conquering fears in order to make a new friend, and to learning that, like the starfish who shares her name—Estrella—she is stronger than she thinks." —Danielle Davis, author of Zinnia and the Bees
"An inspiring tale of self-discovery. Stella Diaz speaks for anyone who has struggled to juggle different sides of their identity. Which is, of course, all of us." —Minh Le, author of Let Me Finish!