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Star in the Forest

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  568 Ratings  ·  121 Reviews
Zitlally's family is undocumented, and her father has just been arrested for speeding and deported back to Mexico. As her family waits for him to return—they’ve paid a coyote to guide him back across the border—they receive news that he and the coyote’s other charges have been kidnapped and are being held for ransom. Meanwhile, Zitlally and a new friend find a dog in the f ...more
ebook, 160 pages
Published March 9th 2010 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (first published 2010)
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Jubilation Lee
All right.


On the one hand.

This is a young-reader-level look at illegal immigration, told in a fairly non-frightening way, with relatable characters and an adorable fuzzy dog.

Zitlally’s dad, on his way home for Zitlally’s birthday, is pulled over for speeding and summarily deported for being in the country illegally. Of course, everyone in Zitlally’s family is in the country illegally, except for her youngest sister, which makes it difficult for them to go through any sorts of official chann
maybe 3 1/2 stars. A short, accessible book that portrays some of the overwhelming challenges faced by undocumented immigrants living in U.S. Early in the story, 11-year-old Zitlally's father is pulled over for speeding. Because of his undocumented status, he is immediately deported to Mexico, leaving his wife and 3 daughters struggling to cope with life in their Colorado trailer. With her father absent, Zitlally finds comfort in an abandoned dog she discovers close to her home and spiritually l ...more
Jun 25, 2013 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My daughter bought this book at her school book fair and was thrilled to read it because she could relate to Zitlally's life as a child of a Mexican immigrant. She loved it and insisted that I read it too. The story line was sweet and gave a broad but innocent look at how immigration laws impact families in our country. I'm happy my daughter is interested in stories like her own father's and I'm even happier someone took this topic, even though illegal immigration is often thought of as taboo, a ...more
Oct 11, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zitlally's family is undocumented immigrants from Mexico. When Zitally was a young girl in Mexico, her father told her many stories their Mexican heritage including stories about 'spirit animals'. Zitlally life is turned upside down when her father is stopped for speeding and deported back to Mexico. After paying coyotes to bring her father back across the border, he is kidnapped and held for ransom.

Meanwhile, Zitlally finds a starving dog with a star on its head in a local junkyard. Along with
Zitlally's father is caught speeding by the police and because he is an illegal immigrant, he is deported back to Mexico. Zitlally and her family, except for her youngest sister, are illegal also. Zitlally is so upset that she stops talking at school and soon her best friends stop associating with her. Only Crystal, the girl who lives next door in their trailer park wants to be Zitlally's friend. Then one day, Zitlally and Crystal find a dog tied to a broken down truck in a junkyard near their t ...more
Jennifer Lavoie
Found this at my school's book fair and I'm so glad I picked it up. Initially I bought it for my readers who love animals. But this book is so much more than that. It can often be frustrating to find books with characters from other backgrounds in them, and even those that do often brush that to the side or mention only the good things about that characters heritage. In this book, Zitlally is an undocumented immigrant living with her family in Colorado when her father is pulled over for speeding ...more
Lori Redman
Star in the Forest tells the story of Zitlilly, an eleven year old girl living in Colorado whose father has just been deported back to Mexico. Her family (still consisting of a mother and two sisters) live in a trailer park and fear being deported as well. Zitlilly has grown accustomed to being popular and living well; but suddenly, living a life of secrets, she feels isolated and alone. It is only when Zitlilly finds a white dog in the forest that she begins to feel some hope, and even more sti ...more
Cindy Dobrez
Feb 21, 2010 Cindy Dobrez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A moving story of Zitlally, a young girl in Colorado, whose father is pulled over for speeding, found to be illegally in the U.S. and is jailed and then deported to Mexico. She finds a stray dog chained up in a local "forest" of an auto junkyard near her trailer park and befriends it, naming it Star for the black star marking on its white fur back. Besides providing her with some much needed diversion and comfort, the dog's fate seems to be wrapped up with her father's, perhaps as his special an ...more
My daughter chose this book from a book fair at her school and since it is well above her reading level, I read it to her. The author did a nice job of presenting the realities -- physical and emotional -- that illegal immigrants endure. She also wove in some lessons about friendship and school social hierarchy that was refreshingly clear of the preachy. In fact, this book could have been one giant Preach-o-Rama and it wasn't. Topically, it's not a book I would have gravitated to, but something ...more
May 21, 2015 Jena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a little sad if your the kind of person who likes the books that are really happy and prefect, and then something bad has to happen and things get even worse and then it starts to clear up. This book would be really good for any dog lovers and or people lover.
This heartfelt book would be a great addition to any 4-6 grade classroom. Zitally (Nahuatl), Estrella (Spanish), Star (English), no matter the language you speak, you can understand the plight of the main character. Zitally's father is deported when he was pulled over for a minor traffic violation. Zitally finds two unlikely friends who help her do what she can to get her father back.

I could not help but read the first page aloud to my class. This book is beautifully written and Zitally's uniqu
Marlene M Penner
2013-2014 Young Hoosier Award book. This is my first read from the new Young Hoosiers for 2013-2014. I chose this book because it deals with the immigration, illegal immigrants and deportation. A subject I don't feel like I take enough time to think about. The school I could potentially be working at next year is 50% Hispanic. I don't know what percentage are illegal but I have a feeling some of those kids are dealing with the very same issues Zitlally, the main character in the book is dealing ...more
Genre: Young Adult Novel / Realistic Fiction

This novel is about a Hispanic family that is here in the United States illegally. The father has been arrested for a speeding ticket and departed back to Mexico so the family pays a coyote to guide him back across the border but days go on and the family receives news that their father and some others have been kidnapped and are being held of ransom. Soon after the daughter finds a dog in the forest and names it Star. As time goes on, the daughter st
Lots here about family dynamics, friendship and class/economic and immigration issues.

Zitlally (Star in Aztec)'s father, an undocumented immigrant in Colorado, is stopped for speeding and then deported to Mexico. Her mother is so mad that she threatens not to send him the $$ to sneak back in (pay a coyote). Life in the trailer park gets more uncertain--they take boarders into their trailer.

Zitlally withdraws in school, and her friends think she's now boring--it was a lot of work to keep up with
Adam Donald
“Star in the Forest” starts out with Zitlally, the protagonist, having her father deported back home. After the deportation Zitlally is emotionally destroyed. She begins to stray away from her friends and withdraws within herself. Zitlally soon meets a large white dog that is tied to a broken down car in a dump. The dog is starving and for all appearances has been abandoned. Zitlally names the dog “Star” for a birthmark that he has. Zitlally starts feeding Star and nursing him back to health. Th ...more
Samantha Zimmerman
Zitlally’s family are illegal immigrants from Mexico who came to the US to have a better life. When Zitlally’s dad is arrested for speeding and deported back to Mexico, Zitlally begins to feel that everything in her life is falling apart. Her friends stop being her friends and her mom is working extra hours to pay for the bills. Though she ends up finding a dog that she names Star, in the junk yard by her house, and begins taking care of her with her new friend that she made in the trailer park. ...more
May 02, 2015 Devan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, children, t-l-307
A young girls father gets deported, on her birthday. She find a dog in the forest near her home with a start shape in his fur. She falls in love with this dog and ends up making a new friend as well. She believes the star on the dog and her father are connected. As the dog gets better, her father is closer to home. Soon the dog is happy and healthy, and her father returns home.
Star in the Forest followed a young girl whose father gets deported, and while dealing with it she mak
Mar 16, 2013 Lindsey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very well written children's book that touches on topics such as illegal immigration and animal cruelty through the eyes of the innocent main character. At times depressingly real, the high notes of friendship, love, and blue frosting kept the story light-hearted enough to leave me and kids grades 3-5 with a smile.
Jan 12, 2013 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
My 13th book for OBOB 2013. It had a very original plot and was interesting from beginning to end. Another book that I'm very glad the elementary age kids are encouraged to read. I honestly wish all ages were told to read it. It portrayed illegal aliens in a very real, personal way. This doesn't seem to be done very often.
Kris Patrick
I hesitated purchasing this YHBA nominee for my library because the cover looks as if it's from 1992, but now I feel bad because it's a super sweet story.I'll probably spin as a dog tale to students though I secretly want them to hear Zitlally's family story of being an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. Potential read aloud
May 11, 2016 Hailey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this story was good. I loved the plot in the story and how it makes readers feel with Zitally in the story. The story draws you in with how Zitally's father gets deported and she goes over the memories her and her father had together. You start to see how when she finds Star it makes her happy and she starts to feel better. The story is a heartwarming tale of a girl and a dog that may or may be the spirit animal of her father. So this story really kept me interested with something bett ...more
Angelina DeVoe
May 12, 2016 Angelina DeVoe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The plot in this story is amazing, especially how it can make the reader really visualize what's going on. The story draws you in with how Zitally's father gets deported and she goes over the memories she and her father had together. You start to see how when she finds Star it makes her happy and she starts to feel better. The story is a heartwarming tale of a girl and a dog that may or may be the spirit animal of her father. So this story really kept me interested with something better on every ...more
NewFranklin School
Jun 30, 2010 NewFranklin School rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ms-patterson
Would make a great classroom book club book for grade 4 or 5. Lots of depth to the characters with enough going on to have great discussion. Themes of illegal immigration done very respectfully. - Ms. Patterson
Kristen Jorgensen
A charming story about a girl who's father gets deported. This is an excellent book to discuss with children as it contains current events that are being delt with in the U.S.A.
Shortly after Zitlally's Papá is deported to Mexico, she discovers a dog tied up to a rusty truck near her trailer park. She names the dog for the star shape on the dog's head, and she and friend Crystal feed and care for the apparently abandoned dog. When they discover the dog missing just before her father is kidnapped trying to cross back into the U.S., Zitlally realizes that as the dog goes, so goes her father, and finding Star safe and sound is crucial to getting her father back. Illegal i ...more
Sep 05, 2012 Talena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this with Michaela and we both enjoyed it. It was a different read for us both and opened our eyes to more of our world.
Alejandra Mendoza
Mar 06, 2014 Alejandra Mendoza rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: animal-books
Is About an Immigrant girl named Zitlally whose father gets deported on her birthday. She starts to drift away from her three best friends and starts showing poor performance in school. Eventually Zitlally starts developing a new friendship with a abandon stray dog she found in a junkyard and a classmate she would avoid named Crystal. Both Star and Crystal help Zitlally to be able to deal with the fact her father might never come back to the United States. Zitlally believes in a mayan myth about ...more
Jenna K
"Star in the Forest" was a pretty good book. I would recommend it to people who like to read about people crossing boarders and having hope. A lot of parts were interesting and detailed. The author, Laura Resau, did well on giving detail and emotion to the characters. I liked how she made some parts powerful. For example, the narrator's father got arrested and she found a dog in the forest and named it Star. She realized that keeping Star with her gave her more hope that her dad would be back wi ...more
Sep 21, 2011 Josiah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
One of the shorter modern junior novels I've read, Star in the Forest offers a lot for the perceptive reader. No matter what side of the aisle one is on when it comes to the logistics of official U.S. immigration policy, it can be very easy for many of us as natural-born American citizens to not fully understand the emotional tribulation that the families of illegal immigrants go through when they face deportation. Deserved or not, being expelled from the only country that one has ever called h ...more
Erin Reilly-Sanders
This was a sweet little story that I enjoyed so much more than Return to Sender even though maybe it was a little more sweet than necessary. I think the bit about the animal spirit might have bothered me more but maybe it really shouldn't. While it's not mentioned directly in the book, Latino/Latinas can have a different perspective toward what it real than what is commonly accepted in secular white European-American culture. Looking at the events that seem unlikely from that perspective really ...more
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I'm the author of the young adult novels The Queen of Water, Red Glass, What the Moon Saw, The Indigo Notebook, The Ruby Notebook , The Jade Notebook, and the middle-grade novels Star in the Forest, and most recently, The Lightning Queen. I grew up in Maryland, then moved around for ten years (as student, ESL teacher, and anthropologist), making my home in New Orleans; Aix-en-Provence, France; Oax ...more
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