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Each Tiny Spark

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  230 ratings  ·  56 reviews
From award-winning author Pablo Cartaya comes a deeply moving middle grade novel about a daughter and father finding their way back to each other in the face of their changing family and community.

Emilia Torres has a wandering mind. It's hard for her to follow along at school, and sometimes she forgets to do what her mom or abuela asks. But she remembers what matters: a
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published August 6th 2019 by Kokila
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Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  230 ratings  ·  56 reviews

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Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
One of the jobs of a good librarian is to advocate for her people. I feel the need to advocate for my people today.

I'm Hispanic. Not by birth, but by a somewhat precarious adoption into the tribe. I've worked hard to gain this admission by studying Spanish for thirty years and working and living with children, friends, and family who have close ties to Hispanic cultures.

So please trust me when I say that children are not often able to find their Hispanic cultures represented in books. And that
Laura (bbliophile)
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've enjoyed every Pablo Cartaya book I've read so far, and this one wasn't any different. I might write a longer review of this sometime soon but I would definitely recommend this book. It's a good one.
Mari Bianco
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Although this was not my favorite Pablo Cartaya book, Emilia Rosa Torres is my favorite of his characters. Emilia struggles with ADHD, and her world is rocked when her father returns home from deployment, distant and despondent. This book explores PTSD, and how difficult it can be for those surrounding one who suffers from this harsh disorder. It discusses redistricting and how it affects all socioeconomic parties. It poignantly explains the sense of belonging that all immigrants hope to achieve ...more
Mandy Stallard
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookposse
Emilia has a hard time focusing on topics that don't interest her, but when she is interested in something, she becomes laser-focused on it. This neuro-diversity makes school challenging; her mom tries to help her compensate by planning out her school week for her and staying on top of her assignments. How is Emilia supposed to cope when her mom goes out of town for business at the exact same time her father is returning from deployment. To make matters worse, her grandmother is becoming super ...more
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
I got an ARC of this book at a conference. I find all of Cartaya's books so poignant and relevant to kids. I love how this one covers important political topics from a middle school point of view. I will be recommending this book in my classroom.
Ms. Yingling
Jun 14, 2019 rated it liked it
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Emilia Torres is worried when her mother has to go out of town on business for a week, especially since her father is just coming home from his latest deployment. Sure, her Abuela is around to make sure she's fed and her curly hair is tamed (even though that's mainly Abuela's choice!), but Emilia worries about getting her homework and school projects done without her mother's reminders. It doesn't help that her father is oddly distant, working on fixing a vintage
Liz Friend
Apr 05, 2019 rated it liked it
The story: Emilia Torres has a lot going on in her life. Her mom's interviewing for a new job out of town; her dad just got done with a long deployment, and when he gets home, there's something "not quite right" with him. Emilia has ADHA; her Abuela is trying to run her life; and a school project goes badly wrong, leaving members of her class on opposite side of a local politial issue. Can Emilia figure out how to get through all her challenges and, at the same time, find her own voice enough to ...more
Laura Gardner
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
/5 LOVED THIS BOOK!!! Recommended for anyone who wants to read about a neurodivergent character who uses her strengths to help fight for justice!

Emilia Torres is Cuban American and has ADHD. Her mind wanders and she relies on her mother to help her navigate homework and relationships. Her mother is away at a conference in California, however, so she is home with her abuela and her father who has just returned from deployment. Her father struggles with anxiety and PTSD from his time in the
Nov 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disappointing, given how fantastic Cartaya's first book, Marcus Vega Doesn't Speak Spanish, was. I really, truly wanted to love it. It's got a girl welding on the cover! I mean, how fantastic is that? I love girl characters who bust out of the traditional gender roles. I love seeing #OwnVoices authors break out in the publishing world. I love seeing different cultures on the page - seeing how they're different from me, but also the same, at the core. That's so vital in this world.

But... but...
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Emilia’s dad has been deployed for many months and doesn’t keep in touch, her mom is absorbed in her work, Emelia struggles in school as she deals with her Inattentive Type ADHD and her abuela is obsessed about Emilia becoming a young lady. Emelia’s best friend, Gus, is doing his best to help her feel better about her life by making videos of Emelia telling her dad about her daily life. The only problem is that her dad has never once mentioned or thanked her for the movies.

Emelia is convinced
Kate Waggoner
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-read
@Kidlitexchange #partner

Thank you to the publisher @penguinkids and the author @phcartaya for sharing an advance copy of Each Tiny Spark with the #kidlitexchange network. This book will be released in August 2019.

Emilia Torres is a 6th grader with ADHD. Her mother has just left for California on a work trip and her father has just returned from active duty. Things in her household are different from the past and Emilia is struggling with her mom being gone, her abuela talking about her becoming
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
12-year-old Emilia Rosa Torres is easily distracted. Besides her ADHD, she has a lot going on - her father is recently returned from deployment, her mother is working out of town, and her homework is tricky - especially her social studies assignment: to make a travel guide of her town Merryville. Emilia's abuela is from Cuba, so she decides to focus on the local grocery store and Spanish speaking members of the community - where they work and what brought them there. Her choices put a strain on ...more
Jun 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank you @penguinkids for this free review copy of #eachtinyspark by @phcartaya coming out in August! This is going to fill so many readers’ needs! stars for me and only because I know zero Spanish so that was tough for me but it also stretched me and I loved having to do something new as a reader!

Emilia Rosa is a sixth grader who needs some extra help in school. Her mama just left for a work trip, her papi is coming home from a tour of duty, and her abuela is overbearing. On top of all of
Deanna Holdsworth
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
This realistic fiction book is one that most of us will be able to relate to.
Emilia lives with her mom and grandma in a small town outside of Atlanta Georgia. Just as her dad is returning from being deployed her mother leaves on a business trip. Emilia is nervous about being around her dad because he has been gone a long time with his latest deployment. Emilia struggles with ADHD and gets help from her mother and at school but with mom gone what will happen? Dad is acting differently and as he
Sep 25, 2019 rated it liked it
I really love Pablo Cartaya's books, and this is a great addition to middle grade collections. We always need more books with culturally diverse characters, and many readers will see themselves in Emilia's family and friends. From a critical perspective, however, this book tries to tackle multiple issues with varying degrees of success. Based on the cover and the little hints in the beginning, I expected Emilia and her friends and family to come to an awareness of her mechanical ability, and I ...more
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: middle-grades
A bit awkward understanding the Spanish phrases, especially at the beginning of the story, because the vocabulary isn't familiar to someone with only H.S. Spanish background and not easily absorbed from context. Other writers have done better with this.
Cartaya packs all sorts of relevant current events into these middle schoolers' lives as they explore their community during the redrawing of school neighborhood lines in a town that has an unbalanced number of students in its schools and an area
Kendall Ball
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
To me, this is Cartaya’s best book yet. There is so much going on in this story and all of it is handled with care and tied up before the end of the book- a challenging feat when dealing with racial/cultural issues, father/daughter relationships, changing friendships, and neurodiversity!

My favorite part of this story was Emilia’s friendship with Gus, which is sweet and caring. I also love how Emilia uses the library and librarian to help with her research project throughout the whole story.
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is A LOT going on in this book, but that's kind of like real life. None of us has the luxury of dealing with only one thing at a time. Emilia has a lot on her plate -- difficulty at school, her mom is on a business trip, her dad just got home from deployment, her abuela wants her to act like a young lady, and there is an underlying current of racism towards latinx people in their small Georgia town. Cartaya manages to weld this all together into a story that will resonant with most middle ...more
Jamie Klos
Dec 23, 2019 rated it liked it
I thought this book was just ok. There were a lot of Spanish phrases in it that I thought would be hard for a non-Spanish speaker to understand. I liked the underlying story about a girl with Cuban heritage who struggles to focus in school and her dad who comes back from the military with some kind of PTSD. It seemed like the author was really trying to push social justice issues in the book and while I could appreciate some of them like fear of ICE coming, it seemed like others were just thrown ...more
Tina Cho
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is especially poignant because I live among a military community, and I think kids can better understand post-traumatic stress from reading this book. I love how Emilia's relationship strengthens with her dad as they both love welding. This book has multiple layers--immigration issues, a mother away for work, a father returning from an overseas deployment, and loving one's community and heritage. I sometimes used Google translate for the Spanish words that I had forgotten from high ...more
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. I loved Emilia Rose and her struggle to find her identity. The way that she used her gifts to connect pieces of her identity, the past, and current events is a great example for middle grade readers. I typically like it when books include different languages for bilingual speakers; but in this book it was just enough Spanish that I think it will be difficult for the intended audience to get the meaning. I don’t know how better to navigate that difficulty; I simply noticed it.
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Emilia is excited that her dad is returning from deployment overseas. She is less excited that her mom is going to be out of town when he gets back. Emilia has ADHD and her mom helps her keep on track with homework. Dad seems really distant and doesn't want to do all the things he used to enjoy. He spends all his time at the family garage working on an old car. Emilia has a lot going on at school. There is a big assignment to produce a tourism guide for their town. Emilia's interests lead her to ...more
Nov 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grades
So much to like about this book. Cartaya offers insight into Hispanic culture - especially Cuban Americans, along with coping with deployment returns and transitions, plus middle school angst, and prejudices in small towns.
Throw in a main character with learning disabilities and this could have been a mess. However, Cartaya navigates the various issues well and brings the readers along to see the world through Emilia Rosa's eyes.
Katie Proctor
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
Emilia is 12, has ADHD, a dad just getting back from a deployment overseas, a controlling but loving abuela, and a good friend named Gus. She and her classmates fall head on into an issue of school redistricting and there’s a lot of tension in the community. I really appreciated all the information Pablo Cartaya shares about immigration, PTSD, ADHD, but my only complaint is that it seemed like there were too many issues to be able to focus. But, I think it’s an important read for sure.
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love how Cartaya can so accurate describe the separation kids feel from their parents in middle school without having adults who do something to deserve it. In this story he touches on struggles a soldier faces when returning home from war without making the father into someone to be afraid of. Great for middle grades.
Dec 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really appreciated the representations of Latinx characters, ADD, and PTSD in this book. Some of the social justice stuff was done a little clumsily (and sometimes with perhaps too much ease for the characters), but overall a very enjoyable read that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to middle grade readers who like realistic fiction.
Synthia Salomon
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! Some heavy topics for children but done well. Fell in love with the main character and her family, especially her mother. As a teacher, I connected to the SS teacher and enjoyed the perspectives of students who want to do well, care about their learning, while struggling with learning disabilities and family conflicts.
Lots of things to like about this own voices story that tackles lots of issues but also in a way sounds like it is writtern from the perspective of a librarian. Can see teachers using it as at 5th-7th grade read aloud but the writing may appeal more to 4th and 5th graders. Would love to hear from teachers who have read it aloud.
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
This book has a lot going on and I'm to the point where I'm starting to get burned out on realistic middle grade fiction. BUT Pablo Cartaya is a talented writer with a strong voice and this book tackles some big things without getting too heavy.
It takes courage to stand up for what’s right, to tell someone you love that they need to change, to value yourself enough to share your voice with an unreceptive audience. Emilia has the courage to do all those things in this inspiring middle grades story.
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Pablo Cartaya is a professional code switcher and lover of all things Latinx. He talks a lot and writes a lot which are paradoxical conundrums to overcome on a daily basis. He is the author of the acclaimed middle-grade novel, The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora (Viking Children’s Books/Penguin Random House) which earned him a Publisher's Weekly "Flying Start" and starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, ...more