CYBILS REVIEW: Gaby, Lost and Found by Angela Cervantes
ABOUT THE BOOK
Wanted: One amazing forever home for one amazing sixth grader.
"My name is Gaby, and I'm looking for a home where I can invite my best friend over and have a warm breakfast a couple of times a week. Having the newest cell phone or fancy clothes isn't important, but I'd like to have a cat that I can talk to when I'm home alone."
Gaby Ramirez Howard loves volunteering at the local animal shelter. She plays with the kittens, helps to obedience train the dogs, and writes adoption advertisements so that the strays who live there can find their forever homes: places where they'll be loved and cared for, no matter what.
Gaby has been feeling like a bit of a stray herself, lately. Her mother has recently been deported to Honduras and Gaby is stuck living with her inattentive dad. She's confident that her mom will come home soon so that they can adopt Gaby's favorite shelter cat together. When the cat's original owners turn up at the shelter, however, Gaby worries that her plans for the perfect family are about to fall apart.
Gaby lives with her father now that her mother has been sent back to Honduras because she was in the U.S. illegally. But Gaby's father rarely pays attention to her and barely manages to support them both moving jobs every few weeks. Gaby desperately wants her mother to return and doesn't understand the difficulties involved. When her school class volunteers at an animals shelter, Gaby is asked to write profiles of each of the animals available for adoption, which she does well. But when she falls in love with an abused and neglected cat named Feather, she's willing to do whatever it takes to protect the cat even if it gets her in trouble.
Strengths: Gaby is a likable main character who makes plenty of mistakes throughout the story as she searches for a home to call her own. Her best friend, Alma is a delight with her fiesty ways and sense of humor. The issue of illegal immigration is handled in a sensitive way with Gaby eventually realizing that skipping over the border just isn't possible and even attempting it is dangerous. I also appreciated Gaby's teacher's and the way they handled poor student behavior, including the bullying that Gaby undergoes.
Weaknesses: The legal issues involved in illegal immigration are ignored and other ways for Gaby's mother to return are not explored, giving the book a rather one-sided feel. Gaby's going to live with Alma's family is treated as an informality when legally certain things would need to be done for them to offically be her guardians. The school especially would require a legal guardian for certain things. Child readers though aren't likely to notice any of this, they will simply enjoy a sweet story about finding home and animals.