Book Review: Allie First at Last by Angela Cervantes

Allie First at LastBy Awnali Mills

We occasionally get AR copies, and I grabbed one a few months ago that sat at the bottom of my stack for quite a while because, well, it didn’t have a due date.  But I read Allie First at Last by Angela Cervantes recently and enjoyed it.

Allie comes from a family of high achievers, people who regularly add trophies to their trophy shelf.  This drive to succeed goes all the way back to Allie’s beloved great-grandfather, who was a Congressional Medal of Honor winner.  The only one who can’t seem to come in first is Allie herself, and predictably, this is driving her nuts.

When Allie’s science fair project is unintentionally sabotaged by a well-meaning student, Victor, Allie turns in desperation to the Trailblazer contest, hoping to be the first student from her school to win the contest.  She chooses to do a photo essay on her great-grandfather, but will her drive to succeed further drive away her friends?  Will she figure out what’s truly important before it’s too late?

In the library world, we’re desperate for books that show culturally diverse families.  This is a great book for that diversity, since the main families involved are Hispanic.  The characters discuss some of the difficulties they have had historically with prejudice, but in a way that shows that determination and hard work often overcome the disadvantages that accompany prejudice.  Several prominent Hispanics are mentioned (like Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor) as people to emulate.  Aside from that, it’s just a good read, dealing with common elementary school issues of winning, losing, and difficult friendships as well as sibling rivalry.  Put this book into the hands of competitive students who might be losing sight of what’s really important.

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