Stella Diaz Dreams Big

by Angela Dominguez Year Published: 2021
Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2020)
Fourth grade is not for the faint of heart. In Book 3 of the Stella Díaz series, Dominguez’s Ramona Quimby–esque heroine of Salvadoran and Mexican descent finds herself a tad overextended as she joins an art club, attempts to fulfill her presidential duties at the helm of the ocean-saving Sea Musketeers, and takes swim lessons with best friend Jenny. As if that weren’t enough, her mom is spending a suspicious amount of time with new neighbor Diego, and Stella is not sure how she feels about her mom having a maybe-boyfriend. Stella’s worry and exhaustion are palpable, but her enthusiasm for all of her hobbies is endearingly earnest. Middle-grade readers will get a taste of what’s to come when Stella and her older brother, Nick, compare extracurriculars as he begins to imagine applying to college. As with previous volumes, occasional Spanish words are presented in italics (a decision explained in the author’s note); they are typically accompanied by context clues or in-text translations, narrator Stella confiding to readers that she needs to work on her Spanish. Her overall vocabulary is robust, however, and she easily weaves in words such as guffaw, devious, and deduction that bolster her go-getter characterization. The Chicago setting and its vigorous Latinx community are well realized. The novel can easily be enjoyed without familiarity with previous books, and Dominguez’s black-and-white illustrations give transitioning readers’ eyes places to rest. The lovable Díaz family has yet to disappoint. (Fiction. 7-10)