star in the forest
When eleven-year-old Zitlally's father is deported to Mexico, she takes emotional refuge in her trailer park's "forest" of rusted car parts. With the help of spunky neighbor Crystal, she tries to save her father by aiding a stray dog who she believes is her father's spirit animal.
Ages 8 & up, Delacorte/Random House, 2010, available in hardcover, paperback, ebook, and Spanish (Scholastic en Espanol, 2016).
awards and honors
* "Once again, Resau has woven details of immigrant life into a compelling story... This is a well-told and deeply satisfying read." -- School Library Journal (STARRED)
* "As in Francisco Jiménez's The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child (1997) and Pam Muñoz Ryan's Esperanza Rising (2000), Resau's novel tells a child's migration story with simple immediacy ... Always true to Zitlally's viewpoint, the unaffected writing makes clear the anguish of illegals... [An] unforgettable narrative of a girl's daily struggle to find a home." -- ALA Booklist (STARRED)
"Resau introduces preteens to the drama that thousands of children of immigrants face in the United States: the fear of their parents’ deportation… Zitlally’s first-person narration effectively re-creates the ingenuous voice of an 11-year-old, infused with concern for her family. A story of friendship that will speak to children of different cultures." -- Kirkus
"This beautifully written story will lead to discussions among young readers and perhaps foster a better understanding of the plight of illegal Mexican workers in the United States today." -- Children's Literature
"I think Resau has done something even bigger here. I find it a much rarer discovery to come across such an important-yet-sweet book that will be embraced by third, fourth, fifth and even sixth graders, one that deals so incredibly well -- on a level appropriate for younger readers -- with issues of friendship and poverty and borders and of not making assumptions about people you don't really know." --Richie Partington of Richie's Picks
I felt inspired to write Star in the Forest after hearing from a twelve-year-old reader who connected with the main character, Clara, in my book What the Moon Saw. But this girl pointed out one big difference: Clara was born in the United States, and could freely cross the Mexican border. This girl, however, was born in Mexico and immigrated here illegally with her parents. They came to the United States to work because they couldn't find jobs in Mexico that would pay for decent housing, food, clothes, and education. Last year, this girl wanted to visit her relatives in Mexico, especially her father, who had recently been deported. But if she went, it would be too dangerous to return. This girl's story is a common one in our country now, and part of a bigger immigration story.
- Here you can read more about Laura's inspiration for Star in the Forest.
- To read about how Laura found the heart of this story, see her blog post here.
- The Pirate Tree (social justice and kids lit) interview is here.
- Here you can read all Laura's blog posts with the label Star in the Forest (including kids' poetry and class activities inspired by the book.)
- Teachers' Guide to Star in the Forest. (Detailed, chapter-by-chapter.)
I'm thrilled that Star in the Forest was translated to Estrella en el bosque by my close friend, writing partner, and former ESL student Gloria Garcia Diaz! Read more about Gloria and the Spanish edition here.