Latasha and the Little Red Tornado by Michael Scotto
I was very excited when I learned about this book. In the past few years there have been more early chapter series with young Black female protagonist. Like Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes or Keena Ford by Melissa Thomson. But it's nearly impossible to find stories just beyond that early reader stage with a Black girl as the main character.
At first glance at the cover and summary, I thought Latasha and the Little Red Tornado, would help this unnecessary gap. When my review copy arrived I was not dissappointed. It was exactly what I thought it would be and a wonderful debut. On the second page I learned Latasha is biracial. Scotto doesn't delve into this but its nice to see the author create a character that many young readers will be able to relate to and who probably don't get to see all that often.
8 yr old Latasha lives with her mom and puppy Ella. Latasha is doing her best to train two year old Ella who is still getting into everything. Latasha spends the afternoon with their landlady/downstairs neighbor Mrs.Okocho and hears how loud Ella can get. Afraid that she might lose Ella, Latasha get serious about puppy training.
From the beginning I was really into this story and loved Latasha's voice.
The first paragraph.
"Momma told me that there is a time in a puppy's life right around its second birthday - when it just starts to get it. The puppy starts to listen to you all the time and not just some of the time. She stops crying for food under the table and just patiently waits for a scrap. She realizes that yes, her tail actually is part of her body, and no, she'll probably never catch it. Basically, the puppy stops being a puppy and becomes a dog. Momma said it happens very quickly, like someone flipped a switch in the animal's brain. I wish someone would hit that switch for Ella."
There's so much to like about this story from Latasha's relationship to her mother to Latasha new friendship at school. And of course all that puppy enegry that is Ella. This was so much fun to read. I enjoyed the ending but was bit surprised by it. Don't worry it wasn't in the style of Old Yeller and everyone is smiling inculding Ella.
The chapters are short, about 6 pages per. Evette Gabriel's beautiful illustrations are great and make this story a little more fun for young readers who are in search of novel that are just a little bit longer.
Latasha and the Little Red Tornado comes out November 15th and is published by the newly formed imprint, Mildlandia Press.
Read an excerpt