“Young readers are asking for substance. They are asking for respect. They are asking for books that challenge, and confirm, and console. They are asking for us to listen to their questions and to help them find their own answers,” Karen Hesse said in her 1998 Newbery acceptance speech. Except that this book wasn’t published yet, she could have been talking about the novel Why Does the Coqui Sing? (Holiday House, Inc., 2004).
Author Barbara Garland Polikoff drew me in with her first two sentences. Luz’s relationships with each of the people in her life all feel so real. This story about adapting and accepting change takes Luz, her mother, brother, little sister, and stepfather from Chicago to Puerto Rico. Through the new friends she makes and the things she learns to like about Puerto Rico and her stepfather, and the importance of being in Puerto Rico to care for her grandfather, Luz learns that it’s not so important to go back to Chicago. She also heals from the hurt of her father’s abandonment.