Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan

Becoming Naomi LeonNaomi Leon and her brother Owen live with their great-grandmother.  Their mother left them with her when Naomi was little and her brother was just one year old.  They are a happy family living in a trailer with friends down the road that are like family.  Then their mother suddenly reappears.  It quickly becomes  evident that she wants to take Naomi to live with her and her boyfriend Clive so that Naomi can babysit for Clive’s daughter and they can get money from the state for her support.  They aren’t interested in Owen because he is too young and what his mother calls a “blem”,  imperfect, like the once-a-year sale  shoes from the local shoe store. 

Naomi is very afraid of leaving her gram and Owen and having to live with her mother, Skyla.  Skyla can be nice but she can be mean, too, and irresponsible. 

Gram makes arrangements for a custody hearing and then takes off in the early morning before Skyla shows up to take Naomi.  She and her Mexican friends are going to Oaxaca City in Mexico.  Gram has told her that every year their father goes to the radish-carving festival there and she is hoping to find him and have him help her keep custody of Naomi and Owen.

I loved the children.   Naomi likes to collect new words, to make lists and she loves to carve soap.  She can make wonderful animals when she carves.  Owen is a cheerful child in spite of his disability.  He is the smartest boy in second grade and can beat most adults at checkers.  He still has insecurities though.  He has to put tape on his shirt and when he feels stressed he adds more tape.

I also loved the descriptions of Mexico and the customs.  This book is recommended for children in 4th grade and up who like to read about other cultures and can sympathize with others’ problems and cheer for their successes.

Posted by: Fran W.

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