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Penguin: Young Readers Group Summer 2019

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Marcus Vega Doesn't Speak Spanish
By (author): Pablo Cartaya
9781101997284 Paperback, Digest English Juvenile: Age (years) from 10, Grade (US) from 5 JUVENILE FICTION / People & Places / United States / Hispanic & Latino Jul 09, 2019
$11.99 CAD
Active 5.19 x 7.75 x 0.73 in 288 pages Viking Children's Books Puffin Books
One boy’s search for his father leads him to Puerto Rico in this moving-middle grade novel, for fans of Ghost and See You in the Cosmos.

Marcus Vega is six feet tall, 180 pounds, and the owner of a premature mustache. When you look like this and you’re only in the eighth grade, you’re both a threat and a target. After a fight at school leaves Marcus facing suspension, Marcus’s mom decides it’s time for a change of environment. She takes Marcus and his younger brother to Puerto Rico to spend a week with relatives they don’t remember or have never met. But Marcus can’t focus knowing that his father—who walked out of their lives ten years ago—is somewhere on the island.

So begins Marcus’s incredible journey, a series of misadventures that take him all over Puerto Rico in search of his elusive namesake. Marcus doesn’t know if he’ll ever find his father, but what he ultimately discovers changes his life. And he even learns a bit of Spanish along the way.

AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR: Pablo’s debut, The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora, is a 2018 Pura Belpré Author Honor Book, an E. B. White Read-Aloud Award finalist, and was included on multiple year-end best book lists. It also received THREE STARRED REVIEWS.

TEACHABLE MOMENTS INCLUDE: the transformative power of travel, the dangers of judging someone based on appearance, exploring your cultural heritage, learning a new language, and more.

A book that shows the nuances of BULLYING, particularly physical versus psychological bullying.

REALISTIC PORTRAYAL of a supporting character with Down syndrome.

TIMELY: With necessary ongoing discussions about Puerto Rican emergency relief, the debt crisis, and statehood versus independence, this book will share a side of Puerto Rico readers need to see.

POIGNANT AND HUMOROUS: Pablo’s writing is poignant, heartwarming, and endlessly accessible. It’s similar in tone to the work of Rita Williams-Garcia and Christopher Paul Curtis.

Pablo Cartaya’s novels explore identity, place, and the spaces in between. His debut novel about a boy standing up for his community, The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora, received three starred reviews and is a 2018 Pura Belpré Author Honor Book. When Pablo isn’t writing, he’s spending time with his family or dreaming of his next visit to Puerto Rico. Learn more about Pablo at and follow him on Twitter @phcartaya.

Author Residence: Coral Gables, FL

Author Hometown: New York, NY



School Library Journal, starred review

*“An ideal read for boys or reluctant readers.”

School Library Connection, starred review

“A compelling read about the meaning of family, identity, and culture.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Thoughtful and thought provoking.”


“Cartaya’s follow-up to 2018 Pura Belpré Honor Book The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamorashines.”

The Horn Book


*“Irresistibly exquisite.”

Kirkus Reviews, starred review

*“At turns funny, beautiful, and heartbreaking.”

Booklist, starred review

*“A vibrant debut novel about family, friendship, and community.”

Publishers Weekly, starred review

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