Llamas, Iguanas, and My Very Best Friend

Candlewick. (Rica ­Baptista: Bk. 1). Oct. 2022. 128p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781536216301.
Gr 1-4–Eight-year-old Frederica “Rica” Baptista has a goal: convince her parents to let her get a pet. Her best friend Laini is determined to help her, but she and her family are moving away to Florida! Keeping this information to herself, Frederica tries to find ways to get a pet, including earning some money. When she learns about a poetry contest at the local bookstore, Frederica submits a poem with the encouragement of her kind neighbor/first grade teacher and her sometimes-annoying but always-supportive cousin Serenity. This humorous and thoughtful book introduces a charismatic and clever heroine along with her witty father and nutritionist mother, who named Rica after her great-great grandfather Frederico. Frederica receives constant support from her best friend Laini, and the various activities they take part in to reach Frederica’s goal of obtaining a pet are entertaining and fun. Readers have extra insight into Frederica’s mind when she confesses what she thinks versus what she says out loud, and they will love her quirky personality. Black-and-white illustrations complement the sweet plot and are sure to leave readers wishing for another chance to visit Rica’s world.
VERDICT A heartfelt story full of great characters that will encourage readers to keep trying, this is a wonderful addition to fiction collections for children.

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