“You know, Stella, someone can only make you feel bad if you let them. It’s just words.”
The school year is off to a rocky start for Stella, a third grader working hard to find her way. While she is smart and creative, her quiet nature draws the wrath of the class bully. Stella’s mother reminds her about sticks and stones…but those words really do hurt, and they make a naturally introverted girl feel uncertain and fearful.
To make matters worse, Stella’s best friend Jenny is in a different class. Jenny isn’t there for support and is finding her own new friends in her class, adding to Stella’s feeling of isolation and loneliness. When a new student joins the class, Stella hopes that he can be a new friend. But she gets tongue-tied and flustered whenever she is around him.
Stella finds solace learning about sea animals and in making art, providing for lots of fun activities for your students. Readers will find inspiration as Stella works hard in speech therapy to overcome her speech struggles. And they will find role models in Stella’s supportive teachers, great librarian, and loving family.
Throughout this charming story, young readers will learn some Spanish words and phrases and be introduced to aspects of Mexican culture. And they’ll be asking for more when they learn about disappearing octopuses, resilient starfish, snowshoeing, and ice fishing.
Author Angela Dominguez draws on her own childhood struggles and insecurities to give us a character full of honesty and warmth. Your own students will end up cheering on this delightful girl as she works to find her voice – and she might help inspire some of your students to find theirs. By the end of the book, Stella has proudly triumphed in her big presentation to the class.
I grab my cheeks because my face hurts from smiling so much. I just can’t stop! Not only did I speak out loud in front of the whole class, I did it well. Today I really lived up to my name. I really was an Estrella.
A brisk read with just under 200 delightfully illustrated pages, once your students have fallen in love with Stella, they can continue the fun by reading more of this pitch-perfect series.