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Cover Art Milagros: Girl From Away

Milagros: Girl From Away . Medina, Meg; New York, Henry Holt and Company, 2008.

 

Grade Level: grades 6-8

 

ISBN 13 (hardback): 9780805082302

ISBN 10 (hardback): 0805082301

 

©2008, used by permission of Henry Holt and Company

Synopsis:

Milagros de la Torre is torn from her family and home on the mythical and idyllic Caribbean island of Las Brisas after an attack by bandits from a neighboring island. With help from family—and a little magic—she ends up on a small island in Maine, where the 12-year-old must overcome loss and make a new home.

General Review:

Magical Realism infuses the bittersweet tale of Milagros, a difficult but intelligent girl whose classmates shun her, whose mother seems distant and whose father ran away to become a pirate. Just as her life improves, an attack puts an end to peaceful island life, separates her from her mother and forces her to flee. Aided by mysterious sea creatures, she is briefly reunited with her father and later rescued by a Maine island family. She struggles to feel at home in this cold, strange place.

Themes: Mothers and daughters; Magic; Rays (fishes); Islands--Maine; West Indies; Maine; Pirates

Author information: Meg Medina has written fiction for adults and children, including adult stories about the Latino experience. She has also taught writing to children. Milagros: Girl From Away is her first novel. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her family.

Author's website: http://www.megmedina.com

Discussion Questions:

•  Why does Milagros play pranks on the other Las Brisas children? Do you think this was right? Do you sympathize with her reason, even if you disagree with it?

•  Is Miguel (Milagros's father) a bad person, or just misguided, or misunderstood? Does he earn forgiveness?

•  Milagros finally decides: “In the end, it was not the place that made any difference to a girl's happiness after all.” Is this true? Do you think it would be true for you?

•  What does Milagros mean by “See yourself with your own eyes,” and how does she learn to do that?

•  Why does Diana dislike Milagros? Do you see any similarities between Diana's parents and Milagros's?

•  What is Magical Realism?

•  Is Rosa a good mother to Milagros? Why do the other islanders think she's not?

Activities:

•  Write your own “message in a bottle.” What would you say in one sentence that might help or inspire a person who found your bottle washed up on a beach?

•  Research famous festivals around the world. Pick one you would like to attend and create a mask or costume based on your research about it.

•  Make a list of things you like to do in your home town (paste a photograph of your house, room or friends next to it if you like). Pretend you have been transported to a strange place (real or imaginary) to live with a new family and can take nothing but the clothes on your back. Now make a list of things to do in your new home. What would you miss the most? The least? What new things would you try?

•  Read about famous pirates (from any era or place.) Based on your reading, what do you think Miguel's daily life would have been like as a real pirate?

 

Similar Books for Further Reading

•  The Graveyard Book , by Neil Gaiman

•  The Unnameables, by Ellen Booraem

•  Island of the Blue Dolphins , by Scott O'Dell