Betancourt (the Pony Pals series) balances the fanciful and the real throughout—the thrill of Ava's wishes coming true versus her pangs of longing for her parents…kids will embrace this bighearted novel and its thoughtful, resilient narrator.
Young readers will find simple sentences, straightforward chronology and Dominguez’s black-and-white illustrations to reinforce and break up the text, but Betancourt slips in some narrative challenge, leaving them to wonder: Does Ava really have such power or is it all coincidence? This sophistication, Ava’s unusual situation and the realistic depiction of young people carrying on after a terrible loss set this book above the usual chapter-book fare.
Using the common three-wishes setup could lead to a predictable lesson about being careful what you wish for, but Betancourt allows Ava to learn from her choices without the intrusive I-told-you-so voice of the adult. The first-person story is an easy read, just right for the new reader, but the fully realized secondary characters and the poignancy of Ava's longing for her parents give it depth. Since author Betancourt is an old hand at series fiction, I hope my wish for more stories about Ava will come true.
The Horn Book