Each Tiny Spark (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Emilia is a neurodiverse preteen who struggles with concentrating in school. But she has a great team to help her focus: her driven mom, her somewhat controlling abuela, and her best friend, Gus. But when Emilia's dad returns from the Marines, she's not so sure how to communicate with him. He seems so...different. And if that isn't stressful enough, something's going wrong in her neighborhood. Why are all the parents upset that her school is absorbing new students? Why does Clarissa treat Gus differently? Why does it suddenly feel like she lives in two worlds? This is a book about the heart: the heart of community, the heart of family, and the heart of history. You'll be rooting for Emilia from beginning to end.

— From Halley


From award-winning author Pablo Cartaya comes a deeply moving middle grade novel about a daughter and father finding their way back to each other in the face of their changing family and community.


Emilia Torres has a wandering mind. It's hard for her to follow along at school, and sometimes she forgets to do what her mom or abuela asks. But she remembers what matters: a time when her family was whole and home made sense. When Dad returns from deployment, Emilia expects that her life will get back to normal. Instead, it unravels.

Dad shuts himself in the back stall of their family's auto shop to work on an old car. Emilia peeks in on him daily, mesmerized by his welder. One day, Dad calls Emilia over. Then, he teaches her how to weld. And over time, flickers of her old dad reappear.

But as Emilia finds a way to repair the relationship with her father at home, her community ruptures with some of her classmates, like her best friend, Gus, at the center of the conflict.

Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya is a tender story about asking big questions and being brave enough to reckon with the answers.

About the Author

Pablo Cartaya is an award-winning author, speaker, actor, and educator. In 2018, he received a Pura Belpré Author Honor for his middle grade novel The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora. His second novel, Marcus Vega Doesn't Speak Spanish, is available now. Learn more about Pablo at pablocartaya.com and follow him on Twitter @phcartaya.

Praise For…



*"A pitch-perfect middle-grade novel that insightfully explores timely topics with authenticity and warmth." 
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

*"[A] layered, culturally rich novel." 
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Hand to tween fans of realistic fiction."
School Library Journal

"Plenty of kids will relate to [Emilia's] passion and perseverance."

Product Details
ISBN: 9780451479723
ISBN-10: 0451479726
Publisher: Kokila
Publication Date: August 6th, 2019
Pages: 336