Late to the Party ARC Review – Ava and Taco Cat by Carol Weston

21991202Title: Ava and Taco Cat

Author: Carol Weston

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Ava desperately wants a pet for her eleventh birthday-but gets way more than she bargained for when she adopts T-A-C-O-C-A-T.

When Ava Wren hears about an injured yellow tabby with mismatched ears, she becomes obsessed and wants to rescue him. She even picks out a perfect palindromic name: T-A-C-O-C-A-T. But when Taco joins the family, he doesn’t snuggle or purr-all he does is hide. Worse, Ava’s best friend starts hanging out with Zara, a new girl in fifth grade. Ava feels alone and writes an acclaimed story, “The Cat Who Wouldn’t Purr.” What begins as exciting news turns into a disaster. How can Ava make things right? And what about sweet, scared little Taco?

Huge thank you to Sourcebooks Jabberwocky and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I was a huge fan of Carol Weston’s Ava and Pip last year. I thought it was just such a fantastic and humorous portrayal of sisterhood. Colour me surprised when I found out that Carol had wrote a sequel, this time about Ava and her new cat companion, Taco Cat.

Once again, Carol Weston does this amazing job of putting us in the mind of a young girl, and she keeps Ava in character. Sometimes it’s awkward to read first-person middle grade books because sometimes characters read slightly older than they should be, but I feel like book is spot on. A lot of this story revolves around Ava’s relationship with others, and a lot of the book just made me smile.

There’s one bit in the story that really hit close to home: when I was Ava’s age, there was a girl in my class who I felt was totally trying to take my best friend away from me. I remembered I ended up being bullied by that girl (she left me messages telling me how my bestfriend hated me, etc). Thankfully the book doesn’t go that far, but it’s interesting to see how Ava handles her jealousy and frustrations, and I loved that Maybelle doesn’t entirely let he get away with the behaviour either. Still, I knew full well how Ava felt, and I actually did feel sorry for her. But I also was pleased by the resolve for that situation.

And then there is Taco Cat. My goodness, he’s a wonderful feline companion. He has a lot of personality and spark. I love that he provides Ava and her family so much comfort, and it’s true that pets just have this magical way of brightening up your life and making you smile without effort. It’s also why losing a pet is so hard as well — the instant love and gratification is gone.

The only thing that disappointed me a bit, was the lack of Pip. She was there, but she didn’t have as much of a presence as I was hoping. We need more Pip!

Once again, I loved this book, and I love that Carol Weston gives younger readers lots to ponder as the book progresses. I am only imagine what Ava and Pip’s next adventure is going to be like. This book was fun, thoughtful, and just such a great read. If you have children or you like sweet middle grade, this book is for you.

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