By: Michael Scotto
Illustrated by: Evette Gabriel
Published by: Midlandia Press
Released on: November 15th, 2011
Source: ARC from author for review
Ages: 8 & up
4 stars: I Really Enjoyed It
Latasha and the Little Red Tornado tells the story of Latasha Gandy, a precocious and inventive third-grader who lives in Pittsburgh with her hardworking mother and a naughty puppy named Ella Fitzgerald. At eight years old, Latasha cannot wait to grow up. Ella, on the other hand, absolutely refuses to! When Ella's antics push the Gandy's landlady, Mrs. Okocho, to her wits' end, Latasha realizes that she must turn her mischievous mutt into a model dog. Latasha enlists the help of a classmate and neighbor, Ricky, in her efforts to train Ella. Their friendship grows as Ricky joins the girls on their adventures in the park. But after Latasha and Ricky have a falling out, Latasha decides to take Ella out on her own, a choice that proves to have grave consequences. At turns hilarious and heartbreaking, this tale of friendship and maturity follows Latasha as she struggles with Ella, school, and her mother's absence from home. -quoted from Goodreads
This is such a heart warming, wonderful story for younger readers. It's a story kids will be able to relate to, and one they'll enjoy spending time with as they get to know Latasha, the story's main character. Young Latasha, who's now eight years old has a lot to deal with. She has an unruly faithful pup named Ella Fitzgerald (named after Latasha's favorite singer) who likes to do things puppies do like get into things they're not suppose to... meaning the trash and the down stairs neighbor/landlord's flowerbed. Not only does Latasha do the best she can to teach her friendly dog manners, she also tries to be a huge help to her single mother who's recently started a new job, and keep a good attitude about spending more time their elderly down stairs neighbor Ms. Okocho.
Latasha is such a wonderful, likable character to get to know. I adore her and her voice in this story. She felt like a realistic young girl, and she's someone I often times found myself wanting to give a hug to her and tell her everything would turn out all right. One of the things I loved in this story is the way author Michael Scotto wrote about Latasha's different situations. I was able to remember being eight and wanting to be looked at as a young lady vs a little kid, much like Latasha does. There's real life situations like dealing with school, being an only child, learning to raise a dog, being from a single parent home, friendship, honesty and being brave that are apart of this story. Each of these situations not only helped Latasha grow and mature as the story goes along, they're also real scenarios readers will be able to identify with.
Michael Scotto's writing in this book is fabulous! The voice for Latasha is honest, real and down right wonderful. I loved each of the characters that are introduced in this story and getting to know them. It wasn't hard for me to fall in love with each of them. Over all this is an enjoyable read with lovable, realistic characters. Though I adore Latasha tremendously, I think her pup Ella won me over the most. What a fabulous character this loyal campion is and I love that Latasha got her from the shelter (even if she didn't I still would have loved her just the same). If you're looking for a book for readers to connect with, one that teaches important life lessons, and offers a realistic voice, I highly recommend picking this one up. I'm looking forward to reading more books by Michael Scotto.