Publisher's Note:  

Life is confusing for Mateo Martinez. He and Johnny Ramirez don't hang out anymore, even though they used to be best friends. He and his new friend Ashwin try to act like brave, old-time knights, but it only gets them in trouble. And last night, two skunks stole Mateo's old trike. 

Wait two skunks stole his trike? 

Mateo is too big for that rusty kid toy. He has a cool, shiny new bike anyway. But Mateo also has a neighborhood to protect. And he's about to begin a big, stinky quest to catch the thieves in the middle of the night! 

As Mateo protects his neighborhood, he also learns a few things about growing up and letting go.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Carolrhoda Books

The Midnight War of Mateo Martinez

by Robin Yardi

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Overall Review:  

Mateo Martinez is a knight--well, kind of.  He and his best friend, Ashwin, took an oath they found in an old book and now do their best to defend their neighborhood and live honorably, even in the face of Mateo's old best friend and the school bully.  But after his sister's tricycle is stolen by a couple of skunks and he is blamed, Mateo and Ashwin embark on a quest not only to restore honor and protect the neighborhood, but also to clear his name.  

The Midnight War of Mateo Martinez by Robin Yardi is a fun and exciting story that embodies the old adage that adventure can be found in your own back yard.  Mateo is a smart, rambunctious, loyal young man whose greatest ambition is to be a knight like those he reads about in the books from the school library.  He always tries to do the right thing and be honest, though that doesn't stop him from getting in plenty of scrapes.  Throughout his interactions with his friends, teachers and family, Mateo is a likable and relatable character.

Yardi does a masterful job of touching on heavier subjects (such as immigration, social differences, and ethnicity) in a subtle way that perfectly mirrors how an older child would perceive them.  Add two talking skunks with a militaristic bend who recruit Mateo, Ashwin and Mateo's sister Mila to participate in their night time war against the racoons and the reader is in for a fanciful treat.

Content Analysis:  

Language/Profanity:  1 mild obscenity.

Violence/Gore:  Boy kicks girl; boy trips; boy pulls girl back; boy squeezes girls hand hard; boy hits other boy with a ball; reference to a cat being hit with flowers; boy squishes fly; boy bumps girl with backpack; girl runs into boy; girl runs over woman's foot with toy; reference to animals being run over; boy implies violence with a bat; boys kick ball at other boys; boy runs into girl; boy considers "death trap" to catch animals; boy punches other boy's shoulder; a few bike collisions; boys skins knee; girl nets animals; animals snarl and snap at children; boys throw pinecones at animals; boy knocks out animal.

Sex/Nudity:  None

Mature Subject Matter:  

Family, bullying, immigration, ethnicity.

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Reviewed By Amberle
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