By Meg Medina
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Reading Level: 5th grade
Interest Level: 9th-12th grade
Awards: Milwaukee County Teen Book Award Nominee (2014), Pura Belpré Award for Narrative (2014)
Teaser: Piddy is just a young Latina teen struggling to cope with a new school, a new house, and her best friend moving away. The last thing she needs is another problem, but Yaqui Delgado just won’t leave her alone!
Summary: Piedad “Piddy” Sanchez is a teen who’s experiencing a crisis. Her mom insists on moving to a new house and a new neighborhood, even to a new school. To make things worse, her best friend Mitzi has moved away. Not long after starting at her new school, Piddy is told that Yaqui Delgado wants to kick her ass. The problem is that Piddy does not even know who Yaqui Delgado is, let alone what she did to her to make her dislike her so much. Yaqui begins to terrorize Piddy at school and Piddy is too afraid to stop her. The bullying begins to affect other parts of Piddy’s life. Her mother and “auntie” Lila fear that she is losing herself and they cannot figure out why she is acting so drastically. Piddy finds solace in a guy that she never thought of romantically, but her anxiety also causes her to sabotage her friendship with Mitzi. When Yaqui and her friends finally do beat Piddy up, Piddy begins the painful rollercoaster ride of deciding what kind of woman she wants to be. Will she report Yaqui or will she stay silent?
Information about the Author: On Medina’s official website, her bio says, “Meg Medina is an award-winning Cuban American author who writes picture books, middle grade, and YA fiction. She is the 2016 recipient of the Pura Belpré honor medal for her picture book, Mango, Abuela and Me, and the 2014 Pura Belpré Award winner for her young adult novel, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass , which was also the winner of the 2013 CYBILS Fiction award and the International Latino Book Award. She is also the 2012 Ezra Jack Keats New Writers medal winner for her picture book Tía Isa Wants a Car. Meg’s other books are The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind , a 2012 Bank Street Best Book and CBI Recommended Read in the UK; and Milagros: Girl from Away. Meg’s work examines how cultures intersect, as seen through the eyes of young people. She brings to audiences stories that speak to both what is unique in Latino culture and to the qualities that are universal. Her favorite protagonists are strong girls. In March 2014, she was recognized as one of the CNN 10 Visionary Women in America. In November 2014, she was named one of Latino Stories Top Ten Latino Authors to Watch. When she is not writing, Meg works on community projects that support girls, Latino youth and/or literacy. She lives with her family in Richmond, Virginia.”
Critical Evaluation: Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass immediately grabbed my attention. From the title, I thought that the main character was going to be Yaqui, but I was not disappointed in Piddy as a character. Medina is an amazing writer. Piddy’s tone of voice and feelings were easily understood through Medina’s writing. She expertly weaves Latin culture into Piddy’s personality without taking away her individuality. One line that stuck out for me was when Piddy describes her mother as, “Ma is too tired to remember. It’s like Lila can still hear the rhythm in a salsa on the radio and not just complain about the noise” (13). Medina does a very good job at creating Piddy’s story, but I think it would have been interesting to hear from some different perspectives. Medina backs up her decision to focus on Piddy though when she talks about wanting Piddy to be the focus so that people could understand the psychological trauma that bullying has on the victim.
Curriculum Ties: Culture, Bullying, Psychology
Booktalk Ideas: Write a paragraph about how Piddy handled the situation. Would you have done the same thing? What would you have done differently?
Challenge Issues: Violence, Bullying, Language
Challenge Resources: Rationale for choosing this book (see “Why Did I Pick This”), Engage students and parents in discussions about intellectual freedom, ALA Library Bill of Rights, Challenge Resources from the American Library Association, Educator’s Guide to Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass
Why Did I Pick This: I picked this book because Piddy offers a perspective of someone who goes through the psychological and physical damage of bullying. The book discusses critical topics such as fear, race, and academic pressure. Young adults will benefit from reading a story about character who they can easily relate to.
Medina, Meg. (2013). Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass. Massachusetts: Candlewick Press.