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The Smell of Old Lady Perfume

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On Chela Gonzalez's first day of sixth grade-her first year not to be in the bilingual class, her first year to be without the class "mean girl," her first year to have a chance at being a popular girl in the class- her dad has a stroke, and everything changes. Her father, the parent who has always made life interesting for Chela and her siblings, is now unable to work outside the home. Her mother must take a job to support the family. Chela begins school a week late only to find that her best friend since kindergarten has been taken into the class mean girls' circle (no, she didn't leave for private school as was rumored). She is no longer allowed to be Chela's friend. While there is progress in her dad's health and school does become bearable for several reasons, the book does not end without sorrow.

While Spanish words are interspersed with English, there are not so many that the book is difficult to read for a non-Spanish speaking person but just enough to actualize the Hispanic culture in Chela's home life and the circumstances of a bilingual student in an English-speaking school environment.
- July 1, 2008 

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