Reading/Interest Level: Primary, Intermediate
Author: Robin Yardi
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Mateo Martinez doesn’t believe it at first. How could two skunks have stolen his old tricycle from the driveway in the middle of the night? When he realizes that it really did happen, and it wasn’t just a dream, Mateo is determined to get his precious trike back. Along with his best friend and little sister, Mateo plans a sneak attack on the skunks to get the tricycle back. They end up forming an alliance with the animals to wage war against a gang of raccoons. Together, the group discovers the strength in friendship, loyalty, and working with others.
The Midnight War of Mateo Martinez touches on several complex situations for kids, but falls short on how to manage many of them. Aside from the skunks, Mateo deals with playground bullies and a drifting relationship with his former best friend. The latter issues ultimately go unresolved. And though they do not act upon it, there is a point where the main characters consider acting meanly toward other kids. Another thing to note is that there are some Spanish words that readers may not understand if not familiar with the language. Overall, Mateo’s story makes for a good light read that can be used to initiate conversations on certain topics.
*Contains mild language.