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Book Review: Pilar Ramirez and the Escape From Zafa

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It’s hard for me to articulate just how important it is to have diverse heroines in the books that I share with my kids. I want them to read about characters that reflect their mixed culture of being Afro Latinas. In Julian Randall’s Pilar Ramirez and the Escape From Zafa, brown girls can see themselves having the adventure of their lives! Read on for a full review of Pilar Ramirez and the Escape From Zafa.

Books are provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

Pilar Ramirez is a young Dominican photographer growing up in Chicago. Things in the neighborhood are changing (gentrifying) and since her sister Lorena has gone off to college Pilar is feeling off. Pilar’s family moved to Chicago after fleeing the Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic and after her cousin Natasha went in Miami. After finding herself in the magical world of Zafa, Pilar works to defeat the villains of Zafa (El Jefe and El Cuco) but also solve the mystery of why her cousin went missing.

Pilar Ramirez and the Escape from Zafa is a fun adventure story that intertwines magic with Dominican culture. Pilar herself is relatable Latinx protagonist who is rightfully suspicious of what her eyes are showing her and is always looking to investigate more. Pilar has confidence in her own abilities as an adventurer and her decision to join in the campaign against the villains in Zafa makes sense. The world building is deep in this novel as Zafa is a colorful place with coconut shaped predators and shape shifting butterflies.

review Pilar Ramierez Escape Zafa

The author Julian Randall does use some Spanish slang in Pilar’s vocabulary but that just makes her personality and culture shine. Anyone who grew up in a Spanish speaking home will appreciate the relatability of some of the things that Pilar’s family experiences especially those who have relatives that have had to flee their homes due to violent dictators. The sprinkling of Spanish words only strengthens Pilar’s connection to her community and culture. Perfect for young fans of adventure, I hope that Pilar Ramirez and the Escape from Zafa is the first in many adventures for this character.

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