Spring 2024

Cruzita and the Mariacheros

  • Interest Level: Grade 6 - Grade 8
  • Reading Level: Grade 6

Cruzita is going to be a pop star. All she has to do is win a singing contest at her favorite theme park and get famous. But she can’t go to the theme park this summer. Instead, she has to help out at her family’s bakery, which has been struggling ever since Tío Chuy died. Cruzita’s great-uncle poured his heart into the bakery—the family legacy—and now that he’s gone, nothing is the same.

When Cruzita’s not rolling uneven tortillas or trying to salvage rock-hard conchas, she has to take mariachi lessons, even though she doesn’t know how to play her great-grandpa’s violin and she’s not fluent in Spanish. At first, she’s convinced her whole summer will be a disaster. But as she discovers the heart and soul of mariachi music, she realizes that there’s more than one way to be a star―and more than one way to carry on a legacy.

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Interest Level Grade 6 - Grade 8
Reading Level Grade 6
Category Diverse Books: #OwnVoices, Diverse Books: Race & Ethnicity, Diversity, SEL: A Self-Awareness, SEL: B Self-Management, SEL: D Relationship Skills, SEL: E Responsible Decision-Making, Social Emotional Learning
Copyright 2024
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Carolrhoda Books ®
Language English
Number of Pages 248
Publication Date 2024-04-02
Text Type Fiction
BISACS JUV031040, JUV013030, JUV011030
Dewey [Fic]
Dimensions 5.5 x 8.25
Guided Reading Level X
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Author/Illustrator note, Reviewed, Starred Reviews, Teaching Guides, and eSource

Author: Ashley Granillo

Ashley Jean Granillo is a Mexican American writer and educator hailing from the San Fernando Valley. She has her BA and MA in Creative Writing from California State University Northridge and holds her MFA in fiction from the University of California Riverside, Palm Desert. She is also a member of Las Musas, a collective of Latinx authors whose gender identity aligns with femininity. Her short story "Besitos" was featured in Where Monsters Lurk & Magic Hides, a Latine/x short story genre anthology. Cruzita and the Mariacheros (Lerner Publishing) is her debut middle grade contemporary novel.

Lerner eSource™ offers free digital teaching and learning resources, including Common Core State Standards (CCSS) teaching guides. These guides, created by classroom teachers, offer short lessons and writing exercises that give students specific instruction and practice using Common Core skills and strategies. Lerner eSource also provides additional resources including online activities, downloadable/printable graphic organizers, and additional educational materials that would also support Common Core instruction. Download, share, pin, print, and save as many of these free resources as you like!

Cruzita and the Mariacheros

Cruzita is going to be a pop star. All she has to do is win a singing contest at her favorite theme park and get famous. But she can’t go to the theme park this summer. Instead, she has to help out at her family’s bakery, which has been struggling ever since Tío Chuy… View available downloads →

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Cruzita and the Mariacheros: Author Interview with Ashley Granillo

Lighthearted and honest, Cruzita and the Mariacheros explores music, family, heritage, and legacy with a touch of sweetness from delicious treats. Cruzita dreams of becoming a pop star, but for now she has to help out at her family’s struggling bakery, where nothing’s been the same since View →


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The Horn Book Magazine

“Cruz’s inner conflict and search for identity are sensitively drawn, and Granillo weaves a believable sense of community pride into the heartfelt and enjoyable story.”—Horn Book Magazine

School Library Journal

“Mariachi, family, and pan dulce are the ingredients for this perfect middle grade novel. Highly recommended for all middle grade collections.”—starred, School Library Journal


“This excellent debut has heart and soul, with an obvious deep love and appreciation for the culture in each word.”—Booklist

Publishers Weekly

“Granillo gently tempers the Tayahuas’ grief over Tio Chuy’s death by focusing on the characters’ lighthearted developing relationships and relates the feeling of being disconnected from one’s heritage via Cruzita’s learning more about her roots.”—Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

“Many readers will resonate with the demands on her time, and the children and grandchildren of immigrants will likely identify especially strongly with Cruzita’s journey toward connecting with her roots. A sweet summer quest for identity and belonging.”—Kirkus Reviews

Jennifer Torres

“A voice that sparkles!”—Jennifer Torres, author of Stef Soto, Taco Queen and The Do-Over

Michelle Mohrweis

“A delightful melody of hope and joy, grief and healing.”—Michelle Mohrweis, author of The Trouble with Robots

Rebecca Balcárcel

“Gritos for Cruzita! Granillo deftly captures the atmosphere of a classic panaderia and the spirit of mariachi. Strong themes of friendship and family create harmonies to make these pages sing!”— Rebecca Balcárcel, author of The Other Half of Happy and Shine On, Luz Véliz!

Sylvia Liu

“A love letter to the power of family, friendship, Mexican pastries, and mariachi.”—Sylvia Liu, award-winning author of Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation

Tanya Guerrero

“A must-read middle grade book full of heart, music, and mouthwatering Mexican pastries.”—Tanya Guerrero, award-winning author of All You Knead Is Love and Adrift

Tracy Badua

“A sweet, upbeat tale about family, friendship, and the journey to being authentically you. You’ll want to croon along with Cruzita, sink your teeth into conchas from Lupe’s, and turn the pages to a bidi bidi bom bom beat!”—Tracy Badua, author of The Takeout