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Winner of the Pura Belpré Author Award
“Honest and exquisitely crafted.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she’s done to piss her off. Word is that Yaqui thinks Piddy is stuck-up, shakes her stuff when she walks, and isn’t Latin enough with her white skin, good grades, and no accent. And Yaqui isn’t kidding around, so Piddy better watch her back. At first Piddy is more concerned with trying to find out more about the father she’s never met and how to balance honors courses with her weekend job at the neighborhood hair salon. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy’s life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? Who is Piddy and who does she want to be? The all-too-realistic winner of the 2014 Pura Belpré Author Award from Newbery Medalist Meg Medina celebrates its tenth anniversary with a paperback edition with French flaps featuring a note from the author and updated back matter.
About the Author
Meg Medina, the 2023–2024 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, is a Cuban American author who writes for readers of all ages. Her middle-grade novel Merci Suárez Changes Gears received a Newbery Medal and was a New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Book of the Year, among many other distinctions. Its sequel, Merci Suárez Can’t Dance, received five starred reviews, while Merci Suárez Plays It Cool received four stars, with Kirkus Reviews calling it “a fabulous finale to a memorable trilogy.” Her most recent picture book, Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away, received honors including a Charlotte Zolotow Award and was the 2020 Jumpstart Read for the Record selection, reaching 2.24 million readers. She received a Pura Belpré Author Award Honor for her picture book Mango, Abuela, and Me. Her young adult novel Burn Baby Burn earned numerous distinctions, including being long-listed for the National Book Award and short-listed for the Kirkus Prize. Meg Medina received a Pura Belpré Author Award and a Cybils Award for her young adult novel Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, which has been adapted and illustrated as a graphic novel by Mel Valentine Vargas. She also received an Ezra Jack Keats Writer Award for her picture book Tía Isa Wants a Car. When she is not writing, Meg Medina works on community projects that support girls, Latino youth, and literacy. She lives with her family in Richmond, Virginia.
A nuanced, heart-wrenching and ultimately empowering story about bullying. . . . Interweaving themes of identity, escapism and body image, Medina takes what could be a didactic morality tale and spins it into something beautiful: a story rich in depth and heart...Far more than just a problem novel, this book sheds light on a serious issue without ever losing sight of its craft.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Medina emphasizes Piddy’s acute sense of isolation without overplaying it, and she absolutely respects the totality of Piddy’s quandary . . . The message here is that tough and unfair stuff is really tough and unfair, but it’s also survivable; that’s a takeaway that readers will recognize as both true and valuable.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)
Yaqui may think she’s tough, but it’s Piddy and some of the other female characters, namely Piddy’s mother and her mother’s flamboyant best friend Lila, who make more lasting impressions. Medina’s setting stands out as well . . . Teens will identify with Piddy’s struggle.
—The Horn Book (starred review)
The Latino cultural milieu adds a richness and texture that lifts this up above many problem novels. The plot points are dexterously intertwined, and the characters are distinct. A real bonus for those looking for a bullying book for older readers that is not simplistic.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass should be taught in schools, read by counselors and parents, and used as a tool to discuss the importance of finding your voice, telling the truth and asking for help.
—Common Sense Media
Amid an explosion of bully books, Meg Medina's novel stands out for its honesty about girl-on-girl violence and its intelligent, insightful narrator. . . . Medina brilliantly captures the sense of foreboding that envelops bully victims.
A powerful read! As tough and honest as its title, this novel takes an unflinching look at the unjust and cruel consequences of bullying. The story of Piddy Sanchez’s transformation is full of the kind of truth teen readers will instantly recognize. I highly recommend it.
I cried and cheered for Piddy in equal measure. Medina perfectly captures the devastating impact of bullying—and the powerful influence of kindness in recovery. I love this book and miss Piddy already!
Poignant, powerful, pull-your-heart-apart sad, snort-out-your-nose funny—a nuanced, honest telling of how courage and choice can triumph over the hell of being bullied.
—Carrie Jones, Author of the Need series and co-editor of Dear Bully
This is a charming, straightforward, captivating story with universal teen themes that should find a home in all high school fiction collections.
—Library Media Connection
Meg Medina is the author I studied, and still study, to learn how to write for children. Her ear is impeccable; the way she captures not only dialogue but also communicates adolescent feelings without being condescending nor pitching extra soft softballs. Few people get the balance of writing about and for teens right.
—Elizabeth Acevedo, New York Times bestselling author
Medina authentically portrays the emotional rigors of bullying through Piddy’s growing sense of claustrophobic dread, and even with no shortage of loving, supportive adults on her side, there’s no easy solution. With issues of ethnic identity, class conflict, body image, and domestic violence, this could have been an overstuffed problem novel; instead, it transcends with heartfelt, truthful writing that treats the complicated roots of bullying with respect.
The fast-moving plot explores family (especially mother–daughter) relationships, the importance of communication, and personal integrity. As Piddy witnesses and experiences abandonment, harassment, and brutalization, she realizes that her own reaction is most important. Her decision to make positive choices is a great example for teens. The story, fueled by the controversial title, holds cross-cultural appeal.
Piddy is a strong heroine whose sense of self is realistically jarred by her conflicting emotions. Medina effectively prods at the motivations behind bullying (without excusing it) and sensitively explores the delicate balance between belonging and maintaining individuality.
There’s a lot packed into this vibrant small book which will make it a favorite for teens. . . Lots of action with a realistic setting, dialogue, relationships, problems, and solutions make this book a winner. The cover—a blue locker with graffiti for the title—will attract reluctant readers. The content will keep them reading to the end and wanting more, especially to hear Yaqui’s story.
Books about bullying are on the rise as adults grapple with its causes and impact — and young people struggle to deal with it. This gritty novel manages to transcend the usual earnest fictional treatment by delivering a protagonist who is more than a mere victim and an ending that rings complicatedly true. . . . This unflinching novel, with its richly developed main character, deserves a place with two other nuanced bully books for teens: Rita Williams-Garcia’s JUMPED, a 2009 National Book Award finalist that explores the mindsets of bully, victim and bystander; and Adam Rex’s FAT VAMPIRE, in which a main character confronts her guilt as a cyberbully
—The Washington Post