When Lionel, a thirteen year old Latino boy convinces his best friend, Anisa, to sneak into a local construction site with him, neither is prepared for what they find. Wrapped in a t-shirt and left in a Porta-Potti is a newborn baby girl. Lionel and Anisa spring into action and vow to protect Baby Doe at all costs even when adults try to take matters out of their hands. But Lionel knows what it means to be abandoned by a parent. His dad left him years ago, and he’s determined Baby Doe will grow up knowing she is loved.
Desperate to keep her out of foster care and convince his mom that they should take her in, Lionel realizes the first thing he needs to take care of a baby is money. So when a local dealer, offers him a high-stakes way to make some fast cash, Lionel must make a decision. How far is he really willing to go to save Baby Doe?
The Horn Book: "Vigilante's finely tuned depiction of Lionel's neighborhood and of his jumbled feelings...is both believable and engaging... a great selection for middle school readers, who will empathize with Lionel throughout."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (BCCB): "Vigilante writes about tough subjects with an engaging clarity and a tender touch."
Booklist: "Touchy topics...are tackled frankly and with tremendous insight. Many aspects of this book are especially welcome for middle-grade fiction, including the authentic urban setting...and a cast of multidimensional Latino characters."
Kirkus: "Vibrant setting and three-dimensional cast...appealing tale of urban friendship."
THE TROUBLE WITH HALF A MOON G.P. Putnam’s Sons: January 6, 2011:
A Sunshine State Young Readers Award Nominee 2012-2013
Thirteen year old Dellie lives with the guilt that her little brother's death was her fault. Her mother cries all the time and because she wants Dellie to stay safe, she keeps her inside as much as she can. It doesn't matter that Dellie longs to go outside to be like other girls or that there's a boy she likes and he likes her too. All that matters to her mother is that she's safe at home. So, Dellie has no choice but to watch the world of her housing project through her second story window.
Things start to change soon after new neighbors move in on the first floor. Trouble like this has never happened in Dellie's building before. Now there are men fighting on the stoop, gunshots echoing through the night and Corey, a hungry and abused five year old boy knocking on her door looking for something to eat. Corey reminds Dellie of her brother and even though their friendship is dangerous, she wonders if this time, she'll be able to do what needs to be done. Will she be able to save Corey?
School Library Journal:
"Dellie’s story will speak to young people who’ve needed a little faith to get them through tough times. Interesting scenarios, like the cloaked Jamaican woman who moves in next door, provide interest to an already well-developed story."
“The first-person, present-tense narration allows readers to feel Dellie’s pain and confusion…Readers cannot help but cheer for Dellie and the little boy who helps pull her family together. Rich secondary characters add depth and dimension to this fast-paced tale of bereavement, forgiveness and healing.”
“What will grab readers in this first novel is the realistic sense of the diverse neighborhood community, both rough and caring. With lots of fast, immediate dialogue, the characters’ grief, anger, and heartbreaking coming-to-terms are realistic.”