Book Review: Saygar The Magnificent
A Human Ant In The Classroom?
When third-grader Joseph Mateo captures an ant in a soda bottle to bring as a show-and-tell project, he is shocked by the sudden appearance of a weird kid in the classroom closet. This wasn’t some ordinary kid – it was his ant in the classroom closet. This wasn’t some ordinary kid- it was his ant from that morning miraculously transformed into a human! Joseph’s no drama life is turned upside down as he tries to find a way to return the ant back to the anthill before anyone finds out. With jittery nerves and a heartbeat away from an anxiety attack, Joseph finds clothes for the ant, names him Saygar A. Hill, and drags him into Ms. Kelly’s classroom. Join the adventures of Jospeh and Saygar in this one-of-a-kind book as they struggle to keep their secret from being discovered. Can they succeed?
Saygar the Magnificient is a cute little chapter book great for young children about a 3rd-grade boy and his adventures with his new friend Saygar, his bottled ant turned human. When Joseph’s bottled ant for show and tell escapes and grows into a human ant, Joseph must figure out how to help his new friend, Saygar fit in until they can come up with a solution on how to return him back to normal.
Although Saygar goes through a physical transformation, from ant to human, the real change comes from Joseph and the kids from Room 106. Throughout the story, Joseph undergoes several changes, including stepping out of his comfort zone and becoming more outspoken and confident.
Saygar the Magnificient is not only funny but relatable to kids everywhere. Young children will be able to not only relate to Joseph, but I am sure, have experienced classmates like the students from room 106.
I also love that this story has a multicultural theme that broadens the reader’s knowledge of Mexican American culture. Saygar The Magnificient gives readers a little sneak peek of life in a Mexican household. Elizabeth Jurardo includes Spanish words such as Abuela, Mijo, and Tia that are easy for readers to say and learn.
This multicultural children’s book also serves valuable purposes for young children to see themselves in this story just as my children have. As I read the story with my daughter, she quite often stopped and compared herself to Joseph and his experiences. She gave me an example of when her Abuelita told her about El Cucuy and how she also ate huevos con chorizo as he did.
Saygar The Magnificent is a funny, action-packed, story that all kids can learn a lesson from. This book is sure to be a hit with your kids, and I know you will love it too!
Where Can I Find Saygar The Magnificent?
About the Author, Elizabeth Jurado
“I have been married for 24 years, and I am the mother of three sons. A big part of my family is my two rescue cats and my 14-year-old chihuahua. I was born and raised in the border city of El Paso, Texas, where I remained to raise my sons. I worked as a substitute teacher and a first-grade teacher for several years before deciding to put my career aside to become a full-time mother. It was a difficult decision at that time, but after raising my sons, I’m so glad that I did it! With my two oldest sons close to graduating
from college and my youngest son beginning his senior year in high school, I have made another life-altering decision to make my dream of becoming an author into reality.”
Rapid Fire with Elizabeth Jurado
Q. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Elizabeth: As a young girl, I used to write stories in a spiral notebook and read a whole lot of books. In a time where there was no such thing as smartphones or the internet, it was what I did for fun. As I matured, I put that notebook away. It was not until I was attending the University of Texas at El Paso did I return to writing. I was enrolled in a Children’s Literature class, where I had to write stories. The love of writing came back to me, which triggered a deep secret wish of one day becoming a writer.
Q. What does your family think of your writing?
Elizabeth: No one really took my writing too seriously. Saygar’s story was a long-term project that I worked on when my three sons were very young. I had to wait for a quiet time during the day to write, which was almost never. It took me years of squeezing free time from my day, several computer crashes resulting in losing all my work, and many rewrites to finally complete the book. No one thought I would one day say, “I’m done!” This year my youngest son came to me and said, “Mom, it’s time to get your book published. If not, now, when?” He took the steps in getting me introduced to Lisa Caprelli, who took my story and made it a published book.
Q. What do you think makes a good story?
Elizabeth: I feel it is important that the readers connect to the characters of the story. Readers need to love the characters or enjoy disliking the characters. To evoke such emotions, I feel you get that by writing about something you know and have experienced.
Q. What inspires you as a writer?
Elizabeth: Living in El Paso, with the Rio Grande River just down the street from my childhood home, allowed me to experience life uniquely. As a child, I stood on the embankments of the river that separated two countries and watched children from Mexico playing on their side of the river. Throughout my life, the two cultures, the American and Mexican, merged into one. I saw it in the people around me, in the food, in the language, and in the music. I saw it the schools I attended as a child and later worked in as a teacher. It was those experiences that inspired me as a writer.
Q. What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Elizabeth: I get up early on weekends to walk several miles at a local park. This is my Mom-Time. I use this time to think without interruptions. I also enjoy gardening. I find tending to my flowers, my favorite of which are roses, to be very therapeutic. While I water my flowers and pull weeds, my two cats and my chihuahua, who is my constant companion, follow me around my garden with great interest in all that I do.
Q. What does your creative process look like?
Elizabeth: With Saygar, I kept seeing the story playing over and over in my head. It was like watching a movie. When I sat down to write it, I could mentally slow it down to get the details. I remember thinking I would write it as a children’s picture book. There was so much of it that when I finished, the story ended up being a chapter book. I still see the Saygar story playing in me, which means there will be a sequel.
Q. Are you working on anything at the present that you would like to share with your readers about?
Elizabeth: I am working on continuing Saygar’s story which takes place during October with Halloween and La Llorona (a Mexican urban legend) on the minds of Joseph and Saygar. In preparation for Halloween, Joseph gives Saygar a superhero cape. Saygar puts on the cape believing he is an actual superhero. This leads to Joseph and Saygar’s continuing battles with Marcie, The Moose, and other misadventures.
Q. What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
Elizabeth: My inspirations come from my life long observation of the world of children as a child myself and through my work as a student teacher, substitute teacher, and as a first-grade teacher. From bossy Marcie, or “little accident” Ezequiel, to brainy Irwin and Saygar, all my characters were inspired by some child I met somewhere in my life.
Q. What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
Elizabeth: Being a shy girl who had trouble making friends, I retreated to the world of books. My favorite authors were Beverly Cleary and Eleanor Estes. I loved books that made me forget how hard things were in school and replace my worries with laughter. My two favorite authors greatly influence my style of writing. I wrote Saygar in hopes that I could reach out to all those bookworms who might need a reason to laugh.
Q. Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will grasp?
Elizabeth: There are two messages that I hope will come through. The first is that many of us, both children and adults, underestimate our own abilities. We readily have a list of things we cannot or will not do out of the fear of failure. The character, Joseph, keeps his head down, stays away from drama, and has a firm belief that he is lousy at doing stuff. He stays hidden within the walls of his comfort zone. Meeting Saygar throws Joseph out of his comfort zone and into the whirlwind of high drama. Joseph, as he fights off anxiety attacks, meets all the challenges. I hope my readers grasp they should not be afraid of venturing out of their comfort zone. The second message is to give a person a chance before passing judgment on them. Saygar looks different and comes from an unknown place. Joseph first views Saygar as a curse or a monster. As the days go by, Joseph sees beyond Saygar’s bizarre complexion and mannerisms to begin seeing him as a friend. This odd friendship makes Joseph a better person.
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All in all, my family and I have really enjoyed this book and we know you will too! Please feel free to leave me any comments or questions about this review. I look forward to hearing from you!
* This book was kindly sent to me by Author, Elizabeth Jurado in exchange for an honest review.