Girl of the Year 2016: Lea and Camila

Author: Lisa Yee and Kellen Hertz
Illustrator: Sarah Davis


Because part of Camila's visit with her cousins in Chicago coincides with Lea's spring break, she's coming to St. Louis for the week. Lea, Camila, and Abby take a photography class together, and also plan to see many sights around the city.

While they're sight-seeing, Lea spots an old photograph of a young girl wearing a compass necklace like her grandmother's. The back reads, "Hallie. June 1956." Lea wants to continue investigating, but Camila's trip is going to be over soon. The urge to find out more about Hallie, who might have a connection to Ama, is hard to ignore even though Lea truly wants to be a good host. The mystery is made more intriguing by an entry in Ama's journal mentioning the necklace and a long-ago promise.

Meanwhile, Abby and Camila are becoming good friends. Lea feels a bit left out, but that's her own doing. She tries to focus on her friends, but their photography class takes a field trip to the Jewel Box, a famous garden--where it just so happens the picture of Hallie was taken. The girls figure out the even was likely her debutante ball. Lea decides to try to find mention of the ball in the city archives during a Cardinals game--Abby called and invited Camila, but not Lea because she only had one extra ticket. Lea tries to be rational, because after all she's not that into sports and Camila is only visiting briefly, but she feels left out again.

The girls sort it out, and the rest of the trip is spent seeing things Camila's interested in. As if to reward Lea's realization that she hasn't been a good host, a trip to search for a stray cat at an historic building they visited earlier reveals another clue about Hallie. While they're there, Abby spies the cat, and in trying to get it, nearly falls through a hole in the decrepit floor. Thinking quickly, Lea's able to get both her friend and the cat out of danger. Lea's parents are happy everyone's okay, but make sure they know the dangers of running around old buildings in the middle of restorations.

As Camila's visit draws to a close, she gathers her courage and goes up the Gateway Arch (yay, I was hoping she would!). She's very relieved to be back on solid ground, but also glad she did it. Camila also wants to help Lea find out more about Hallie, so she asks to visit the Missouri History Museum. With some perseverance, the three girls are able to find out that Hallie was a classmate of Ama's--and that she's still living in St. Louis. They drive over to visit, and after convincing her son to explain that Amanda Silva's granddaughter wants to visit, they meet Hallie. She's very gracious and tells the girls about her kinship with Amanda (they lost touch when Hallie's parents sent her to a boarding school) and how they bonded over a love of and desire to travel.

The weeks is about over, and the photography class ends with an exhibition of the students' work. Hallie and her son accept Lea's invitation to come. It turns out that her son is a real estate developer interested in doing a renovation--just what Lea's mom needs funding for. Hallie and Lea talk, and Hallie gives Lea her compass necklace, the one that matches Ama's.

The book closes with Camila saying her goodbyes and an email from Zac about the worsening poaching situation. He's decided to stay for a while to fight for the animals.


Dedicated to "Mary See. Thank you for always being there for me. -L. H." and "my grandmother Terry, who never let her fears stop her. Thank you for showing me what it means to live life to the fullest.  -K. H."

There's no appendix in this book.

Lea's dad's leg is healing, but not back to 100% yet.

Zac is working at a rehab clinic. Not the same one where Amanda is, though.

St. Louis schools had spring break the last week of March in 2016, not in April. Baseball season starts in April. The Cardinals played home games April 11, 13-20, 29, and 30. All those dates were during state-mandated school proficiency testing for St. Louis schools. They played three games against Milwaukee (winning 2, losing 1), three against Cincinnati (2-1), three against Chicago (1-2), and two against Washington, D.C. (plus one May 1, and lost all three). It would have been interesting if they went to the Chicago game, since Camila's cousins live there.

A good way to get rid of brain freeze is to press your tongue to the roof of your mouth.

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