Works in Progress

A Home for Elena

     A Home for Elena is a fictional chapter book for 3-5th graders based on Ninos De Mexico is an organization that takes in abandoned and abused children in the Mexico City area and raise them in families. They send them to school including college or tech school.  I am currently writing the draft of A Home for Elena. This is the first sample chapter.

In the Streets


Miguel clutched his sister’s hand as he guided her through the press of people. A burst of wind sent dust from the street into the air. Miguel wiped his face with the back of his hand and lowered his head while his little sister coughed. Finally, he navigated their way to a narrow alley and leaned against the whitewashed plaster wall of a small store. Elena looked up at him with her dark brown eyes. “I’m hungry.” She moaned. He shook his head and looked around at the strangers that went about their errands. They had spent their last pesos on a few tortillas for breakfast. They had tried to work by offering to do odd jobs but there was too much competition from others that found themselves in similar situations.

“We’ll try somewhere else in a few minutes.” Miguel told his sister before he slid down the side of the building in the places they passed at on the ground. Elena plopped down beside him. He knew without looking that she was frightened. Their father had died a few months ago so their mother had married someone else. However, the man had not wanted her children so they were dropped at an aunt’s house. They had lived in a two room house for a month when their aunt declared that she could not afford to feed them and take care of her own children, too. Since then they had gone from village washing windshields for drivers, selling discarded bottles to the store owners for the deposit money or begging when they could find no jobs. Miguel glanced at the sky. At least it was dry season so they did not have to sleep in the rain. However, the nights were growing cooler with the return of fall in the mountains of Mexico. Their clothes were dirty even though they tried to wash off as best they could when they found water. Now Elena was sick but Miguel could not buy the food and clothing needed. Certainly he could not afford a doctor. He wanted to go to school like so many of the village children but they had to work to eat.

“No one wants us.” Elena sighed as she nestled against him. Miguel reached over and stroked her thick brown braids. He choked down a tight lump in his throat. He wanted to find Elena a home more than anything. They had no other family that he knew of. Who would take in two deserted kids?   People barely made enough to live and take care of their own families.

“Come let’s go.” Miguel said as he pushed to his feet.

Two days later Miguel and Elena stopped in a village and sat at the fountain as Miguel counted the coins they had earned that morning. “We’ll have enough for dinner tonight.” He announced. However, Elena did not smile.

“I don’t feel good.” Elena told him. He reached over and wiped her hot forehead. He frowned as he looked at the sky. Great dark clouds rolled toward them. It had not rained for weeks. Even in the dry season, an occasional storm broke the pattern. By morning evidence of the storm would be gone but the residents welcomed the respite from the dust the plagued them now. Miguel wanted to shout at the storm clouds anyway. They must reach shelter or they would be soaked.

Miguel saw the church nearby so darted toward it, pulling his sister along.  They ran up the steps and just made it to a narrow, long room with two great wooden doors on one side. Miguel took a deep breath as the rain poured. The wind swept the dusty steps clean. Two other boys were standing on the other side of the room.  One held a few marbles in his hand as they watched the rain.

“If the rain stops I am going to the class. Its free and they play games and we get treats every Saturday. We can play later.” One of the boys said to the other. “You going to come? Its just out of town follow the road to the big house.”

Miguel’s ears peaked with interest. A free class and any kind of food that could get would be wonderful. He bent down and whispered to Elena. “We will follow them when they leave.” Elena nodded wearily.

The rain stopped as quickly as it had started. The dry ground eagerly soaked up the water. Instead, the ground was now hard packed instead of dusty. The air smelled fresh and clean as they stepped out of the church. The two boys rushed out into the sunlight light. Miguel hung back. The village was small so it was no surprise that they took the main road out and then walked down a gravel road. In some places, the road was rutted but well shaded by trees and brush. Off to the side, Miguel could see homes made of stones, wood, and other assorted materials, their tin roofs glinting in the sun. Some makeshift homes had ropes hung by them where wet clothes now dried.

The boys skipped and ran ahead of them but the road was wide enough that Miguel noticed when they turned. Elena trudged on beside him and Miguel tried to cheer her, “They said everyone got treats. Think of it, we can play and have something to eat.” Elena looked up with a faint smile but she looked like she was more interested in sleep at the moment. The road was straight now and Miguel could see ahead. The grass was on either side now with no other buildings. A small store that was little more than a shack sat at the end of a dirt drive. It was made of blocks and a man stood by an opening selling snacks and sodas. However, most children rushed past the store up the dirt road. Miguel could see a long white house now with a red brick porch on one side of the house.