Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Review: The Secret Door by Minda Gomez

Today's read is geared toward chapter book readers—those who are pretty solid with reading but not quite ready for a full-fledged, middle grade novel. I'm not really sure about the plot on this one except that it contains three stories, teaches Spanish along the way, and keeps certain themes in mind. Oh, and there should be a wonderful splash of fantasy.

So, ready to take a peek and see where this one goes? 

Martinez Kids Adventures, Book One
by Minda Gomez
115 pages
ages 0 to 12 

Immerse yourself in the world of the Martinez Kids, three spunky bilingual children who have some exciting adventures!

Their elderly Mexican neighbor Don Toño invites their family to join him in his virtual reality invention (hidden in an inconspicuous garden shed), which allows them to experience life as animals. Join the kids as they scamper through the trees as squirrels, swim through the oceans as dolphins, whales, and sharks, and swing through a Mexican rainforest as spider monkeys.

This colorful, illustrated chapter book will capture the imaginations of your children. It is great for kids to read on their own, and is also a wonderful family read-aloud that will spark great conversations about important themes. As the kids navigate situations like peer pressure and the temptation to steal, their experiences in real life and in the animal world will lead them to draw their own conclusions. Go to for discussion questions that can guide your family's conversations after you read each adventure.

In addition, this book offers a fascinating glimpse into a bicultural Mexican-American family where English and Spanish blend naturally. Their Papi and neighbors Don Toño and Doña Rosa are positive examples of Mexicans living in the United States. The book comes with a glossary to help with pronunciations and meanings. At the end, find an easy recipe for quesadillas that you can make together!

Children and adults alike will be intrigued by this unique take on animals, culture, values, and imagination!

Join the Martinez kids for three exciting stories in one book!

  1. The Treetop Adventure (Contentment)
  2. The Undersea Adventure (Honesty)
  3. The Rainforest Adventure (Wisdom)

Social-Emotional Learning
Values - Contentment, Honesty, Wisdom (Peer pressure)
Mexican Culture and Foods
Spanish Language
Bicultural families



With a bit of adventure, animal fun, and a trio, who are ready to discover whatever they can, this is a read to enjoy...and so much more.

Set for those readers, who have a good grip on words but aren't quite ready for middle grade novels, this is a collection of three, short stories. Each one is broken down into four or five chapters and rotates around a theme: contentment, honesty, wisdom. For me, this already sets the alarm bells for preachy, but this definitely isn't the case. While each story does hold a message pertaining to the theme, by no means does the author allow themselves to get overly rooted in this idea and forget the tale. 

Each one centers around the Martinez siblings, two boys and a younger sister. They are an energetic trio and act just like brothers and sisters would. They argue, tease, whine, and stick together no matter what. They act very much their age and will have the reader wishing to go on the adventures right with them. And these are fun adventures.

The tales swim around a magical door in the neighbor couples garage. When the trio goes through this door, they are taken to a different landscape and transformed into animals before they dive into an adventure. These adventures are exciting and very age appropriate. The writing is at the level for those almost ready to head into larger reads. It flows mostly well and keeps the pacing high. There are just enough descriptions to make the world sit, but this never is over done. As an extra touch, colorful illustrations appear every few pages. These are especially nice when the animals are involved.

To add even more goodness, the author has included some Spanish words and phrases. At the beginning of the book, there is a list of the words, which are in the book, along with a definition and pronunciation. I found this nice, since it allows readers to already familiarize themselves with the words and see what they remember when they finally reach the words in the stories. A glimpse at the Mexican culture and foods is also presented as the siblings naturally interact with their family and neighbors. So, there is tons of things going on in these pages, and it all flows together well.

And here she is...

Minda lives in Minnesota with her husband Moisés and their three spunky bilingual kids. Their family has created their own brand of "Mexigringo" as they blend their Papi's Mexican culture with their Mami's Minnesotan culture.

She is a teacher of English Learners at a local elementary school. She has taught second grade in Mexico and volunteered in Guatemala, Peru, and other parts of Latin America.

Minda's passionate about teaching children to be proud of their bilingual superpowers. She is hopeful that her readers and her own kids will identify with the Martinez family, and remember that speaking more than one language is one of the many things that can make a kid special.

Instagram: @martinezkidsadventures 
Facebook: @martinezkidsadventures 

1 comment:

Minda Gomez said...

Thank you for the lovely review, Tonja! It has been a joy to get to know the Martinez Kids through this writing journey.