Latasha and the Little Red Tornado

Children's Books, Middle Grade

By Michael Scotto

Publisher : Midlandia Press

ABOUT Michael Scotto

Michael Scotto
Michael Scotto has worked as a filmmaker, a saxophone player, and an engineer’s assistant, but his true passion has always been writing. He received his MFA in Dramatic Writing from Carnegie Mellon University, and today, Mr. Scotto is the author of three novels for children and the Tales More...


Latasha and the Little Red Tornado tells the story of Latasha Gandy, a precocious and inventive third-grader who lives in Pittsburgh with her hardworking mother and a naughty puppy named Ella Fitzgerald.

At eight years old, Latasha cannot wait to grow up. Ella, on the other hand, absolutely refuses to! When Ella's antics push the Gandy's landlady, Mrs. Okocho, to her wits' end, Latasha realizes that she must turn her mischievous mutt into a model dog. At turns hilarious and heartbreaking, this tale of friendship and maturity follows Latasha as she struggles with Ella, school, and her mother's absence from home.

When I sat down to write my first children's novel, I knew I wanted to write about three things: 1) a spunky elementary-aged girl 2) who lived in Pittsburgh with 3) a mischievous puppy. I was inspired to feature these elements by Ramona Quimby, who was and remains one of my favorite kid-lit characters; by the fact that Pittsburgh is my hometown and a city I love; and, of course, by the fact that I happen to own a very, very naughty dog myself. (She actually stars in the book trailer for Latasha and the Little Red Tornado.) Armed with these three elements, I began to write. From there, the story blossomed into what it is: a warm story about maturity, the desire for respect, and the conflict between what you want and what you really need. I've seen a lot of kids connect with this story as if I'd written it "just for them." I hope you, reader, will feel the same way.

Finalist, 2011 ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year, Juvenile Fiction

"[Scotto's] sense of childhood emotions is pitch perfect...Middle readers will appreciate seeing themselves in the quick-paced story; parents will like the questions the book raises about responsibility and friendship. A winning addition to children's literature." - Andi Diehn, ForeWord Reviews

"Latasha is a lively, appealing, if sometimes precocious, protagonist." - Shelle Rosenfeld, Booklist

"The premise is appealing...including a satisfying ending that's not too neat." - Kirkus Reviews

"Many children will identify with and enjoy this engaging, realistic novel for young readers...Recommended." - Library Media Connection

"An engaging...heartwarming story about an African-American girl and her canine friend learning what it means to grow up and be responsible, together." - Midwest Book Review