Soon-to-be ten year old Miguel and his younger sister Juanita have just moved from New York City to an old farmhouse in Vermont after their parents' divorce, and they are finding that transitions like this are not easy. Miguel is having trouble making friends because he feels different from the other kids, and this new small town just doesn't feel like home. When their mom needs extra help with the kids because she works all day, she asks her Tia Lola from back home in the Dominican Republic to come stay. Tia Lola is the most flamboyant lady Miguel and Juanita have ever seen! And she brings all sorts of strange things with her, like musical instruments, spices, and foods that the kids have never heard of before. At first Miguel is embarrassed by Tia Lola and tries to keep her a secret from the new friends he is making, but eventually Miguel comes to see that there is something rather magical about his aunt, and he may not want her to leave after all.