Books by Gabriela Baeza Ventura

WHEN JULIA DANCED BOMBA / CUANDO JULIA BAILABA BOMBA by Raquel M. Ortiz
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 31, 2019

"A solid reminder of music's power and a good primer on Puerto Rican dance culture. (Picture book. 5-8)"
Afro-Puerto Rican dance traditions are celebrated through one girl's breakthrough moment with bomba. Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 31, 2019

"A real hoot. (Fantasy. 8-12)"
Young monster hunter Vincent Ventura faces his next greatest foe…the dreaded witch owl! Read full book review >
THE BOY WHO TOUCHED THE STARS / EL NIÑO QUE ALCANZÓ LAS ESTRELLAS by José M. Hernández
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 31, 2019

"This outstanding bilingual autobiography encapsulates the life-changing power of having a goal and the will to achieve it. (Bilingual picture book/biography. 7-12)"
Working the fields of California's Central Valley by day and staring up at the stars by night, young José M. Hernández had an impossible dream: to become an astronaut. Read full book review >
GROWING UP ON THE PLAYGROUND/NUESTRO PATIO DE RECREO by James Luna
Released: Oct. 31, 2018

"Fails to engage. (Bilingual picture book. 5-8)"
Ana and her friends enjoy the school playground until they outgrow it in the sixth grade. Read full book review >
THE CURSE OF THE BULLY'S WRATH / LA MALDICIÓN DE LA IRA DEL ABUSÓN by René Saldaña Jr.
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 31, 2018

"A welcome return to Mickey's primarily Latinx world. (Mystery. 8-12)"
In Mickey Rangel's fifth mystery, like many kids his age, the title character is faced with a new kid in class who is less than welcoming. But how do you help someone who doesn't want to change? Read full book review >
MAYA AND ANNIE ON SATURDAYS AND SUNDAYS / LOS SÁBADOS Y DOMINGOS DE MAYA Y ANNIE by Gwendolyn Zepeda
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 31, 2018

"A lovely multicultural story about a young friendship, celebrating culture and differences. (Bilingual picture book. 3-7)"
A childhood friendship and cultural acceptance are at the center of this authentic, special story. Read full book review >
AGUA, AGÜITA / WATER, LITTLE WATER by Jorge Argueta
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 31, 2017

"Hopefully this poem will spark conversations not only about water, its cycle, and life-giving importance, but also about the different cultures in our hemisphere. (Poetry. 5-10)"
In this bilingual (Spanish/English) book the poet reminds readers that water is life. Read full book review >
MAYANITO'S NEW FRIENDS / LOS NUEVOS AMIGOS DE MAYANITO by Tato Laviera
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 31, 2017

"A good way to segue into a discussion on the haphazard nature of readers' own dreams. (Bilingual picture book. 5-8)"
In this bilingual story a Mayan boy goes on a fantastical adventure—or is it a dream? Read full book review >
DENNIS CHÁVEZ by Cissie Coy
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 31, 2017

"Quibble aside, the historically notable achievements of this great but nearly forgotten American qualify this title as a must-read. (Biography. 8-12)"
Dennis (Dionisio) Chávez had his work cut out for him in 1935 as the first U.S.-born Latino senator. Read full book review >
ESTEBAN DE LUNA, BABY RESCUER! / ESTEBAN DE LUNA, RESCATADOR DE BEBÉS! by Larissa M. Mercado-López
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 31, 2017

"A serviceable outing for an unusual young hero. (Picture book. 5-8)"
What good is a cape when you have no superpowers? Read full book review >
THE LITTLE DOCTOR / EL DOCTORCITO by Juan J. Guerra
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 31, 2017

"The stilted and didactic dialogue takes this potentially useful bilingual title from inspirational to self-congratulatory. (Picture book. 5-9)"
Ten-year-old Salvador accompanies his grandmother, who does not speak English, to a community clinic in order to translate for her. Read full book review >
A SURPRISE FOR TERESITA / UNA SORPRESA PARA TERESITA by Virginia Sánchez-Korrol
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 31, 2017

"Teresita's anticipation will ring true to any kid who's been saddled with an evening birthday party. (Bilingual picture book. 5-9)"
A young girl celebrating her birthday waits for a gift from her uncle, absorbing the sights and sounds of her city neighborhood. Read full book review >
ROOSTER JOE AND THE BULLY / EL GALLO JOE Y EL ABUSÓN by Xavier Garza
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 31, 2016

"Well-meaning but a miss. (Fiction. 10-12)"
After observing the roosters in his artist grandpa's backyard, seventh-grader Joe López can't get enough of these indomitable avians. Read full book review >
THE CASE OF THE THREE KINGS / EL CASO DE LOS REYES MAGOS by Alidis Vicente
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 31, 2016

" A mystery serving as a gateway into Puerto Rican culture, traditions, and panorama, narrated by a one-of-a-kind Latina gumshoe. (Bilingual mystery. 8-12)"
Precocious self-styled Detective Flaca returns, now 11 years old, in a mystery set in Puerto Rico. Read full book review >
THE PLACE WHERE YOU LIVE / EL LUGAR DONDE VIVES by James Luna
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 31, 2015

"A lighthearted celebration of a child's sense of place and belonging. (Bilingual picture book. 4-6)"
From enjoying tortillas and hot chocolate with their abuela to finishing a long day in their parents' arms, two siblings explore the place where they live. Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 31, 2015

"Benign but bland. (Bilingual picture book. 4-7)"
Darío is excited for his younger brother Ariel's upcoming birthday. How will the family celebrate? Read full book review >
THE REMEMBERING DAY / EL DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS by Pat Mora
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 31, 2015

"Readers might choose this book thinking they will find out more about this well-known Mexican tradition; instead, they will find a warm family story. (author's note) (Bilingual picture book. 5-8)"
Mora worries that the Mexican tradition of honoring their dead on the Día de los Muertos may be misunderstood and become commercialized, so, the author offers this imagined story of how a "remembering day" to honor loved ones now dead might have started in the distant past. Read full book review >
SOFI AND THE MAGIC, MUSICAL MURAL / SOFI Y EL MÁGICO MURAL MUSICAL by Raquel M. Ortiz
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 31, 2015

"Overall, this serves more as an overt endorsement for public art than a fully engaging and nuanced story for children. (glossary) (Bilingual picture book. 5-8)"
Young Sofía walks to the bodega near her apartment to buy milk for her mom. From the sidewalk, she becomes entranced by a vibrant public mural that celebrates Puerto Rican culture. Read full book review >
FRANCISCO'S KITES / LAS COMETAS DE FRANCISCO by Alicia Z. Klepeis
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 31, 2015

"Francisco's transformation from pensive newcomer to entrepreneurial kite master is inspiring and well-detailed in this successful slice of life. (Picture book. 6-10)"
A resourceful boy in a new town discovers a talent for giving old scraps flight in this immigrant's story. Read full book review >
CECILIA AND MIGUEL ARE BEST FRIENDS / CECILIA Y MIGUEL SON MEJORES AMIGOS by Diane Gonzales Bertrand
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 31, 2014

"Nevertheless, an infectiously warm celebration of friendship. (Picture book. 5-8)"
A childhood friendship remains steady and true throughout teenage years and beyond into adult life and marriage. Read full book review >
DALIA'S WONDROUS HAIR / EL CABELLO MARAVILLOSO DE DALIA by Laura Lacámara
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 31, 2014

"A delightful account of one fanciful little girl's enchanted day in Cuba. (Bilingual picture book. 3-6)"
One magical morning, Dalia awakes to find her hair has grown up toward the sky, "tall and thick as a Cuban royal palm tree." Read full book review >
LUPITA'S FIRST DANCE / EL PRIMER BAILE DE LUPITA by Lupe Ruiz-Flores
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 30, 2013

"This straightforward presentation of Mexican-American culture and dance as celebrated by children has understated appeal. (Bilingual picture book. 5-8)"
First-grader Lupita faces a tough decision in this bilingual story set in the American Southwest when she is suddenly left without a dancing partner for her school celebration of Children's Day/el Día del Niño. Read full book review >
THE CUCUY STOLE MY CASCARONES / EL COCO ME ROBO LOS CASCARONES by Spelile Rivas
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 30, 2013

"Weak character development, poor design and graceless art will leave readers dissatisfied. (Bilingual picture book. 3-6)"
A disappointing bilingual offering. Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 30, 2013

"Short and sweet, this book is a good choice for reluctant and early readers, while its humorous content will appeal to fans of comedy. Chuckle-inducing fun. (Mystery. 6-9)"
A bilingual early chapter book inducts a new character into the pantheon of precocious child detectives. Read full book review >
THE PATCHWORK GARDEN / PEDACITOS DE HUERTO by Diane  de Anda
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 31, 2013

"A worthwhile, eco-friendly bilingual edition. (Picture book. 5-10)"
A grandmother's vision and instruction inspires a little girl to change the desolate look of her inner-city neighborhood by encouraging the community to plant a series of vegetable gardens. Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 31, 2012

"Sofía's best realization is that her new lifestyle can lead to other positive accomplishments, which helps to cut the didacticism of this good-hearted book. (activity sheet) (Picture book. 5-8)"
A quinceañera and a special purple dress serve as inspiration for a little girl to change her lifestyle with exercise and healthier foods. Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 31, 2012

"The simplicity of the suggested idea that homemade fruit juice will always be fun to make and delicious to drink is appealing. (Picture book. 6-8)"
The fruit-blended juice drinks known as aguas frescas offered at a fair inspire a little girl and her mother to serve their own version after soccer practice. Read full book review >
A DAY WITHOUT SUGAR / UN DÍA SIN AZÚCAR by Diane  de Anda
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 31, 2012

"Though the focus on sugar is apparent, an underlining theme of balancing nutrition with exercise rounds out the purpose-filled story told with a fluent dual English and Spanish text. (Picture book. 6-8)"
A risk of family diabetes prompts Tía Sofía to teach her nieces and nephews about alternatives to sugar when choosing meals and snacks. Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 30, 2012

"Mild chills in either language. (Short stories. 10-12)"
"La Llorona" and other traditional bugaboos from Mexican-American lore find modern young victims in this bilingual set of South Texas tales. Read full book review >
CLARA AND THE CURANDERA / <i>CLARA Y LA CURANDERA</i> by Monica Brown
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2011

"A charming tale almost any child (and parent) can relate to. (Picture book. 4-7)"
In Brown's latest bilingual offering, a grumpy little Latina girl gets a subtle lesson in caring, sharing and the pleasures of reading. Read full book review >
GRANDMA'S CHOCOLATE / EL CHOCOLATE DE ABUELITA by Mara Price
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 30, 2010

Sabrina's much-loved grandmother's latest visit from Mexico is filled with gifts and interesting tidbits about chocolate, Mayan culture and history. Musical instruments, a traditional blouse (huipil) and pretty ribbons to weave in her hair allow Sabrina to play, dress and feel like a Mayan princess. Sabrina is mostly intrigued by the chocolate bars, which come from the all-important cacao tree, the seeds of which were used by the Mayans in their religious observances, bartering practices and, of course, the making of hot and cold chocolate treats. A gentle, well-translated bilingual text infused with a wise and loving family elder's teaching is accompanied by earthy, gouache paintings of a round-figured abuelita with her beautiful, Mayan-featured granddaughter. Loose, tan-colored drawings of ancient Mayan scenes are frequently juxtaposed against the full-color modern settings to emphasize Sabrina's cultural heritage; when she and her abuelita go to the market, for instance, they are depicted straddling two worlds, a monochromatic ancient Mexico on the left, and a modern supermarket on the right. A sweet and loving way to introduce history through family connections. (Picture book. 5-9)Read full book review >
GROWING UP WITH TAMALES/LOS TAMALES DE ANA by Gwendolyn Zepeda
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 31, 2008

Six-year-old Ana can't wait until she is eight, so she can be more grown-up like her big sister Lidia. Together, in this blithe bilingual tale, the sisters make tamales for Christmas, and with each passing year their responsibilities grow. As Ana dreams of life at ten (knowing songs on the radio), 12 (not being afraid), up to 18 (owning her own business), she measures her growth through the tasks awarded in their tamale-making tradition. Zepeda's charming story celebrates the satisfaction found in accomplishing a goal—no matter how big or small—and the trust new responsibility engenders. Ward's illustrations, while at times inconsistent, lend an honesty and warmth to the text. Her additive use of color and the immediacy of her brush-stroke effectively convey the love and longing of a little sister—and the patience and constancy of an older sibling. Young readers will delight in Zepeda's use of repetition and will giggle over the story's jocular ending. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
ANIMALS
Released: April 30, 2006

Once again an animal plays a central role in Villaseñor's story, but this time the other characters are human. When a stranger walks into the small town of Carlsbad, Calif., both children and adults primarily notice the scar that disfigures his face and refuse to interact or offer him the work he seeks. But when he shows up on Sunday after church, carrying his rooster with a bright ribbon around its neck, the ice is broken: The powerful bird, lunging after crickets, almost pulls the man off of his feet. When he finally manages to restrain the rooster, and while everyone is roaring with laughter, the children approach to pet the bird and the adults to introduce themselves. Villaseñor's lesson against judging by appearances is apparent, but the heart of the story is the humor inherent in the rooster's greedy hunger. Jara's illustrations are detailed, featuring slightly exaggerated faces and the desert flora and simple adobe dwellings of southern California several decades in the past. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
PEPITA PACKS UP/PEPITA EMPACA by Ofelia Dumas Lachtman
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 30, 2005

On moving day, Pepita does not want to say goodbye to her friends and neighbors because doing so makes her cry. She uses their suggestions instead—"I'll be seeing you," "Go with God," "Until tomorrow." But faced with her best friend Sonya's tears, Pepita cries too. Lachtman's text combines a traumatic event—moving to a new neighborhood—with the comfort of loving family and neighbors and the pleasure of meeting a new friend. Pepita's last visits combine predictability with variety as each person suggests a different way of not saying goodbye. DeLange's full-page illustrations combine black outlines with pastel sweeps of color for vivid, almost two-dimensional scenes in which the slightly rounded people in some ways resemble dolls. They face English and Spanish texts in large, easy-to-read print. The Spanish translation is adept, in some places reading even more fluidly than the English original. While not an essential purchase, Pepita's latest adventure will be welcome in libraries where the earlier books are popular and those in which more bilingual titles are necessary. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >