by Eric Velasquez ‧ RELEASE DATE: N/A
In his debut as an author, Velasquez, illustrator of The Sound That Jazz Makes (2000) tells an entertaining first-person story (presumably autobiographical) of an unnamed Puerto Rican boy in the '50s who spends every summer with his grandmother in Spanish Harlem. The boy draws in his sketchbook as Grandma Carmen tells stories of her childhood in Puerto Rico and plays her much-loved records, especially her favorite song that she always listens to with one hand raised and her other hand over her heart. When the narrator and his grandma attend a concert by the most famous band in Puerto Rico, the band dedicates this special song to Grandma Carmen, and the audience members also listen with one hand raised and the other over their hearts. We learn along with the young narrator that "En Mi Viejo San Juan" is special to those of Puerto Rican heritage, capturing their longing for their homeland. The story ends with the grown narrator, now an artist in his own studio (painting this work's cover), remembering his grandma and playing her favorite song on his modern sound systemâ€”with his hand over his heart. Several Spanish sentences and phrases are worked into the text (with English translations), and the words to Grandma's song are also included in both Spanish and English. Velasquez is a talented painter whose illustrations capture the love between generations and the excitement of attending a live concert and meeting professional musicians. Thoughtful details add to the flavor of the period; tiny phonograph album covers fill the endpapers, historical artifacts to today's readers. Although we can't hear Grandma's song, this heart-felt story has a melody of its own. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-8)
Pub Date: N/A
Page Count: 32
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2001
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