The adventures of Arturo continue (Arturo and the Navidad Birds, 2013) as he and his grandmother prepare a Salvadoran-style welcome-to-the-family dinner for Tía Inés’ fiance, Michael.
The interaction between Abue Rosa and her young grandson is comfortable and loving as they go about preparing pupusas, stuffed, tortillalike fried corn cakes. Together, they settle on a pickled slaw called curtido, fried plantains, chocolate almond cake, and fruit salad for the menu. Abue sets aside the hot pupusas, complaining of a headache. Instead of taking aspirin and plowing on, she welcomes Arturo’s invitation to lie down for a nap: “Why don’t you rest, Abue?” “Gracias, m’ijo. I will,” she says. “Call me in a few minutes and I will finish cooking.” Adding this smidgen of tension to an otherwise lightweight feel-good tale appears to be this subplot’s sole purpose. And it strains credulity. No nana worth her salt is going to let a headache get in her way when only the pupusas are ready—the curtido alone needs to rest in the fridge a minimum of two hours according to the appended recipe. Needless to say, Arturo’s ingenuity saves the day. He hastily assembles kid-friendly substitutions to the happy amazement of all. Lewis’ warm palette cocoons the characters in manifest familial love. In addition to the recipes and an author’s note, a glossary featuring many Anglicized phonetic pronunciations—“OB-way” for Abue instead of “Ah-bweh”—is included.
Fans of uncomplicated, familycentric stories won’t be disappointed. (Bilingual picture book. 4-7)