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MY LITTLE CAR by Gary Soto


by Gary Soto & illustrated by Pam Paparone

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: April 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-399-23220-6
Publisher: Putnam

Mexican-American first-grader Teresa feels too old for her tricycle, and she’s overjoyed when her Grandpa Benny sends her a pedal-powered low-rider with personalized plates and flame decals. She proudly drives it through the neighborhood and “makes it dance” for the kids at the playground. But Teresa leaves it out in the rain and doesn’t keep it clean. Her father nearly backs over it. Then, despite its dilapidated state, the little car saves her from a scary dog and she decides to fix it up. Grandpa Benny stops by to see the car, but doesn’t recognize it; he says it looks older than him. Teresa assures him he’s not old and they fix the car up together. She even lets her little sister Pumpkin sit in it, as they attach “chile” headlamps. The simple story, peppered with Spanish words—explained textually and in the glossary at the front—is well told and never didactic. Paparone’s bright, acrylic illustrations bring Tomie dePaola’s work to mind; they’re a perfect match for the text. A multicultural lesson with lots of zip. (Picture book. 4-8)