A young Latina girl has an unexpected encounter while accompanying her mother to work in this bilingual picture book touching on the immigrant experience.
When Felicia arrives by bus with her mother to her housekeeping job at a beautiful gated house with a fountain in front, she's told to behave. Felicia works with her coloring book, but she's restless. "I don't really like the headscarf, nor do I really like being here. / No me gusta el pañuelo que lleva en la cabeza, tampoco me gusta mucho estar aquí," she says. Felicia begins exploring the house, finding a nursery and a set of swings. Rather than get in trouble, Felicia is joined by the homeowner, a white woman who brings lemonade and cookies. Mrs. Fitzpatrick shares with Felicia the story of her own family's journey from Ireland for a better life. "That's what your mom wants for you too. / Eso es lo que tu mamá quere para ti," she tells Felicia. She gives Felicia a bracelet; its charms appear throughout the book, separating and symbolically tying in to the English and Spanish texts. With a deft and subtle touch, author Barbieri, the daughter of Salvadoran and Nicaraguan parents, captures a small but resonant moment. The reaction of Felicia's mother, for example, rings true. She's guarded about the gift at first, an open-ended response that encourages readers to wonder why.
With illustrations that suggest a sunny memory, Felicia's story shows the ways that she's part of a continuing cycle, rather than an outsider, and does it without belaboring the point. (Picture book. 4-8)