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.
Mrs. López announces to her class that they will be performing “La Raspa,” a traditional Mexican dance that Lupita knows well. She enthusiastically practices every day after school with her partner, Ernesto, and loves wearing the traditional costume prepared by her mother. However, on the day of the big dance, Ernesto suffers an injury and cannot participate. Lupita must decide what to do: give up and not take part in the dance she has been eagerly anticipating or risk embarrassment by joining the other pairs of dancers onstage by herself. To the initial surprise and then delight of her teacher, her family and everyone in the crowd, Lupita does not let the moment escape her. Though the story offers little development of the characters or plot beyond Lupita’s dilemma, the positive portrayal of a young girl brave enough to take a risk is noteworthy. The realistic illustrations successfully depict the movement of the dancers and the expressions of emotion, helping to elevate the book overall.
This straightforward presentation of Mexican-American culture and dance as celebrated by children has understated appeal. (Bilingual picture book. 5-8)