A sweet look at what familia can mean.

MARIANA AND HER FAMILIA

A Mexican American child meets her whole extended familia for the first time.

In Mami’s small pink car, Mariana moves across the frontera and into “a jumble of mismatched buildings of all shapes and sizes” as she takes in the sights and sounds of México. Finally, the two of them arrive at Abuelita’s door, and Mariana grabs onto Mami as a shadow looms behind some drapes and a couple of other children peek out. Inside, Mariana’s whole family greets her, but not even Abuelita’s hug and kisses soothe Mariana’s worries. After all, who wouldn’t feel shy standing in “this house filled with brand-new people”? When Mariana hands out presents to her familia, she misspeaks and calls her Abuelita “agualita,” spurring the other children to start giggling. Embarrassed, Mariana retreats into herself until Abuelita comes to her aid with a storybook full of pictures, crispy quesadillas, and creamy frijoles and arroz, subtly teaching the girl Spanish words. By book’s end, Abuelita and Mariana—and everyone else—come together as familia. Measured in its empathy, this tale admirably explores a familial scenario that many readers will understand all too well. Kudos also to Meza’s eclectic, colorful artwork, which features double-page spreads full of slightly unusual perspectives that reflect Marians’s initial discomfort. Though Spanish words are unitalicized, during crucial moments, a few specific Spanish words appear on the page as vibrant standouts, a visual cue of shared affection. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet look at what familia can mean. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-296246-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez,...

MANGO, ABUELA, AND ME

Abuela is coming to stay with Mia and her parents. But how will they communicate if Mia speaks little Spanish and Abuela, little English? Could it be that a parrot named Mango is the solution?

The measured, evocative text describes how Mia’s español is not good enough to tell Abuela the things a grandmother should know. And Abuela’s English is too poquito to tell Mia all the stories a granddaughter wants to hear. Mia sets out to teach her Abuela English. A red feather Abuela has brought with her to remind her of a wild parrot that roosted in her mango trees back home gives Mia an idea. She and her mother buy a parrot they name Mango. And as Abuela and Mia teach Mango, and each other, to speak both Spanish and English, their “mouths [fill] with things to say.” The accompanying illustrations are charmingly executed in ink, gouache, and marker, “with a sprinkling of digital magic.” They depict a cheery urban neighborhood and a comfortable, small apartment. Readers from multigenerational immigrant families will recognize the all-too-familiar language barrier. They will also cheer for the warm and loving relationship between Abuela and Mia, which is evident in both text and illustrations even as the characters struggle to understand each other. A Spanish-language edition, Mango, Abuela, y yo, gracefully translated by Teresa Mlawer, publishes simultaneously.

This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez, an honoree. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6900-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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Sweet, good-hearted fun.

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THE SOUR GRAPE

From the Food Group series

A recovering curmudgeon narrates life lessons in the latest entry in the punny Food Group series.

Grape wasn’t always sour, as they explain in this origin story. Grape’s arc starts with an idyllic childhood within “a close-knit bunch” in a community of “about three thousand.” The sweet-to-sour switch begins when Grape plans an elaborate birthday party to which no one shows up. Going from “sweet” to “bitter,” “snappy,” and, finally, “sour,” Grape “scowled so much that my face got all squishy.” Minor grudges become major. An aha moment occurs when a run of bad luck makes Grape three hours late for a meetup with best friend Lenny, who’s just as acidic as Grape. After the irate lemon storms off, Grape recognizes their own behavior in Lenny. Alone, Grape begins to enjoy the charms of a lovely evening. Once home, the fruit browses through a box of memorabilia, discovering that the old birthday party invitation provided the wrong date! “I realized nobody’s perfect. Not even me.” Remaining pages reverse the downturn as Grape observes that minor setbacks are easily weathered when the emphasis is on talking, listening, and working things out. Oswald’s signature illustrations depict Grape and company with big eyes and tiny limbs. The best sight gag occurs early: Grape’s grandparents are depicted as elegant raisins. The lessons are as valuable as in previous outings, and kids won’t mind the slight preachiness. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, good-hearted fun. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-304541-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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