A little girl steps into a piece of art and connects to a musician and artist from Hispaniola in a second book about the young girl’s introduction to different cultures (Sofi in the Magic, Musical Mural / Sofi y el mágico mural musical, 2015).
After Sofi is unable to create the color purple for art class, she leaves school frustrated. On her walk home, she finds a painter working in a nearby garden. Touching a painting, she finds herself meeting two important artists: Dominican Afro-Latin singer and composer Juan Luis Guerra and Haitian sculptor Guerlande Balan. Sofi helps Guerra finish the lyrics to a song and then makes a perfect purple to assist Balan with a statue. The book features blocks of text, English followed by Spanish, over mostly double-page spreads of Sofi’s adventure. While the story serves as a primer on some Haitian and Dominican terms and cultural touchstones, there’s not much to learn about Sofi herself, and the text doesn’t always rise to the occasion in either language. When she’s asked how she figured out how to make purple, Sofi says only and unsatisfyingly, “I guess I always knew. I just needed a little help from my friends.” What the book gets right is its advocacy for the power of art, even art that may seem out of reach at first.
Author Ortiz has a background in museums and making them more accessible, and in her work she makes a strong case for making those connections. (Bilingual picture book. 5-10)