Paco is a fidgety daydreamer.
After his teacher reprimands him for not paying attention, the boy compromises by drawing during the lesson. His teacher is amazed by the artwork and takes him to the school’s art studio, where the inexperienced artist miraculously knows how to mix paint. Alarmingly, no one seems concerned when Paco doesn’t return to the classroom. Kyle’s uncomplicated rhyming story employs code-switching to introduce Spanish-language vocabulary. However, the masculine form for teacher, el professor, is only used once—thereafter, it’s used as if it were a proper name without the article “el”—an oversight that will strike many as amateurish. The rhymes and meters are at times forced and awkward. “He colored montañas that stretched to the sky, / with pájaros swooping down low, flying high.” Heinsz’s manga-inspired illustrations are bright but confusing. In one scene Paco is drawing his hometown seemingly somewhere in Spain, and then he’s flying over saguaros in the U.S. Southwest. A bullfighting motif is repeated by both author and illustrator despite its growing unpopularity worldwide and its representation of colonization. The author’s note inadvertently implies that only minority kids “like Paco” are the restless ones. An uneven phonetic glossary is included. Some words are Anglicized while others are not. “Que” is “kay” instead of “keh,” while “Olé” is correctly rendered “oh-LEH.” Paco has black hair and brown skin, and his teacher presents white; his classroom is diverse.
Not, alas, as strong as Kyle’s earlier Gazpacho for Nacho (illustrated by Carolina Farías, 2014). (Picture book. 5-8)