My Abuelita is a great storyteller

February 12, 2010 at 11:33 am

My Abuelita, written by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Yuyi Morales; published by Harcourt Children’s Books, Boston; 2009.

The morning routine for Abuelita and her grandson is the same every morning.  The woman, with hair the color of salt and a body the shape of a pumpkin, gets ready for work with the help of her adoring grandson.  As the rhythm of the story progresses, we wonder what job requires the grandmother to yodel and dress is bright, billowing clothes?  You’ll have to read it to find out!

Johnston does a wonderful job of weaving Spanish words into the story; he also gently builds curiosity by making the morning’s routine a little more absurd with each page.  But the real gem of this book is Morales’ illustrations.  Each image was created with clay and wire and other realia, then photographed and digitally manipulated.  Her ingenuity is evident from the cover art: a hand-tooled silver frame around a portrait of grandmother and grandson.  Every image is injected with a bit of humor for readers to find.  I laughed and laughed at the round dimes flowing out of Abuelita’s mouth while she is “booming.”

Of course this would be an ideal multicultural book to read.  However, it would also be appropriate to add to a list of books for read-alouds, given that Abuelita’s career is storytelling; I would use it on the first day of story time or on a first visit to the school library.  Also, it would be wonderful to display for Grandparents’ Day because this relationship is so sweet.

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Entry filed under: Multicultural Picture Book, Pura Belpre Honor winner (narrative or illustration). Tags: , , , , .

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