Dorros, A. (2009). Abuela. New York: Dutton Children's Books.
PLOT SUMMARY: A little girl and her grandmother go on a trip to the park. The girl imagines her and her Abuela soaring through the sky and exploring the town.
I liked the cloud endpages (and the enter into the plot later). It's a good imaginative beginning, encouraging readers to see the seemingly ordinary in an extraordinary way. Since some of the clouds are clearly shaped like people and birds, a lends for a teacher to encourage students to describe what they see, or students could draw or paint their own clouds in response. Then, if the weather is right, a class could go outside and do their own cloud watching.
The illustrations are detailed and beautifully illustrated, with tones of designs and patterns and colors. It's almost overwhelming. Heck, it is overwhelming. I mean look at this page!
But it makes the reader want to stare at the details of each illustration for...I'd say, minutes (sorry, I've never had the attention span for hours of staring).
The moments of magical realism within the story, say when the narrator and her Abuela take to the skies like birds ties wonderfully to a child's imagination and tendency to question "what if...."
By sharing this book in class, students from a Latino background will feel represented and welcomed into the classroom space. (And even better, there's a man who is clearly Jewish sitting beside the narrator and her abuela on the bus. Hazzah for cultural and racial representation!)
Also a plus, this type of book shares an experience that is accessible to any child who has relatives who do not speak the dominant language of a country. Since Abuela hints at the story of how the narrator's abuela came to the United States, older middle grade students could be given the assignment to ask their own family members about how and when they immigrated.
Since Spanish is worked into the English sentences, the book lends itself to be used for English or Spanish second language learners. While the meaning of both the Spanish and English can usually be sussed out by the context, there's still a glossary at the end to lend a helping hand.
Also, since the narrator and her abuela take the bus to the park, a teacher could discuss proper bus etiquette. And of course, after finishing discussion, a class can go off and have an adventure.
QUOTES OF NOTE:
"Abuela takes me on the bus. We go all around the city."
"Abuela speaks mostly Spanish because that's what people spoke where she grew up, before she came to this country."
"El parque es lindo," says Abuela.
I know what she means.
I think the park is beautiful too."
"We would fly all over the city.
"Mira," Abuela would say, pointing.
And I'd look, as we soared
over parks and streets, dogs and people."
TASY RATING: !!!