What Can You Do With a Paleta?

WhatCanYouDoWith

Image Credit: Tricycle Press (Ten Speed Press), Carmen Tafolla/Magaly Morales

What Can You Do With a Paleta? is a joyful celebration of summer and community. The little girl’s barrio is rich, vibrant and full of juicy paletas!  Summertime isn’t complete without a cold sweet treat to cool you down and in this book we learn all the things that can be done with a paleta…

Food is community; it brings people together. In the girl’s barrio, the tinkling bell of the paleta wagon mixed with the smell of fresh buttery tortillas is distinct and welcoming. We follow her as she shows us how a paleta can help make new friends, how an icy blue one leaves a big blue mustache and how giving someone a paleta can make their day! I love how Carmen Tafolla opens the book with a lyrical, visual description of the barrio and ends with the same words. This creates the feeling of being invited to the barrio and as we leave, we’re reminded of the sweet smells, flavors and sights of our visit. It’s lovely!

Magaly Morales’ illustrations are bold, rich and earthy. Her style reminds me of Yuyi Morales’ older work (Sand Sister). We get to peek through the windows of the houses in the community and Morales’ use of pink, orange and yellow acrylics washes the pages in warmth. Brown faces are smiling, laughing and enjoying the hot summer! The paletas, in all their vibrant colors, look refreshing and delicious.

I hope you’ll enjoy What Can You Do With a Paleta? It’s the perfect summer read-aloud. 🙂

 

 

Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Family, Community, Love, Mexican Culture, Food Culture, Summertime, Friendship, Fun, Happiness, Diversity, Siblings, Read-Aloud
Book Info: What Can You Do With a Paleta? by Carmen Tafolla/Illustrated by Magaly Morales, 2009 Tricycle Press (Ten Speed Press), ISBN: 9781582462219

Just a Minute

JustaMinute

Image Credit: Chronicle Books LLC, Yuyi Morales

Aye! I love a good trickster tale. Just A Minute is so clever and memorable and features the bony Señor Calavera. If you want to learn more about calaveras, check out the book Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh.

Just a Minute begins with Señor Calavera’s visit to Grandma Beetle’s doorstep. Her time for death has come BUT…she has other ideas! 😉  She tells him “Just a minute…” because she has one house to sweep and so, Señor Calavera, being the agreeable reaper that he is, waits patiently. And so the story continues. This book is also a counting book in English and Spanish and with each number, Grandma cleverly secures a little more time on this earth and Señor Calavera gets more impatient. She is preparing her house and cooking food for her birthday party with her grandchildren…Death can certainly wait! The format of the story is repetitive but this isn’t a bad thing; repetition can help children become comfortable with a story, and with reading as well.

Yuyi Morales is one of my favorite author/illustrators because her stories have so much life! You can taste the food she draws and you can feel the energy. The family she creates in this story, with their warm brown skin, expressive faces and smiling eyes, is beautiful. The big body of Grandma Beetle reminds me of my Grandma Eva who also loved to cook and spend time with her grandchildren. Morales uses acrylic and mixed media to create her illustrations and her color palate is warm and vivid; the colors on the pages remind me of rows of papel picado. If you’re charmed by Grandma Beetle and Señor Calavera, check out the sequel to this book, Just in Case!

Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Trickster Tales, Cultural Diversity, Mexican Culture, Spanish Language, Mexican Food, Food Culture, Calaveras, Counting, Family, We Need Diverse Books, Grandmothers
Book Info: Just a Minute by Yuyi Morales, 2003 Chronicle Books LLC, ISBN: 9780811837583

Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras

Funny Bones

Image Credit: Abrams, Duncan Tonatiuh

Author/illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh is one of my current favorites. I love not only the abundance of cultural and historical information in his picture books but his art style is simply amazing. It’s so smooth and modern while being unique and a throwback to his indigenous Mexican heritage. Does it get better than that? Not really and that’s why I’m loving his books so much.

Because Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is coming up soon, I’m discussing his newest book Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras. I’ve had an interest in Dia de Los Muertos ever since I taught a lesson about it to my Korean students. I wanted to expose them to a cultural tradition that was different but similar to one of their own. Koreans celebrate a holiday called Chuseok where they honor and pray for their dead ancestors. Since there are some similarities to Dia de Los Muertos, I thought the kids might really get something out of it!

Tonatiuh does an excellent job of making culture, art critique and history accessible to kids. Some kids really enjoy the bio books and I think they’ll love this one. We learn about the life and art of Mexican artist Posada who is responsible for making the crazy and vibrant Calavera (bone people) illustrations popular. He also documented important political events like the Mexican Revolution.

What I enjoyed most about this picture book is how Tonatiuh encourages children to do art critique. He reproduces Posada’s art, blends it with his own and poses questions about the meaning of the art all while telling Posada’s story. This is awesome! Because the book is partially about Dia de Los Muertos, it encourages you to think about life and death. This may seem heavy but like the holiday, it is about the celebration of life as well as the celebration of a great Mexican artist!

Recommended for: Ages 7 and up
Great for: History, Art History, Diversity, We Need Diverse Books, Holiday, Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, Artist Bio, Biography, Non-Fiction, Mexico
Book Info: Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh, 2015 Abrams, ISBN: 9781419716478