Mango, Abuela, and Me
Meg Medina, Author
Angela Dominguez, Illustrator
Candlewick Press, Fiction, Aug. 25, 2015
2016 Pura Belpré Honor Book medal for literature
Suitable for Ages: 5-8
Themes: Aging grandparents, Love, Family relationships, Learning a new language, Hispanic, Diversity
Opening: “She comes to us in winter, leaving behind her sunny house that rested between two snaking rivers.”
Book Jacket Synopsis: Mia’s “far-away” grandmother leaves behind her sunny house with parrots and palm trees to come live with Mia and her parents in the city. But when Mia tries to share her favorite bedtime story with Abuela, she discovers that Abuela can’t read the words. Mia helps Abuela with her English while they cook, and Mia learns some Spanish, too. But it’s still hard for Abuela to learn the words she needs to tell Mia all her stories. So when Mia sees a parrot in the pet-shop window, she has the perfecto idea for how to help Abuela.
Why I like this book:
What a treat to review Meg Medina’s book, just after she received the 2016 Pura Belpré Honor Book medal for literature. Her heartwarming story about the bonds of love, family and culture is a testament to how important Latino books are for children.
Medina weaves her magic as she includes both Spanish and English words into her uplifting and endearing bilingual story about Mia finding a way to communicate with her Hispanic grandmother — especially since they share a bedroom together. Language barriers are likely a familiar issue for many multi-generational immigrant families.
Mia and Abuela’s memorable characters are artfully crafted. Mia is caring, creative and determined to find a way to bridge the communication gap and does so in a very clever and humorous way. (No spoilers.) Abuela is sad and homesick at first, until she begins to cook with Mia and learn new words. Both learn to be patient with each other.
The text is simple and lyrical, the plot engaging and timeless. The narrative is a springboard for Angela Dominguez’s lively, colorful and expressive illustrations which are a blend of ink, gouache and marker. This is a lovely collaborative effort between Medina and Dominguez.
Resources: Children learn a second language very easily. No matter if your child is learning English or Spanish, you can teach them simple words. For instance, Mia makes words cards for her abuela and tapes them to the lamp, rug, door, phone, chair, blanket, pillow. Teach your child to count and say the alphabet in Spanish or English. Visit this creative Bilingual Teaching Activities page for children on Pinterest.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.