Staff Picks for Children
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Recommended by Melinda at West Kendall Regional
Mamá the Alien/Mamá la Extraterrestre
By René Colato Laínez, Illustrated by Laura Lacámara
One day while playing basketball Sofía accidentally knocks over her mother’s purse and uncovers what she thinks is a deep, dark family secret: a card that says Resident Alien.
Mamá is an alien and admits it!
Her father seems to know about it already and says that he is not. Soon Sofía starts to imagine what her alien mother could be doing when Sofía is asleep, like…intergalactic basketball? She had better hide her ball! But, if her mother is an alien and her father is not, which part of Sofía is alien—the top or bottom, the left or the right? And how does Mamá hide her alien features? One night Sofía wakes up and sees Mamá in her alien form, only to discover that alien is one of those English words that has two meanings. Sofía soon learns what it means to be a Resident Alien, just in time for her mother’s citizenship ceremony.
René Colato Laínez writes a moving story. Based on the author’s own experience, its focus is a young girl as she discovers the citizenship process and how it affects her family. The book offers the full text in a bilingual format. Laura Lacámara adds illustrations that demonstrate the emotions of the characters in detail. The shocked look on Sofía’s face when she discovers the alien card is realistic, along with Mamá’s joy when discussing her new citizenship status. The imagination sequences fit right into the main story.Check Availability
My Red Velvet Cape
Written and Illustrated by Dana Sullivan
Mateo is getting ready to celebrate his birthday with a superhero costume party—his grandma is going to bring him a red velvet cape! Mateo spends the day imagining all of the things he could do while wearing his cape, like walking his dog, Alonzo, playing at recess and helping his mom bake a cake. So when his big sister points out that no, it’s not a red velvet cape Grandma is bringing him, but a red velvet cake, his anticipation and excitement disappears in a cloud of disappointment. Then Grandma arrives and Mateo halfheartedly opens his gift to find…a red velvet cape! And just like that everyone’s off to have some superhero fun.
Dana Sullivan’s story demonstrates the wonders of a child’s joy and imagination. His illustrations of darkly penned lines and soft, incomplete coloring make the story feel intimate, offer a sweet look at a little boy’s creative day. Mateo’s joy at all the possibilities the cape holds, his disappointment in what he thought was going to be a red velvet cake—all of it is clear and realistic.Check Availability
My Diary from Here to There/Mi Diario de Aquí Hasta Allá
by Amada Irma Pérez, Illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez
Amada is content with her life in Juárez, Mexico, with her mother, father and five brothers, even if they are noisy and nosey, always trying to read her diary. However, after overhearing her parents talk about moving to Los Angeles, she gets nervous. Her dad has lost his job, and the family needs to move north so he can find work. Amada’s dad goes first; since he is a citizen, he can apply for their green cards to come and stay with him. Amada, her mother and her brothers stay with family near the border, but they keep changing houses, until the day that Amada’s dad writes for them to come to Los Angeles. After a chaotic border crossing they are all together again in their new life in the United States, and after some time Amada finds the strength in herself to see that she can be okay here.
Amada Irma Pérez shares her own immigration story to show the courage it takes to start over in a new country. Written as a diary, it delves deep into what the main character is thinking and feeling as she and her family move from a land that she knows and loves to a new one. The book offers the full text in a bilingual format. Maya Christina Gonzalez’s illustrations are brightly colored works of art, focusing on the human element. The people in the illustrations are usually the main attractions, with big, bright eyes.Check Availability
A Box Full of Kittens
by Sonia Manzano, Illustrated by Matt Phelan
Ruthie’s favorite show is Superman and she would do anything to be a hero like him. When her mom sends her to sit with her pregnant Aunt Juanita, she thinks it will be her chance to save the day! But all Aunt Juanita needs is snacks from the store, so Ruthie makes the best of it by flying up and down the stairs and street like her hero Superman, until she is distracted by a box full of kittens. Ruthie loves kittens, and she is so drawn into playing with them that she misses her aunt calling her from the window, the police officer running to her aunt’s building, the sirens and her dad running down the block. Ruthie feels guilty that she missed being the hero until they tell her that her errands did the trick and she gets the honor of holding the baby first.
Sonia Manzano of Sesame Street pens this story of how a child wants to do big things but is distracted by something more immediate. Matt Phelan’s illustrations have sharp foregrounds, allowing the characters to show their emotions effectively, while the background is soft. Ruthie’s blue and red outfit reflect her interest in Superman and provide the brightest splash of color across several pages.Check Availability
Written and Illustrated by Maurie J. Manning
A little girl wakes up to noise in the kitchen. When she and her brother sneak downstairs, they witness their parents cleaning up to a Latin beat—and they cannot just help but dance! As they tango through the kitchen with a song in their hearts, their children watch in amazement. When they are caught, the children are asked to join in, until the rhythm puts them to sleep.
Maurie J. Manning takes two simple actions—cleaning and dancing—and turns them into one charming story full of rhythm and love as a family comes together in a joyful moment. The illustrations are bold and colorful, and pulse with life. Mom and Dad could twirl right off the page and into your kitchen! The lines are bright yet not sharp, which adds to the dreaminess of the book’s moments.Check Availability