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Children's Literature Reviews
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A gift for Abuelita : celebrating the Day of the Dead
story by Nancy Luenn ; illustrated by Robert Chapman = Un regalo para Abuelita : en celebración del Día de los Muertos / cuento por Nancy Luenn ; ilustrado por Robert Chapman.
Flagstaff, AZ : Rising Moon, c1998.
1 v. (unpaged) ; col. ill. ; 29 cm.

Annotations:

Children's Spanish Language Books
After her beloved grandmother dies, Rosita hopes to be reunited with Abuelita as she prepares a gift to give her when her family celebrates the Day of the Dead.

Best Books:

Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for PreK-Grade 6, 12th Edition, 1999 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
Americas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature, 1998 ; Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP); Commended; United States
Bilingual Books for Children, 2000 ; ALSC American Library Association; United States
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 1999 ; National Council for the Social Studies NCSS; United States
Special Interest Group of the International Reading Association, 1999 ; Special Interest Group of the International Reading Association; United States

State and Provincial Reading Lists:

Texas Reading Club, 2001 ; Texas

Reading Measurement Programs:


Accelerated Reader
Interest Level Lower Grade
Book Level 3.3
Accelerated Reader Points 0.5

Reviews:

Annie Ayres (Booklist, March 15, 1999 (Vol. 95, No. 14))
Rosita loves Abuelita because her grandmother always has time for her, teaching her how to make tortillas and how to braid and promising to teach Rosita to make salsa. But then Abuelita dies and goes to heaven with the angels. As the family works on gifts for the Day of the Dead altar that will welcome back their loved ones, Rosita wonders whether her grandmother will return and weaves a long and beautiful braid to show her how much she is missed. When Rosita places the braid across Abuelita's grave on the Day of the Dead, she remembers all that her grandmother had taught her and realizes "that, like the braid, the cord of their love is too strong to be broken." Composed of wet paper pulp cast into shapes, pieced together like a mosaic, and then encrusted with added objects, Chapman's gorgeous illustrations are rich with eye-catching details and dimension, expressive with colors and textures. This beautiful bilingual story about the special relationship between a grandparent and child, and the acceptance of both love and grief, offers gifts of gentle warmth, kind understanding, and healing comfort. Category: For the Young. 1998, Rising Moon, $15.95. Ages 5-8.

CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices, 1998)
Rosita loved being with her abuelita (grandmother) each day. She loved "the soap scent of Abuelita's everyday dress...and the strong warmth of her grandmother's arms." She loved what they did together, such as preparing tortillas, making up songs, and weeding the chiles in the garden. One day Abuelita taught Rosita how to braid a strong cord from three overlapping strands. After Abuelita's illness and death, Rosita became heartbroken. As the family prepared for the annual Day of the Dead observances by cooking, carving, weaving, and gardening, Rosita couldn't seem to think of an appropriate ofrenda (gift for the family altar) to create in Abuelita's memory. The harder Rosita tried the more difficult it was for her to sense Abuelita's presence, until she remembered the cord Abuelita had taught her to braid. Chapman's muted mixed media illustrations on cast paper suggest three dimensions in an affectionate bilingual story about the endurance of family memory. CCBC categories: Seasons and Celebrations. 1998, Rising Moon/Northland, 32 pages, $15.95. Ages 6-9.

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
First-time illustrator Chapman's inventive full-page collagelike tableaux distinguish this otherwise flat bilingual story. Luenn's (Squish! A Wetland Walk) narrative conveys only a glimmer of the relationship between young Rosita and her grandmother, Abuelita, before the woman dies; she relies on the metaphor of braiding to carry readers through the explanation of customs for the Mexican celebration of the dead. The story opens with Abuelita teaching Rosita that "one strand alone can be broken, but when they are woven together, they make a cord that is strong. Like my love for you and your love for me." The tale suffers from a number of awkward transitions and clumsy sentences (e.g., one page begins with "Abuelita scolded the day she discovered Rosita pulling up plants in the garden" and ends with Abuelita's death). The illustrations create the warmth between characters absent from the text; Chapman casts wet paper pulp in molds then glues numerous layers into a wooden frame, giving the compositions the feel of embroidered quilts. Beads, twine and wooden figurines complete these intriguing, complex creations, apt for a story of handcrafted gifts. A brief author's note explains some of the particulars of the Day of the Dead, yet a few phrases will remain a mystery to children (as when Rosita's family buys "bread of the dead" at market). The artwork is the real gift here. Ages 5-8. (Nov.)

Janice M. Del Negro (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, January 1999 (Vol. 52, No. 5))
Rosita and her grandmother are very close, and they spend much time together as grandmother teaches Rosita what is a weed and what isnít, how to make tortillas, and how to braid. Abuelita is going to teach Rosita to make salsa, but before she can, she dies, leaving Rosita sad and lonely. Celebrating the Day of the Dead gives Rosita and her family a chance to remember those they love who are gone, and the realization that ďlike the braid, the cord of their love was too strong to be brokenĒ brings comfort to the young girl mourning her grandmother. Luennís warm, conversational style communicates the process of grief and acceptance with a minimum of sentimentality, clearly placing Rosita and her sorrow at the center of her comforting family and this story as well. Chapmanís illustrations, a sort of bas-relief in cast paper with three-dimensional details provided by seeds, cord, and other found objects, has a dense richness that suits the content and pace of the story. The text, in English and in Spanish, is laid out in framed text boxes with decorative detailing. Authorís and illustratorís notes are included, as is a brief glossary. Review Code: R -- Recommended. (c) Copyright 1999, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1998, Rising Moon, 32p, $15.95. Grades 2-5.

Subjects:

Grandmothers--Fiction.
Mexican Americans--Fiction.
Death--Fiction.
All Souls' Day--Fiction.
Spanish language materials--Bilingual.
LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) PZ73 .L814 1998
98022277 [E]
0873586883
9780873586887
978-0-87358-688-7
9780873586887
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