Parents' Guide to

Carmela Full of Wishes

By Jan Carr, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 4+

Sweet, poignant story of young girl from immigrant family.

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This delicate, finely wrought story about a young Latina girl lays out the difficult circumstances of her immigrant family while celebrating her as a kid like any other. De la Peña seeds Carmela Full of Wishes with telling details. Her mom works as a housekeeper in a hotel, and her dad used to stand outside the home improvement store, hoping to be hired as a day laborer. Some of Carmela's wishes are simple (going to the Laundromat with her big brother) and some are not so simple (fixing her dad's immigration status so he can return to the family). And yet, Carmela's a kid, recognizable and relatable. She squabbles with her older brother, feistily stands up for herself, wishes for a candy machine, and jingles her bracelets, both to please herself and to needle her brother. And, as any kid might, she cries when she takes a tumble and crushes her dandelion.

Illustrator Christian Robinson's acrylic and collage illustrations work hand in hand with the text. The brown-skinned siblings and community members are appealingly expressive. Carmela's wishes are enshrined as papel picado, traditional Mexican decorations made of tissue paper with cutout shapes. Her most poignant wish, that her dad returns and embraces her, feels perfectly framed. And the human labor required for farming is underscored in the endpapers, which show scores of workers toiling in the fields.

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