A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Offers relatable experiences, glimpse into simpler times in Cuba. Spanish names of fruits and a few other Spanish words are sprinkled throughout. Back matter offers information about travel restrictions between the United States and Cuba. Gives brief history of Cuban street vendors. The tradition of eating 12 grapes on New Year's Eve is also talked about.
Strong messages about diversity, community, and finding joy. Family bonds are strong, regardless of distance. Home is where the heart is.
Positive Role Models
Strong, loving, hopeful, female character. Family bonds are important. Shows how people separated stay close. Main character looks up to her grandfather. Street vendors are an essential part of the community. Diverse communities are represented: Black and Brown street vendors and neighbors of all ages and sizes.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Song of Frutas, written by Pura Belpré Award–winning author Margarita Engle and illustrated by Pura Belpre Honoree Sara Palacios, is a rhythmic picture book about a young girl's visits with her abuelo in Cuba and her longing to see him again. Her grandfather is a pregonero, or a singing street vendor in Cuba. The little girl loves visiting her grandfather, and when she does, life is sabroso (tasty), as together they sing and dance their way through lively neighborhoods, meeting new customers and other sellers too. Palacios' vivid illustrations and the use of a few Spanish words sprinkled throughout transport young readers to a warm island filled with sweet treats -- none as sweet as the loving relationship between Abuelo and his granddaughter. The granddaughter is not with her abuelo now: instead, she's in the United States, finding consolation in the letters they mail back and forth, that feel like an abrazo -- a hug. Lively illustrations celebrate an inclusive culture that values community as much as it values family. The main character has rich wavy black hair and brown skin just like Abuelo's, and other characters reflect Cuba’s racial diversity. Engle draws from her own Cuban American experience and includes a mix of Spanish and English words that flow easily. This book is simultaneously published in Spanish.
Is It Any Good?
Colorful illustrations and short sentences draw readers in and make us want to sing along, our voices like bridges connecting us to one another. A Song of Frutas is a sweet story, poetic and filled with colorful moments. It celebrates shared moments etched in our memories and recalls what some hold most dear -- family. The colorful characters help illustrate a cultural setting that becomes part of the young girl's emotional journey to remain connected to her far away family and her cultural roots. illustrator Sara Palacios' detailed and playful illustrations beautifully depict diversity and make the story relatable to a wide audience. Each page displays a varied spectrum of brown skin shades that can prompt young readers to appreciate differences and find beauty within their own uniqueness. It's a story that can also speak to kids whose families don't look like everyone else's. At the end of the book, the author’s note explains more about los pregoneros (street vendors who cry out to announce their wares) and shares details about the effects of travel restrictions on Cuban and Cuban American families. Author Margarita Engle also explains why she chose to use Spanglish in this text and talks about the tradition of eating 12 grapes on New Year’s Eve.
Kids who are first-generation American will identify with the main character's experiences, her strong longing for home, her desire to see far away family, and her hope for a future when they can all be together again.
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Our Editors Recommend
Bilingual Books (English/Spanish)
Books with Latino Characters
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