Parents' Guide to


By Jan Carr, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 5+

Vibrant memories of Caribbean island celebrate heritage.

Islandborn Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 3+

Based on 1 parent review

age 3+

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1):
Kids say: Not yet rated

It's not every day that a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist writes a picture book, and this one vibrantly celebrates diversity by mining the author's own Dominican American experience. In Islandborn, the many shaded brown-skinned kids in Lola's school hail from a whole host of countries, and her New York City neighborhood is full of friends who can tell her about the island home of her birth. Author Junot Díaz makes the decision not to name the Dominican Republic, referring to it simply as "the Island." He also references the brutal dictator Rafael Trujillo who ruled for 30 years, but refers to him obliquely as "the Monster," and the art pictures him as an actual monster, not a man. This might confuse some kids, who might take the word "monster" literally, so parents and teachers can fill in the actual history.

The art by Leo Espinosa is wildly colorful, as befits a book about an island that has "colorful cars, colorful houses, flowers everywhere. Even the people are like a rainbow -- every shade ever made." And it's even more fun that Espinosa's art is incorporated into the pictures Lola herself is painting for her school project. The book celebrates the vibrancy of the Dominican American immigrant community, hinting at the darker forces that prompted people to leave their beloved island home.

Book Details

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