Juana & Lucas: Big Problems: Juan & Lucas, Book 2

Book review by
Monica Encarnacion, Common Sense Media
Juana & Lucas: Big Problems: Juan & Lucas, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Colombian girl adapts to family changes in charming sequel.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Kids can pick up some Spanish language as big-hearted Juana teaches lessons about family dynamics and dealing with conflicting feelings. The story gives kids a window into a life both different from and very like their own.

Positive Messages

It's OK to have conflicting emotions. Kids can turn to family and other trusted adults for guidance. Change can be difficult but interesting. And although the old can combine with the new, some things never change -- like the love your parents have for you.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Juana is charismatic, with a joyful zest for life. She values family and relationships and turns to loved ones when she needs guidance. She realizes that although change is hard, it isn't always bad. She finds joy in everyday life, and this helps her work through her conflicting feelings. The adults in her family are loving and steadfast.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Juana & Lucas: Big Problems is Juana Medina's charming follow up to her Pura Belpré Award-winning chapter book Juana & Lucas. Also set in Bogota, Colombia, this book updates us on the story of spunky little Juana and her favorite pup Lucas. Narrated in her honest, child-like voice, Juana draws readers into her everyday life and kids will likely relate to her emotions. Juana's life is almost perfect -- she has a great Mami and loving abuelos, the nicest neighbors, a good school, and the most perfect perro. But when Mami starts spending more time with her new friend Luis, Juana's big problems begin. Medina's cartoon-like illustrations make the lovable characters come alive and add humor to Juana's concerns about how she will continue to fit into her new family. Spanish words are sprinkled throughout the book, italicized so that they're easy to identify by monolingual readers who will swiftly get their meaning through context clues. Full-color illustrations and 13 easy-to- follow chapters make this book a perfect read for kids making the transition from picture books to chapter books.

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What's the story?

In JUANA & LUCAS: BIG PROBLEMS, charismatic Juana enjoys her almost-perfect life in her beloved city of Bogota, with her two most favorite people in the world: Mami and her perro, Lucas. Until she notices some changes in Mami -- she gets a new hairdo and starts spending a lot of time with her new amigo Luis. That's when life becomes a little less perfect and Juana's big problems begin. Although Luis is kind and teaches Juana many things, like about photography and jazz music, Juana just can't help but wish that things would go back to how they were before. Juana isn't prepared for the big announcement -- Mami and Luis are getting married and they're all moving together to a new casa. At first, Juana is distraught by the news. But eventually she comes to realize that there are some things that will never change -- like how much Mami loves her!

Is it any good?

This charming chapter book is a welcome addition to the Juana & Lucas series. Like Book 1, Juana & Lucas: Big Problems, is filled with full-color art that makes it fun to read, especially for kids graduating from picture books to chapter books. Accessible chapters guide readers through Juana's experiences, incorporating visual details that help kids understand her thought process and full range of emotions. In the end, Juana discovers that she can always count on family and their constant guidance to help her solve her biggest problemas.

Thriving and confident Juana realizes it's possible to combine the old with the new and still find happiness, when done with humor and grace. Based on author-illustrator Juana Medina's own childhood in Colombia, her joyful series is sure to resonate with kids of all ages, bilingual and monolingual alike.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the Spanish words in Juana & Lucas: Big Problems. Can you figure them out, even if you don't speak Spanish? What clues can help you find the meaning?

  • How is Juana's life in Bogota, Colombia, similar to yours? How is it different? Is your family like hers?

  • Juana turns to her abuelita to help ease her concerns. Who do you turn to when you need help solving big problems? How do they help you feel better?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love bilingual books and Latinx stories

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