My Abuelita



Robust artwork with a Latino touch celebrates storytelling.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Spanish words are sprinkled throughout the text, which would make this a great story for a beginning bilingual classroom. Touches of Mexican folk art in nearly every illustration add a cultural significance.

Positive messages

Abuelita loves being herself even though she "is as old as the
hills," her "face is as crinkled as a dried chile," and she is
"round ... like a calabaza." She definitely is special, and so is her grandson. Theirs is a very colorful, joyful world of love and admiration, and her job as a storyteller is one of the best jobs ever.  Imagination, as well as routine and ritual, are celebrated. 

Positive role models

The little boy loves and admires his abuelita, and she feels the same toward him. She takes care of him, and, in a way, he takes care of her.  Together, with Frida Kahlo the cat, they make a happy, loving family. 

Violence & scariness
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this book is sprinkled with Spanish words, vibrant award-winning art, and a great message about grandmas and storytelling. 

User reviews

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

A young boy who lives with his grandmother and her cat, goes through an entertaining morning preparing to go out with Abuelita to the work that she loves. Preparations include bending and stretching, bathing, humming, yodelling, eating "starry eggs," dressing, and packing the car with all sorts of amazing props. Where they are going, and what exactly Abuelita does, are a mystery until the last few pages when, with "words as wild as blossoms blooming, as round as dimes," she begins her work.

Is it any good?


This is a book readers will want to share over and over. If the mystery, story, and message aren't enough to keep kids intrigued, the artwork is. Every page is a feast for the eyes, full of color, detail, and something unusual. The background of each page is a vivid red, blue, purple, or some other bright, energetic color. Every one is different and exciting. Abuelita's outfits are fanciful, whether she is
wrapped in a yellow and black striped towel, a pink fuzzy robe or a
flowery gown with bright red shoes and a "scarf like a cloud"  that
flows to the ground. 

Other amazing details highlighted with the flowers and patterns of Mexican folk art, and the friendly clay figures with their shining eyes and pudgy cheeks, create such a rich, friendly, warm tone that makes this book feel more like a friend than simply a story. 

The artwork in this book is unique, and as playful as the story. Using clay, wire, felting wool, fabric, metals, Mexican crafts, and acrylic paints, the artist creates a warm and wonderful world full of color, excitement, and happiness. It's easy to see why it won the Pura Belpre Illustrator Honor.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Abuelita. Can you guess what exactly Abuelita does for work? From the first pages on, she is getting ready ... but for what? Why does she stretch and yodel? Why does she dress so flamboyantly? And, why do you think she needs to take along a snake, stalks of maize, a "king and queen as brown as beans" and so many other things?  What kind of work could she possibly do?

  • When looking at the illustrations, pick out the things that are unique to Mexican folk art. Notice the picture frames, the paintings on the furniture, the woven placemats, decorated dishware, and of course Abuelita's dress.

  • Why do you think they named the cat Frida Kahlo? Who is the real Frida Kahlo, and how does she fit in with the story?

  • Do you think you would like to hear Abuelita tell a story? What do you think her stories are about?  Do you know anyone who is a great storyteller? Do you think they are like Abuelita? How?

Book details

Author:Tony Johnston
Illustrator:Yuyi Morales
Genre:Picture Book
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Harcourt Children's Books
Publication date:September 7, 2009
Number of pages:32
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 8
Read aloud:4
Read alone:6

This review of My Abuelita was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

For kids who love big imaginations and great artwork

External sites

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Write a user reviewThere aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass