My Abuelita

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
My Abuelita Book Poster Image
Robust artwork with a Latino touch celebrates storytelling.

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A lot or a little?

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

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 & Representations

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

What 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. 

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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.

Talk to your kids 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

For kids who love big imaginations and great artwork

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