Abuelita's Paradise

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A Puerto Rican girl is able to wrap herself in happy memories of her dead grandmother when she receives her abuelita!s rocking chair as a gift. As she rocks, Marita recalls Abuelita's stories about growing up on the lush island-her paradise-rife with sugar cane fields and waterfalls. Nodar's intergenerational story covers much ground without becoming bogged down by the potentially cumbersome nostalgic passages. Spanish terms such as nifiita and sombrero pepper the text (the book is also available in a Spanish language edition) and benefit young readers as a glimpse of another culture. Paterson's loosely-rendered watereolors are reminiscent of Catherine Stock's work. Her predominantly cool palette featuring purples, greens, blues and occasional splashes of sunny yellow brings a loving abuelita and her memories to life. The final pictures portray a cozy, spectral Abuelita embracing my little girl-though this may temporarily disconcert youngsters, her appearance could well lead to interesting discussions. This reassuring work is also to be commended for taking a non-moralistic approach to dealing with the loss of a relative. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Marita's abuelita has recently died and Marita remembers stories from her grandmother regarding her childhood in Puerto Rico. Spanish words interspersed with watercolors portray a green Puerto Rican landscape. Tender moving story about the relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter. Also available in Spanish.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 1-- After Marita's grandmother dies, the child inherits the old woman's rocking chair with the faded plaid blanket on which the word paraiso (paradise) is spelled out. She sits in the chair and remembers the stories her grandmother shared with her about her childhood. The quiet story is extended by watercolor illustrations in which cool blues and rich greens predominate. The Puerto Rico of Abuelita's memories does indeed seem to be a paradise, yet despite the exotic setting, her activities will be familiar to young listeners and serve to create points of cross-cultural identification. Similar in tone to Juanita Havill's Treasure Nap (Houghton, 1992), the book gives information on Hispanic culture in the context of a loving family. Either or both of these books could be effectively used with Ackerman's Song and Dance Man (Knopf, 1988) or Patricia Polacco's Thunder Cake (Philomel, 1990) to show how grandparents of any ethnic group have special memories to share. --Ann Welton, Thomas Academy, Kent, WA
Ilene Cooper
Nodar's tender, moving story about the relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter is particularly poignant because Marita's "abuelita" has recently died. Marita sits in Abuelita's rocking chair and remembers the story Abuelita told about her own childhood growing up on a farm in Puerto Rico. "Wake up," her father would say." "It's the day to see giants." And off they would go to the fields where the tall, flowering sugar cane grew. Marita also liked hearing about how her grandmother, as a child, would watch birds and listen to her father play the lute. To her, Puerto Rico is paradise. Marita tells her mother that someday she, too, will go to Puerto Rico. Marita's mother says, "Abuelita would have liked that." With Spanish words tucked in the text, this remembrance has a very real feel to it. Pleasant watercolors switch easily from Abuelita's room to a verdant Puerto Rican landscape. Although this certainly will have multicultural uses, its strong suit is its universal themes.
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