When her great-aunt, her tÔa, turns 90, Cecilia gathers together a basket full of memories.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyThe young narrator of this poignant picture book discovers that the best gifts are not always store-bought. Cecilia is stumped when it comes to getting a present for her great aunt's 90th birthday. She finally settles on filling a basket with reminders of all the good times Tia and she have shared. A mixing bowl recalls days spent baking cookies; a teacup holds memories of the special brew Tia prepares when Cecilia is sick. The thoughtful present is a hit when Tia unveils it at her surprise party. Mora's text flows smoothly from one event to the next, and clearly presents the careful planning behind Cecilia's gift-gathering mission. Repetition of the items inside the basket and the occasional use of Spanish words are helpful reinforcements for young readers. Two cavils: Mora's text tends to go on a bit too long, and the many asides Cecilia addresses to her cat Chica become somewhat intrusive as the story progresses. Lang's cut-paper illustrations provide a vivid picture of a diverse and dynamic Mexican American family. Warm brown skin tones contrast nicely with bold reds, blues and oranges to lend additional Latin flavor. Ages 2-6. (Sept.)
School Library JournalK-Gr 2-- Cecilia is excited by the approach of her great-aunt Tia's 90th birthday. The elderly woman has always been a special friend to both the bright-eyed heroine and her cat, Chica. For a gift, Cecilia hits on the idea of a basket filled with all the things that symbolize togetherness with Tia: a bowl for baking cookies, a cup for having tea, flowers for their times outside. Her delight in filling the basket is matched by Tia's as she enjoys the tributes. Vibrant, detailed cut-paper illustrations portray family warmth and individuality with verve and panache. This book, like Polacco's Thunder Cake (Scholastic, 1989), shows the close relationship between a child and an older relative (in this case, a family of Mexican-Americans). Young readers will be engaged by the cumulative nature of the story while savoring this family's similarities to and differences from their own. --Ann Welton, Terminal Park Elementary School, Auburn, WA
Julie CorsaroThis warm and joyful story by a Hispanic poet tells of a young girl's search for the perfect present for her great-aunt's ninetieth birthday. Accompanied by her playful cat, Chica, Cecilia puts together a "basket of memories" representing their favorite activities: "I put a red ball in the teacup that is in the flowerpot in the mixing bowl on the book in the basket." Characterized by bold colors, rich textures, and intricately detailed patterns, the inventive cut-paper collages echo the energy and cadence of the cumulative text, which includes Spanish terms and Mexican-American customs. The final surprise at Tia's party symbolizes the strong relationship between generations--she generously puts down her cane to dance with her beloved niece. Useful as a read-aloud and a read-alone; young children can also count with Cecilia to 90.
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