Grandma's Gift

Grandma's Gift

by Eric Velasquez

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The Pura Belpre Illustrator Award winner, now in paperback.

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The Pura Belpre Illustrator Award winner, now in paperback.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
Although the narrator of this tender story is Puerto Rican, his story will touch American-born children of all immigrant families. Author Velasquez's (I, Matthew Henson and Jesse Owens: Fastest Man Alive) autobiographical story conveys his special relationship with his Spanish-speaking grandmother. Grandma is Eric's caregiver when his parents are at work. Eric is his grandmother's guide and translator on her infrequent trips out of the barrio. Within the neighborhood, Grandma has a network of friends and merchants who treat her with fairness and customary courtesy. Outside her network in English-speaking New York, Grandma is dependent on Eric's translation skills and ability to navigate the majority culture. A school-mandated visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art is an act of courage for Grandma who does not understand the signs or the "give what you can" admissions policy. She does recognize Diego Velasquez's famous portrait of Juan de Pereja, a former slave who himself aspired to become a great artist. The painting is for Grandma a point of pride, and for Eric a new awareness that people of Puerto Rican heritage have made notable contributions to the world of art. The history lesson is important to the story, but incidental to the real message of the book. The devoted relationship between Eric and his grandmother is the centerpiece of the story. Grandma is the bearer of traditional Christmas recipes and Puerto Rican pride. The kitchen as a place of shared stories is a constant in many books (such as Adele Geras' My Grandmother's Stories) and here, again, we see it as a catalyst for important generation-to-generation sharing that is frequently absent today. The inherent coziness of this book and the overwhelming pride of heritage make it a wonderful addition to multi-ethnic collections, especially for the holiday season. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—This companion to Grandma's Records (Walker, 2001) is another memoir of Velasquez's boyhood visits with his grandmother in Spanish Harlem. This time it is Christmas. After helping to shop for ingredients and make her famous pasteles, Eric and his grandmother venture from El Barrio to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The boy has a school assignment to complete and together they discover the work of Diego Velázquez, including the famous portrait of Juan de Pareja. The woman nurtures the boy's fascination with painting by giving him art supplies for Christmas. This beautifully illustrated slice-of-life is sprinkled with Spanish phrases (all translated into English) and rich details about Puerto Rican traditions and culture. Velasquez's full-bleed paintings transport readers to another time and place and expertly capture the characters' personalities and emotions. A gift, indeed.—Virginia Walter, UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies
Kirkus Reviews

In this touching autobiographical prequel to Grandma's Records (2004), Velasquez recalls a special Christmas vacation during his childhood when he stayed with his grandmother in El Barrio (Spanish Harlem). Eric accompanies his grandmother to the neighborhood shops as she purchases the ingredients for her special Christmas Eve dish, pasteles. In turn, she accompanies her grandson to the Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of a school assignment to view its newly acquired painting, Juan de Pareja, by Diego Velásquez. The realistic oil paintings reveal a strong and stylish grandmother of great character and a polite child who is thrilled with his grandmother's Christmas gift of a sketchbook and set of colored pencils. The sweetly understated story has Spanish words and sentences skillfully woven into the text throughout with translations provided in parentheses. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-9)

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Product Details

Walker & Company
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.20(w) x 10.20(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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