Grandma's Records

( 1 )

Overview

Every summer, Eric goes to live with his grandmother in El Barrio (Spanish Harlem) while his parents work. Through the long hot days, Grandma fills her apartment with the blaring horns and conga drums of Bomba y Plena, salsa, and merengue-the music she grew up with in Puerto Rico-sharing her memories and passions with Eric.

But Eric sees Grandma in a new light when she gets them tickets to hear their favorite band in concert. The music sounds so different than it does at home on...

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Overview

Every summer, Eric goes to live with his grandmother in El Barrio (Spanish Harlem) while his parents work. Through the long hot days, Grandma fills her apartment with the blaring horns and conga drums of Bomba y Plena, salsa, and merengue-the music she grew up with in Puerto Rico-sharing her memories and passions with Eric.

But Eric sees Grandma in a new light when she gets them tickets to hear their favorite band in concert. The music sounds so different than it does at home on their scratchy records. And then the lead singer serenades Grandma right in front of the whole audience!

Join Eric Velasquez on a magical journey through time and across cultures, as a young boy's passion for music and art is forged by a powerful bond between generations.

The author describes his boyhood summers spent at his grandmother's apartment in Spanish Harlem where she introduced him to the sounds and steps of the merengue and the conga and told him stories of Puerto Rico.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Velasquez proves himself adept at evoking time and place as well as a loving family bond. The narrator spends his boyhood summers at his grandmother’s apartment in Spanish Harlem, where Grandma introduces him to the sounds of merengue and conga, dances with him and tells stories of growing up in Puerto Rico.”—Publishers Weekly.

“This heartfelt story has a melody all its own.”—Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Making his authorial debut, Velasquez (The Piano Man) proves himself adept at evoking time and place as well as a loving family bond. The narrator spends his boyhood summers at his grandmother's apartment in Spanish Harlem, where Grandma introduces him to the sounds of merengue and conga, dances with him and tells stories of growing up in Puerto Rico. Whenever she plays one special song, she puts her hand over her heart. Sometimes the boy sketches album covers, sometimes musicians come to visit, but the highlight of the summer is hearing "the best band in Puerto Rico" (Raphael Cortijo's combo) at a big theater in the Bronx. When the lead singer dedicates his grandmother's favorite song to her, the boy is surprised to see the whole audience put their hands over their hearts. Later, he learns that the gesture "show[s] that their hearts remain in Puerto Rico even though they may be far away." In the end, the boy is an adult, shown illustrating this book and listening to a CD, hand over heart. Velasquez comfortably introduces Spanish phrases, adds notes about real-life musicians and offers an aesthetically pleasing array of period album covers on the endpapers. His illustrations are realistic but quiet, toned down in their depiction of Grandma and her tidy, neutral decor the music here emanates from the words. Ages 5-8. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Eric Velasquez has created a story that illustrates perfectly how music can mean so much to people and add so much to peoples' lives. Velasquez tells the story of a young boy living in New York City. Every summer, the boy goes to live with his Grandma, since his parents work and there is no one to watch him. During the summer, his Grandma, who is from Puerto Rico, teaches him about the music of Puerto Rico. There is one special song that always reminds Grandma about Puerto Rico, and she closes her eyes, places her hand over her heart, and thinks about Grandpa and Puerto Rico. One summer they go to the concert to hear a band from Puerto Rico. The band sings Grandma's special song and everyone in the audience closes their eyes and places their hands over the hearts. He learns that the song is special to many different people and that music can create memories that can last a lifetime. Grandma is able to instill a special love of music in her Grandson, while producing memories for him as well. The book includes the Spanish and English version of Grandma's special song, as well as several Spanish words with English translations throughout the text. 2001, Walker Publishing, $17.95 and $16.95. Ages 6 to 10. Reviewer: Danielle Williams
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-Each year, a boy spends the summer with his grandmother in her apartment in Spanish Harlem. Grandma loves music, and her extensive record collection provides hours of pleasure. Selecting music to share with her and sketching art from album covers are frequent activities. One special summer, Grandma is given two tickets to a live concert by a nephew, a percussionist in a well-known Puerto Rican band. When the lead singer dedicates the last song to her, the child is surprised to see everyone singing "Grandma's special song" ("In My Old San Juan") with eyes closed and a hand placed over the heart. Later he understands that this act symbolizes "that their hearts remain in Puerto Rico even though they may be far away." Finally, he is pictured as an adult in his studio honoring his grandmother and her music through his art. Velasquez's touching yet simply told memoir of this tender relationship is lovingly captured in his illustrations. The old woman's dignity and spunk are etched in her face while her housecoat and slippers, framed photos from long ago, and console phonograph create a distinct sense of time and place. Add this to your study of memoir and be sure to read it aloud in celebration of grandparents and the children they love. You'll be glad you did.-Alicia Eames, New York City Public Schools Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In his debut as an author, Velasquez, illustrator of The Sound That Jazz Makes (2000) tells an entertaining first-person story (presumably autobiographical) of an unnamed Puerto Rican boy in the '50s who spends every summer with his grandmother in Spanish Harlem. The boy draws in his sketchbook as Grandma Carmen tells stories of her childhood in Puerto Rico and plays her much-loved records, especially her favorite song that she always listens to with one hand raised and her other hand over her heart. When the narrator and his grandma attend a concert by the most famous band in Puerto Rico, the band dedicates this special song to Grandma Carmen, and the audience members also listen with one hand raised and the other over their hearts. We learn along with the young narrator that "En Mi Viejo San Juan" is special to those of Puerto Rican heritage, capturing their longing for their homeland. The story ends with the grown narrator, now an artist in his own studio (painting this work's cover), remembering his grandma and playing her favorite song on his modern sound system—with his hand over his heart. Several Spanish sentences and phrases are worked into the text (with English translations), and the words to Grandma's song are also included in both Spanish and English. Velasquez is a talented painter whose illustrations capture the love between generations and the excitement of attending a live concert and meeting professional musicians. Thoughtful details add to the flavor of the period; tiny phonograph album covers fill the endpapers, historical artifacts to today's readers. Although we can't hear Grandma's song, this heart-felt story has a melody of its own. (author's note) (Picturebook. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802776600
  • Publisher: Walker & Company
  • Publication date: 3/1/2004
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 335,563
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.01 (w) x 9.62 (h) x 0.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Velasquez won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award for his illustrations in The Piano Man. He graduated from the School of Visual Arts and now lives in Hartsdale, New York, with his wife, Deborah.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2005

    Awesome Read!

    I was just introduced to this book tonight in a graduate class (ESL). I loved the book and thought it was tastefully done and plan to buy a couple of copies for my classroom and for a friend who is from Puerto Rico. Great for a multicultural classroom--and for those of us who have left their hearts in Puerto Rico.

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