My Abuelita

( 1 )

Overview

Winner of a 2010 Pura Belpre Illustrator Honor!

Abuelita’s hair is the color of salt. Her face is as crinkled as a dried chile. She booms out words as wild as blossoms blooming. She stuffs her carcacha—her jalopy—with all the things she needs: a plumed snake, a castle, a skeleton, and more. Her grandson knows he has the most amazing grandmother ever—with a very important job. What does Abuelita do? With her booming voice and wonderful props, Abuelita is a storyteller. Next to ...

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Overview

Winner of a 2010 Pura Belpre Illustrator Honor!

Abuelita’s hair is the color of salt. Her face is as crinkled as a dried chile. She booms out words as wild as blossoms blooming. She stuffs her carcacha—her jalopy—with all the things she needs: a plumed snake, a castle, a skeleton, and more. Her grandson knows he has the most amazing grandmother ever—with a very important job. What does Abuelita do? With her booming voice and wonderful props, Abuelita is a storyteller. Next to being a grandmother, that may be the most important job of all.

Sprinkled with Spanish and infused with love, My Abuelita is a glorious celebration of family, imagination, and the power of story.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The digital photographs of Morales’s unique polymer-clay sculptures, surrounded by elements and colors distinctive of traditional Mexican crafts, create a surrealistic atmosphere that transforms the locations where this story take place—a humble home and a school—into fantastic places. Children and adults, especially those who love listening and telling stories, will be thrilled to discover Abuelita’s enchanting profession."—Kirkus Reviews

"A young boy narrates an affectionate ode to his beloved grandmother in this fanciful picture book . . . the many Spanish terms are well defined within the boy’s engaging and poetic narrative, in which he conveys his admiration and affection for his appealingly peppy grandmother . . . the eye-catching, mixed-media illustrations, sparked with bright patterns, textures, and color, will help reinforce the meaning in the words. A charming tribute to family and the joys and inspiration that storytelling can bring."—Booklist

"The vignettes seamlessly knit together realism and fantasy, giving every spread a dreamy physicality "—Publishers Weekly

"It seems a touch unfair that any one person should have as much talent in her bones as Yuyi Morales."—Betsy Bird, Fuse #8 - SLJ blog

Publishers Weekly
Morales (Just in Case), winner of this year's Pura Belpré Award, does some wonderful work with handmade puppets and digitally enhanced photography. In fact, the images are so vivid that Johnston's (Voice from Afar: Poems of Peace) text is almost superfluous. The story follows the boy narrator as he helps his adored grandmother, a professional storyteller, get ready for a performance at a local school. Johnston conjures up a senior citizen of enormous creativity and indomitable spirit—Abuelita exercises her voice with “deep, boggy, froggy notes” and wraps herself in a striped towel that makes her look and hum like “a great big bee.” But Morales is already conveying all that through her impishly expressive puppets (in a scene where the rotund grandmother describes herself as being round “like a calabaza,” her reflection in the mirror envisions her as a pumpkin), unpredictable perspectives (including a bird's-eye view of a bathroom) and a glowing palette drawn from Mexican folk art. The vignettes seamlessly knit together realism and fantasy, giving every spread a dreamy physicality. Ages 3–7. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
A young boy who lives with his grandmother describes how she gets ready for work every day, along with him and her cat, Frida Kahlo. With humor and some repetitions, he reports how they limber up, bathe, have breakfast; then she yodels to warm up her voice, and they join her. He has to remind her to get dressed and to take what she needs for work, unusual things like a plumed snake, stalks of maize, and a king and a queen. Off they drive in her jalopy. It is then that he tells her that she is finally ready, and we discover his abuelita surrounded by boys and girls, ready to begin her work as storyteller with, "Once upon a time…." Morales visualizes this happy, affection-filled tale in settings with characters created "with polymer clay, wire, felting wool, acrylic paints, fabric, wood, metals, and Mexican crafts," all worth examining and discovering with pleasure. There is an attractive, pinch-able quality to the characters; even the cat exudes personality. The visual story evolves on double pages with settings only suggested. The love of grandson and grandmother are clearly expressed. The meaning of the Spanish words is clear in context. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1—A boy describes the morning routine he shares with his grandmother as she prepares for work. Flights of fancy enliven the tasks of bathing, eating breakfast, and dressing. When the pair arrive at her workplace, readers discover that Abuelita is a storyteller—a calling that her grandson shares. Spanish words are sprinkled throughout, often followed by brief definitions. For example, the boy says, "I live with my grandma…I call her Abuelita." Johnston effectively engages young readers' interest by mentioning the woman's work, but not revealing what she does until the final page. Morales's bold, innovative illustrations brilliantly reinforce the text. On one spread, Johnston writes that Abuelita is "robust…like a calabaza. A pumpkin." On the left, children see a cheerful, round person, while a mirror on the right shows a pumpkin with Abuelita's smiling face. The illustrations represent a fresh new direction for Morales. Characters molded from polymer clay are dressed in brightly patterned fabrics and placed among images that evoke Mexican art. Abuelita's mirror is framed by traditional metalwork, and her storytelling props include a winged serpent and a Day of the Dead skeleton. While the story is firmly placed in a Mexican context, children of all ethnic and racial backgrounds will be drawn to the eye-catching illustrations and the universal story of a loving intergenerational relationship.—Mary Landrum, Lexington Public Library, KY
Kirkus Reviews
A Mexican-flavored story of a small child who lives with a lovely and extravagant grandmother. He calls her "Abuelita," the affectionate word that Spanish-speaking children and children of Hispanic origin use to name their grandmas. The attentive child expresses a genuine admiration for his Abuelita's job, describing her daily rituals to get ready to work: The child and Abuelita's cat (Frida Kahlo) follow her while she takes a shower, prepares breakfast, exercises her voice and dons (after a reminder) a special gown. Then, after besitos for Frida Kahlo, they leave in an old car, a "carcacha," full of the unusual objects she needs to perform her work: a sun, a moon, a skeleton, a king and a queen. The digital photographs of Morales's unique polymer-clay sculptures, surrounded by elements and colors distinctive of traditional Mexican crafts, create a surrealistic atmosphere that transforms the locations where this story take place-a humble home and a school-into fantastic places. Children and adults, especially those who love listening and telling stories, will be thrilled to discover Abuelita's enchanting profession. (Picture book. 3-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152163303
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/7/2009
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 371,225
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

TONY JOHNSTON’s numerous books for children include It’s About Dogs, illustrated by Ted Rand, Very Scary, illustrated by Douglas Florian, and The Day of the Dead, illustrated by Jeanette Winter. She lives with her family in California.

YUYI MORALES is a promising new picture book illustrator. A native of Mexico, she now lives in San Francisco where she is pursuing a degree in creative writing and developing her career as an artist. She is also a puppet-maker and the host of a Spanish-language storytelling radio show.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 28, 2012

    My Grandma, the Storyteller

    This is a picture book that tells the story of a young boy who is getting ready to spend the day with his abuelita, or grandmother at her work. The boy and his grandmother go through a morning routine and the boy helps to collect all the things she will need for work for the day, which is a mystery until the very end. Tony Morales tells a sweet tale with a combination of English and Spanish words that are followed by an English description of the meaning of the Spanish words. Yuyi Morales takes your breath away with her beautiful artwork. The illustrations and artwork are very true to the Mexican culture with bright colors and clay figures. Each page is unique and bright, and will capture the attention of young readers. A very sweet story that helps describe the art of storytelling.

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