Tia Isa Wants a Car

Tia Isa Wants a Car

3.0 1
by Meg Medina, Claudio Munoz

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A little girl pitches in to help her tía save up for a big old car - and take the whole family to the beach - in a story told with warmth and sweetness.

Tía Isa wants a car. A shiny green car the same color as the ocean, with wings like a swooping bird. A car to take the whole family to the beach. But saving is hard when everything goes into two


A little girl pitches in to help her tía save up for a big old car - and take the whole family to the beach - in a story told with warmth and sweetness.

Tía Isa wants a car. A shiny green car the same color as the ocean, with wings like a swooping bird. A car to take the whole family to the beach. But saving is hard when everything goes into two piles - one for here and one for Helping Money, so that family members who live far away might join them someday. While Tía Isa saves, her niece does odd jobs for neighbors so she can add her earnings to the stack. But even with her help, will they ever have enough? Meg Medina’s simple, genuine story about keeping in mind those who are far away is written in lovely, lyrical prose and brought to life through Claudio Muñoz’s charming characters.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The strength of family and the importance of pursuing one's dreams are the bedrock of middle-grade author Medina's (Milagros: Girl from Away) lyrical first picture book, drawn from memories of her own family. Tía Isa, with whom the young narrator lives in a city apartment, is saving for a car so they can visit the beach. That desire is inextricably tied to one of the girl's own—to be reunited with her parents, who still live on their native island and receive "helping money" from their family in the U.S. (Medina is commendably subtle about the exact details, letting them unfold naturally.) Emotionally invested in her aunt's goal, the girl finds odd jobs to help save money, and they finally buy a gorgeous 1950s-era convertible with tailfins and plenty of room for the girl's parents—pictured with her at the beach in a triumphant final spread. Muñoz's (Jake's Best Thumb) wispy, pastel-hued illustrations exude emotion, from frustration ("...soon is when our family is going to join us here, so I know soon can be a very long time") to sheer exuberance. Ages 3–7. (June)
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—Tía Isa has a dream. She wants a car, a green one like the sea in her homeland. A vehicle that can take her family to different places, maybe to the beach, which is far from their urban dwelling. The problem is that she has no extra money. Tía Isa works at the bakery, she helps support her young niece, who lives in this country, and her family back home, and her brother scoffs at her notions. Isa is determined, however, to save up and to prove her brother wrong. They will have a car soon she tells her niece, the narrator. Obtaining it becomes the child's dream as well. As she goes about her days, she finds that people are ready and willing to pay for her help and her Spanish-language skills. Before long, the two find the perfect sea-foam green car. It has no air-conditioning and a bad radio, but it's just what they need to take everyone to the beach. Done in pencil, ink, and frequently complementary watercolors, this story is a pleasant selection about ambition, resourcefulness, and never letting go of one's dreams.—Roxanne Burg, Orange County Public Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews

Tía Isa dreams of buying a big car, green like the ocean that surrounds the island that she, her brother Andrés and their niece left to move to the United States.

Since most of their extra money goes to help the family still on the island, Tía Isa and her niece know it will take time. The car will not only get them to the beach but will also be large enough for the rest of the family, once they start moving to the States, too. As the unnamed first-person narrator, the niece starts telling people around the neighborhood about her aunt's dream and begins earning money by helping the produce man at his store, an elderly woman with her kittens and the librarian with her Spanish. Soon, they have enough saved. The car they choose is shiny green with plenty of room for the whole family. The two drive back to their apartment to celebrate the purchase with Tío Andrés. The last two pages show the young girl, now reunited with her parents, on the beach. Muñoz captures all of the action in watercolors accented with ink and pencil. Besides the pleasant story, the interwoven Spanish and references to "Helping Money" and families divided by immigration may make the book particularly appealing to immigrant Latino children.

A pleasant tale of determination. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.20(w) x 10.70(h) x 0.40(d)
AD630L (what's this?)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Meg Medina is the author of the middle-grade novel Milagros: Girl from Away. The idea for her first picture book began with the true story of her family’s first car. She grew up in Queens, New York, and now lives in Richmond, Virginia.

Claudio Muñoz is an award-winning illustrator who has worked for many newspapers and magazines as well as illustrating several children’s books. Born in Chile, he now lives in England.

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Tia Isa Wants a Car 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tia Isa Wants a Car is the story of Tia Isa and her niece getting a car to take them wherever they want to go. Her family lives on an island far away from where they live. Most of the money Tia Isa earns is sent to her family as helping money since her father is sick. The book is appropriate to read for first to 4th graders. Tia Isa’s niece tells the story in the book. The book is written in first person by Meg Medina. The book takes place in a warm city close to the coast. When Tia Isa tells her brother Tio Andres she wants a car, he says to her: “You’re not a rich queen. We walk to everything we need here.” Tia Isa’s niece realizes that they don’t have enough money to buy a car. This is important because it’s the conflict of the story. When Tia Isa wants to drive to go to the beach, she can’t because she does not have a enough money to buy a car. Her niece raises money to buy a car by doing small jobs around town. Those jobs were stacking oranges, feeding cats, teaching Spanish to a librarian. Claudio Munoz drew the pictures with pencil and ink and used water color to paint them. Munoz uses detail to explain what's happening in the book. An example of that is on Page 11 when Tia Isa is trying to buy a car but she doesn’t have enough money. He shows the expression on the car salesman's face. The car salesman's face looked confused. His head is cocked sideways, and his hand is up in the air. He paints a second painting at the bottom of each page with text to put the page into summary. For example on Page 2 he painted a picture of sea shells because the text refers to the beach: “ ‘Un piscore,’ she says, ‘to take us to the beach!’” in addition on Page 6 he painted a picture of work boots because the text refers to Tia Isa stepping over her brother’s work boots: “Tia just whistles as she steps over Tio’s work boots.” I think the book was good for kids first through 4th grade because it teaches the how and why saving money is important. Saving money is a good skill to learn because if you ever want something that cost a lot you can save up for it. Meg shows this is by telling us how the niece helps to save money by working and saving all of her money to buy a car. The author used good vocabulary for a childrens book.