PreS-Gr 2This charming debut from the daughter of illustrator Julie Vivas is just right for story time. Little Antonio introduces his extended family and explains that Mam is the biggest because "she is going to have a baby any day now." Everyday she sends the boy to gather the family for their midday meal. On Monday, Pap can't leave his busy carpentry shop. On Tuesday, his sister Alicia is learning to dance the sevillanas for the summer fiesta. Day after day, when there is an empty seat at the table that Pap built and Mam has filled with inviting food, she sighs, "Ay, qu pena! What a pity." Eventually, it is Mam herself who is missing because it's time for her to have baby Rosa. Children will delight in Antonio's grown-up responsibilities and enjoy the comfortable but unique predictability of the text. They will understand exactly how Antonio feels when he sighs, "Ay, qu pena!" because it's Mam's chair that's empty. While not specified, the setting is obviously Spain and several Spanish words, primarily related to food, are interspersed. The vibrant watercolor illustrations are accentuated by a crisp white background. As in Mem Fox's Possum Magic (Harcourt, 1990) and Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge (Kane/Miller, 1985), Vivas's distinctive style is unmistakable. This is one happy, active family and the pictures exude warmth and vitality.Alicia Eames, Brooklyn Public Library
In a winning celebration of the many loving circles of relationships in an extended family, newcomer Zamorano and veteran Vivas have collaborated on a snapshot of two weeks in the lives of a large Spanish clan.
Antonio, the narrator, is the smallest, and "Mamá is the biggest. She is going to have a baby any day now." Every day at two o'clock, the family gathers at the big wooden table in the kitchen for a meal: "When we are all at the table Mamá is happy." On Monday, one of the seven chairs is empty because Papá must work. "Ay, qué pena," sighs their mother. "What a pity." A different person is absent each subsequent day. On Saturday, the missing person is Mamá, who has gone to the hospital to have a baby girl. It is Antonio's turn to sigh at the empty chair: "Ay, qué pena!" Two weeks later they're all together again, and Mamá sighs, "Qué maravilla! How wonderful that everyone is eating together!" Set in the author's native Spain, there is an effortless use of Spanish words and phrases (a glossary is included) throughout this enveloping and big-hearted book. Vivas's handsome, stylized watercolors make use of rounded formsbowls, table, Mama's belly, and, finally, the small head of Rosa, the new babyto convey the warmth of the family circle. Qué maravilla, indeed.