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 carcachaher jalopywith all the things she needs: a plumed snake, a castle, a skeleton, and more. Her grandson knows he has the most amazing grandmother everwith 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.
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.)