Pura Belpre Award Books

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Title of book: Mango, Abuela, and Me

Author(s) & Illustrator(s): Meg Medina; Angela Dominguez

Genre: picture book, realistic fiction

Publisher, place & date of publication: Candlewick Press; Somerville, MA; 2015

Awards: Pura Belpre, 2016

Themes/Topics: family, learning languages (Spanish and English)

Summary: Mia’s Abuela, or Grandmother, has come to live with her and her family because she is too old to live alone in her house. She even lives in the same room as Mia, but she is not excited because her and Abuela’s mouths are empty-neither of them know enough of the other person’s language to be able to talk to each other! Still, Mia is determined to get to know her grandmother, so with some tricks from school, and a new pet for Abuela, hopefully they will grow closer than ever.

Response: An interesting element of this author’s style and language throughout the book was the weaving of both Spanish and English words in the story. At first, this comes from Mia and Abuela doing activities together and teaching each other their own language, but then the role of translator is cleverly filled with Mango, the parrot, who repeats both English and Spanish phrases. This book would be ideal for an introduction to Spanish or English in the classroom. 

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Title of book: Green is a Chile Pepper

Author(s) Illustrator(s): Roseanne Greenfield Thong; John Parra 

Genre: picture book, informational

Publisher, place & date of publication: Chronicle Books LLC; San Francisco, CA; 2014

Awards: Pura Belpre, 2015

Themes/Topics: colors, languages and customs/traditions (English and Spanish)

Summary: Green is a chile pepper. And also the cornstalks and the bench for abuela’s tales.  Yellow are the stars, and faroles. Red is a spice and the salsa on top of rice. This book is all about colors and the many places that we find them, with a dash of Spanish and a hint of English on each page, you will feel as though one language is not enough to express the beautiful things that we can see every day!

Response: This book is a delight to the senses for children and adults alike, not only because of its warm illustrations, but also because of its rhyming words and use of both Spanish and English. It intentionally draws the reader to both familiar and exciting Hispanic customs in a way that the reader does not feel overwhelmed by the bilingual nature of the book. There is also a glossary in the back for English-only speakers to look up the Spanish words. However, if this book is in the classroom, those readers won’t be English-only for long!

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Title of book: Little Roja Riding Hood

Author(s) Illustrator(s): Susan Middleton Elya; Susan Guevara 

Genre: picture book, fairytale 

Publisher, place & date of publication: the Penguin Group; New York, NY; 2014

Awards: Pura Belpre, 2015

Themes/Topics: fairytales, bravery/preparedness, Spanish

Summary: This spin off the classic “Little Red Riding Hood” tells the similar tale of Roja, formerly known as Red, taking soup to take care of her grandmother. We all know the story-she is met and distracted by Lobo, or Wolf, within the forest. The evil Lobo then sneaks off in a ruse to devour poor Abuela. Will both grannies meet the same fate? Or is this Roja and her abuelita more resourceful? Read to find out in this fun and daring Spanish-English adventure!

Response: I loved this story, especially the quick-thinking and spunky Roja, as well as the modern twist in the ending! As I was reading, I was visualizing myself using this as a read aloud to learn about context clues, and Spanish, at the same time. I would read the words just as they were, and using the pictures and the English text provided, I am confident that student would be able to translate the terms on their own. I would then have them look in the glossary to see confirm or correct their inferences. I also think my students would love the fact that Roja is riding a four-wheeler through the forest to her grandma’s house!

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