All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Mike Curato

Published by Henry Holt and Company

Summary:  A boy describes the trip he and his family are taking from the Cuban countryside to the city of Havana to visit relatives.  Their mode of transportation is an ancient sky-blue Chevy, whose nickname is “Cara Cara” because of the sound it makes when it runs.  The engine, the boy says, is held together with “wire, tape, and mixed-up scraps of dented metal”.  Nevertheless, they get it started and head out to the highway, joining the colorful parade of other pre-1959 cars.  There are many interesting sights along the way; the family gathering is a success; and Cara Cara gets everyone back home again as night is falling.  An author’s note explains how the cars are symbolic of the resourcefulness and ingenuity of the Cuban people; the illustrator’s note describes their trip to Cuba to create the book.  40 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  Car fans will love the illustrations and details of the many different automobiles, including labeled ones on the endpapers.  Readers will get a vivid taste of Cuban life with illustrations that may get a look from the Caldecott committee.

Cons:  Some additional photos from the trip to Cuba would have been a nice addition. (There’s one of the car that was used as a model for the book.)

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