Areli Is a Dreamer: A True Story /Areli Es Una Dreamer: Una Historia Real by Areli Morales, a DACA recipient/beneficiaria de DACA, illustrated by Luisa Uribe

Published by Random House Studio

Spanish and English versions available

Areli Is a Dreamer: A True Story by Areli Morales, a DACA Recipient:  Morales, Areli, Uribe, Luisa: 9781984893994: Books
Areli Es Una Dreamer (Areli Is a Dreamer Spanish Edition): Una Historia  Real por Areli Morales, Beneficiaria de DACA - Kindle edition by Morales,  Areli, Uribe, Luisa. Children Kindle eBooks @
Areli Es Una Dreamer (Areli Is a Dreamer Spanish Edition): Una Historia  Real por Areli Morales, Beneficiaria de DACA: Morales, Areli, Uribe, Luisa:  9780593380086: Books

Summary:  Areli Morales tells her story, beginning with her childhood in Mexico where she lived with Abuela.  Every Saturday her parents would call from the United States, and Areli dreamed of the day she could join them there.  Her older brother Alex lived with her, but eventually was able to leave, because, unlike Areli, he had been born in the U.S.  Finally, when Areli was in kindergarten, she got word that she would be able to join the rest of the family.  When Areli arrived, she was thrilled to be with her parents and Alex, but struggled to learn English and fit in at school, where kids sometimes called her “illegal”.  As the years passed, things got easier, and a fifth grade field trip to Ellis Island made Areli realize how many other immigrants had come to America just like she had, and helped her to dream of a bright future in America.  Includes an author’s note about her DACA status: how she obtained it, what opportunities it opened up for her, and how it has been threatened.  40 pages; grades K-4.

Pros:  Areli’s story is told in a way that will engage younger readers but also show older kids the experience of immigrating to the U.S. and what it means to be a DACA recipient.  Kids who have had an experience similar to Areli’s will appreciate her story, and those who haven’t will get a child’s perspective on what it’s like.

Cons:  I liked Areli’s author’s note, but I would have liked even more information or additional resources about DACA.

Paletero Man by Lucky Diaz, illustrated by Micah Player

Published by HarperCollins

Paletero Man: Diaz, Lucky, Player, Micah: 9780063014442: Books
Paletero Man: Diaz, Lucky, Player, Micah: 9780063014442: Books

Summary:  A boy travels through his L.A. neighborhood on a hot summer day, in search of Paletero José, a pushcart vendor with cool treats.  As he goes, he greets other friends selling their goods on the streets, but won’t be deterred from his destination.  Finally he arrives, makes his selection, reaches into his pocket…and discovers that his money is gone!  Lucky for him, the friends along the way noticed the coins falling as he ran, picked them up, and followed him.  With a “muchas gracías, amigos,” he goes to make his purchase, but Paletero José has a different idea: free paletas for all in celebration of kindness.  32 pages; ages 3-8.

Pros:  Enjoy this summer treat celebrating kindness and community from Latin Grammy winner Lucky Diaz.  The rhyming text is catchy, interspersed with Spanish words and phrases, and the colorful illustrations evoke a vibrant neighborhood on a bright summer day.

Cons:  I was drooling by the end.

Training Day (El Toro & Friends) by Raúl the Third, colors by Elaine Bay

Published by Versify

Training Day | HMH Books

Summary:  El Toro has a big match coming up, wrestling The Wall.  His trainer, Kooky Dooky, has lots of ideas about how to get him ready, but first he must get El Toro out of bed.  This proves challenging, as El Toro doesn’t want to eat breakfast, stretch, or go for a jog…he just wants to sleep.  Finally, though, he is ready for action and, cheered on by his fans, he zips through every challenge Kooky Dooky puts before him.  When it’s time for the big match, El Toro defeats The Wall with one big “Pow!”.  56 page; ages 4-8.

Pros:  Raúl the Third brings the fun of his ¡Vamos! books to this new early reader series that is sure to be a hit.  There are many Spanish translations of English words and phrases in the text, with the Spanish in a purple font to make it readily distinguishable.  Book 2 (Tag Team) was published simultaneously.  Let’s hope this is just the beginning.

Cons:  After all that training, I wish the wrestling match had been longer than a single page.

We Laugh Alike/Juntos Nos Reímos by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez

Published by Charlesbridge

We Laugh Alike / Juntos nos reímos by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand:  9781623540968 | Books
We Laugh Alike / Juntos nos reímos – Charlesbridge

Summary:  Two groups of kids meet on the playground: three speak English and three speak Spanish.  At first, the groups watch and listen to each other, unable to speak the others’ language.  Gradually, they find things in common: jumping rope, dancing, and enjoying the playground equipment.  By the end of the day, they’re playing together and learning words from a new language.  Then it’s “¡Hasta mañana!” and “See you tomorrow!” as each group heads off in a different direction.  Includes a glossary of Spanish and English words and an author’s note about the importance of learning languages, written in both English and Spanish.  32 pages; grades K-3.

Pros:  A cute story about overcoming language barriers to friendship.  The text is written in English and Spanish, which could help kids learn a few words in a new language.

Cons:  There were a few pages of text around the jump rope scene that weren’t translated, or the translation was a little confusing.

Hear My Voice/Escucha Mi Voz: The Testimonies of Children Detained at the Southern Border of the United States compiled by Warren Binford for Project Amplify

Published by Workman Publishing Hear My Voice/Escucha mi voz: The Testimonies of Children  Detained at the Southern Border of the United States (English and Spanish  Edition) (9781523513482): Binford, Warren, Bochenek, Michael Garcia: Books Hear My Voice/Escucha mi voz: The Testimonies of Children  Detained at the Southern Border of the United States (English and Spanish  Edition) (9781523513482): Binford, Warren, Bochenek, Michael Garcia: Books

Summary:  International children’s advocate Warren Binford was shocked by his 2019 visit to  the Clint Border Patrol Station in Texas where he found over 350 children locked in a warehouse, a loading dock, and overcrowded cells.  After Donald Trump and Mike Pence refused to acknowledge the truth about Clint, Warren and his colleagues went on social media to ask artists, writers, faith leaders, and anyone else to help these children tell their stories.  Project Amplify has resulted in songs, plays, billboards, works of art, and now this book, which is a collection of the children’s stories in their own words.  Illustrated by 17 Latinx artists, the text is in both English and Spanish, and lets the kids tell why they left their countries for the U.S. and the deplorable conditions they experienced once they got here.  Includes a foreword by Michael Garcia Bochenek of Human Rights Watch and several pages about Project Amplify and the book, including thumbnail portraits of each artist and questions to ask children about the text.  96 pages; ages 8 and up.

Pros:  An incredibly powerful book, made more so by the amazing illustrations (some realistic and some more fantastic), and the back matter.  

Cons:  It’s hard to recommend an age group for this book.  While I think there are plenty of elementary kids who would learn a lot from it, it should definitely be read with some adult guidance.

Zonia’s Rain Forest by Juana Martinez-Neal (released March 30)

Published by Candlewick

Zonia's Rain Forest: Martinez-Neal, Juana, Martinez-Neal, Juana:  9781536208450: Books
Zonia's Rain Forest: Martinez-Neal, Juana, Martinez-Neal, Juana:  9781536208450: Books

Summary:  “Every morning the rain forest calls to Zonia.”  Off she goes with her animal friends: playing hide-and-seek, running races, and lying quiet and still.  After a day with the animals, she’s ready to return to her parents and baby brother.  On the way home, though, she stumbles upon something she’s never seen before: the severed stumps of trees that have been cut down.  She tells her mother that the forest needs help, and her mother says it is calling to her.  “‘Then I will answer,’ says Zonia, ‘as I always do.’”  Includes additional information about the Asháninka, the largest indigenous group living in the Peruvian rain forest; a few facts about the Amazon; threats to the Amazon; and Zonia’s animal friends in order of appearance.  Spanish version also available: La Selva de Zonia. 40 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  This is sure to be a hit with any child who loves animals.  Zonia’s life in the rain forest looks like a lot of fun, and the animals are beautifully rendered.  The environmental message is delivered delicately, then reinforced with the excellent back matter.  Another Caldecott contender!

Cons:  I hate to mention it with all the excellent back matter, but I would have liked to have seen a map.

Selena: Queen of Tejano Music by Silvia López, illustrated by Paola Escobar

Published by little bee books Selena, reina de la música tejana (9781499811438): López, Silvia,  Escobar, Paola: Books Queen of Tejano Music: Selena (9781499809770): López, Silvia,  Escobar, Paola: Books

Summary:  Growing up in Texas, Selena Quintanilla was surrounded by music from an early age.  Her father taught her older siblings to play guitar and drums, and Selena soon proved herself to be a natural performer, singing and dancing to their music.  By the time she was nine years old, they were performing regularly in her father’s restaurant.  A few years later, the restaurant went out of business and the family fell on hard times.  Touring and making music seemed like the only way to make a living.  There was a demand for Tejano music, so Selena learned Spanish to perform the popular songs.  By the time she was in her late teens, Selena was an award-winning star, loved in both Mexico and the U.S.  She also was a popular celebrity, treating both her fans and co-workers with kindness and respect.  The final page memorializes Selena as a trailblazer and role model.  Includes several pages of additional information about Selena and her music, ending with a few paragraphs about her murder at the age of 23. A Spanish-language version of this book, Selena: Reina de la Música Tejana is also available. 48 pages; grades 2-5.

Pros:  Here’s another book I’ve been anticipating for several months, as my music-loving daughter has gotten me interested in learning more about Selena.  As I imagine is true for many others, I only knew about her death, so I’m glad this book has been written to celebrate her life and legacy.  There’s a lot of text, but the story is so engaging it doesn’t feel like a lot to plow through, and the illustrations really capture Selena’s spirit.  I was even inspired to watch the official video of “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom”, which is an incredibly catchy tune.  Sadly, as the book concludes, quoting Selena biographer Joe Nick Patoski: “The debate will never cease as to what could have been.”

Cons:  This book seems to be getting recommended for the 6-9 age group, but I think older kids will appreciate it more, due to both the text-heavy story and the tragic ending.

Sharuko: El Arqueólogo Peruano Julio C. Tello/Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello by Monica Brown, illustrated by Elisa Chavarri

Published by Children’s Book Press (Released August 18)

Sharuko: El Arqueólogo Peruano Julio C. Tello / Peruvian ...

Summary:  Born in Peru in 1880, Julio Tello grew up in an indigenous community, speaking Quecha, the language of the Inca Empire.  His adventurous nature earned him the Quecha nickname Sharuko, meaning “brave”.  He and his brother discovered bones, pottery, and even some human skulls as they explored the foothills of the Andes.  At 12, he went to live with his aunt and study in Lima, eventually graduating from medical school.  After getting a degree in anthropology and archaeology from Harvard, he worked as an archaeologist at the Museum of Natural History in Lima.  His archaeological discoveries showed that indigenous cultures had existed in Peru more than 3,000 years ago, refuting the theories that these cultures originated in Mexico or Central America.  He became director of the new Museum of Anthropology, where he was able to share his discoveries with Peruvians, transforming their understanding of their history.  Includes maps; an afterword, illustrator’s note, and list of sources.  40 pages; grades 2-6.

Pros:  Written in both Spanish and English, this story shines a light on Peruvian history and a man who single-handedly helped rewrite it.  The colorful illustrations feature some of the art and artifacts Tello helped discover.

Cons:  Readers will need some background knowledge to appreciate the story; although the format is a picture book, this will probably appeal more to older elementary and even middle school kids.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

Three Billy Goats Buenos by Susan Middleton Elya, illustrated by Miguel Ordóñez

Published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Image result for three billy goats buenos

Image result for three billy goats buenos

Summary:  The familiar story of the three billy goats gruff is told in rhyming text with a few dozen Spanish words incorporated into the story.  A glossary of the Spanish words appears at the beginning of the book so readers can refer back to it. The story is simple, but includes a twist when the biggest goat discovers the troll has a thorn stuck in her toe.  His sympathy brings a few tears to the troll’s eyes, and the goats work together to remove the thorn and apply some soothing herbs. There’s a happy ending for all four of the new amigos.  32 pages; ages 3-8.

Pros:  Susan Middleton Elya has produced another winning retelling of a familiar folktale that incorporates Spanish words and culture.  The rhyming text and simple, geometrical illustrations will make this an appealing choice for even the youngest readers.

Cons:  I didn’t care for the illustrations as much Juana Martinez-Neal’s in La Princesa and the Pea.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael López

Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers 

Image result for dancing hands how teresa carreño played the piano for president lincoln

Image result for dancing hands how teresa carreño played the piano for president lincoln

Summary:  Teresa Carreño had a gift for piano from the time she was a little girl in Venezuela.  War drove her family from their home and to the United States, where another war was raging–the Civil War.  Teresa found that music offered her a refuge from the sadness and suffering, and by the time she was ten years old, she was known as Piano Girl, performing all over the country.  She was amazed to get an invitation from President Abraham LIncoln to play at the White House, and nervous about accepting it. When the big day arrived, she found that the White House piano was poorly tuned, and didn’t know if she’d be able to perform.  But Lincoln asked her to play his favorite song, “Listen to the Mockingbird”, and once again music provided magical healing powers. An author’s note gives a bit more information about Carreño and her later musical career. 40 pages; grades K-4.  

Pros:  Acclaimed poet Margarita Engle and illustrator Rafael Lopez team up once again to create a beautiful story about a little-known episode in musical history.  Kids will be inspired to learn of the hard work and fame of this 10-year-old girl.

Cons:  I was expecting something bigger from the final scene in the White House.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.