Book Review: My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero, illus by Zeke Peña


Review by Emily R. Aguiló-Pérez

DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK: When Daisy Ramona zooms around her neighborhood with Papi on his motorcycle, she sees the people and places she’s always known: the tortillería!, Abuelita’s church!, Franky, the barking Labradoodle! She also sees a community that is changing around her. But as Daisy and her papi reach the homestretch, the purple, blue, and gold sky glowing behind them, she knows that some things, like the love from her papi and family, will never change. With vivid illustrations and text bursting with heart, My Papi Has a Motorcycle is a young girl’s love letter to her hardworking dad and to the feeling of home we always carry with us.

The book is also available in Spanish as Mi papi tiene una moto.

MY TWO CENTS: Through this book, Quintero writes a love letter to her father “who showed [her] different ways of experiencing home” and a love letter to Corona, California, “a city that will always be a part of [her]” (Author’s note). The book begins with Daisy reading a book as she waits for her father to come home and take her on a ride around the city on his motorcycle. A wonderful feast to the eyes on this first page is the intertextuality that illustrator Zeke Peña provides: the book Daisy is reading is Lowriders to the Center of the Earth (written by Cathy Camper and illustrated by Raul the Third). It is a small, yet delightful, nod for readers who are familiar with the book series.

As the duo sets off on their journey, they pass many sights that are staples of Daisy’s city. There’s her Abuela’s church, Joy’s Market – where Mami buys Daisy’s gummy bears –, Rocket Repair, and Don Rudy’s Raspados – Daisy’s favorite place for shaved ice, which seems to have closed down. This is a point of concern for Daisy, who notices how disappointed her father is and affirms that she will not be the only one who misses the place. It comes as a happy surprise for her, then, when at the end of her journey that evening Don Rudy comes by with shaved ice, now in a small and portable cart.

Not only does the reader go on a tour of these places that Daisy enjoys, but we also get a glimpse into her life, her family’s life, her neighborhood, and some of the important history about the city. Passing by the murals painted around, Daisy explains their importance: “We roar past murals that tell our history – of citrus groves and immigrants who worked them, and of the famous road race that took place on Grand Boulevard a hundred years ago.”

As they race their way through Grand Boulevard, Daisy imagines being part of the races, the crowd cheering her on. The way Quintero weaves some of the history with Daisy’s daily life and imagination is brilliant, as readers are able to see the city through her eyes – lovingly and full of admiration – and at the same time they learn some of its history, as Daisy learns it, too.

In her author’s note, Quintero explains how the story was inspired by her own childhood in Corona, California. Through her words and Peña’s illustrations, she wanted to honor the immigrant workers, like her grandfather, who did the majority of the hard labor that helped establish the city, and a lot of the U.S. She explains that while the murals [Zeke Peña] created were imagined, the history they depicted was real.” These details, such as the city holding the road race on what is now known as Grand Boulevard, or the fact that Corona was known as the “Lemon Capital of the World” because of all the citrus that was cultivated there, were all present in the journey Daisy takes the reader.

There is so much heart in this book! It is clear how much Daisy loves and admires her papi, whose voice – she says – touches everything, even when everything around them is noisy. It doesn’t matter what else is going on, her father is central in her life. She admires his work as a carpenter, a job that he has had since he first arrived to the country, showing the reader not only his hard work, but how much she appreciates him for spending this sacred time with her even when he comes home really tired.

The language is very literary and the descriptions are vivid. One of my favorite combinations of vivid descriptions in the text and detailed imagery in the illustrations comes from a spread where Daisy describes how she and her dad take off on the motorcycle. She says the shiny blue metal up the motorcycle glows in the sun, making the sky blue and purple and gold. This rich imagery is further enhanced by Peña’s mix of colors and his placement of the duo at the center of a pool of gold, as if they were riding right into the sun. Peña’s use of comics elements like speech bubbles or onomatopoeic graphics like “VROOOOOOOM” when the motorcycle is revving up are a perfect fit for Quintero’s words.

Daisy and her papi’s motorcycle ride around the city is more than just a ride; it is really her life. And no matter how far she goes from the city or how many changes it undergoes, it will always be a part of her. This really shows how important this place is for her and how much of her identity is tied to it. Quintero closes the narrative with Daisy enjoying her shaved ice, sitting with her papi. Lovingly, Daisy thinks about her town and “all the changes it’s been through,” and finds comfort in knowing that in her little house with her family “there are things that will always stay the same.” “Mañana we fly again,” her dad assures her.

TEACHING TIPS: This book makes for a wonderful read aloud for all ages. It would be a strong mentor text for writing, and teachers could focus on:

  • The use of vivid descriptions
  • The importance of setting(s) in a story
  • Characterization

In addition, the book’s detailed illustrations can be great for teaching or developing visual literacy, asking students to explore how the illustrations support the text.

For older readers, the questions Quintero poses in her author’s note can be used for teaching this book. Who are the people who build our cities and form our communities? Who are the people who get streets named after them, and who are the people who lay the asphalt? These could become the basis of individual or collective research projects for students to learn more about their communities.

IsabelQABOUT THE AUTHOR: (from the dust jacket) Isabel Quintero is the daughter of Mexican immigrants. She lives and writes in the Inland Empire of Southern California. Isabel is the author of Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, which received the Morris Award, the Ugly Cat & Pablo chapter book series, and was commissioned to write Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide, which was awarded the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award. One of her favorite memories is riding on the back of her papi’s motorcycle as a little girl.


Zeke PenaABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR: (from the dust jacket) Zeke Peña is a cartoonist and illustrator working on the United States/Mexico frontera in El Paso, Texas. He makes comics to remix history and reclaim stories using satire and humor; resistencia one cartoon at a time. Zeke studied Art History at the University of Texas Austin and is self-taught in digital illustration. The graphic biography he illustrated titled Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide received the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award.




headshotABOUT THE REVIEWER: Emily R. Aguiló-Pérez is an Assistant Professor of English (Children’s Literature) at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Her teaching and research are in the areas of children’s literature (particularly Latinx literature), girlhood studies, and children’s cultures. Her published work has focused on girlhood as represented in literature and Puerto Rican girls’ identity formation with Barbie dolls. She has presented research on Latinx children’s books at various conferences and has served on children’s book award committees such as the 2017 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award and the 2018 Pura Belpré Award. Currently, she is part of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book’s “A Baker’s Dozen” committee.



May and June 2019 Latinx Book Deals


Compiled by Cecilia Cackley

This is a bi-monthly series keeping track of the book deals announced by Latinx writers and illustrators. The purpose of this series is to celebrate book deals by authors and illustrators in our community and to advocate for more of them. If you are an agent and you have a Latinx client who just announced a deal, you can let me know on Twitter, @citymousedc. If you are a Latinx author or illustrator writing for children or young adults, and you just got a book deal, send me a message and we will celebrate with you! And if I left anyone out here, please let me know! Here’s to many more wonderful books in the years to come.

May 2


May 7

Alyson Heller at Aladdin has bought world rights, in a preempt, to Definitely Dominguita: The Knight of the Cape by Terry Catasús Jennings, first in a chapter book series featuring Dominguita Melendez and her adventures inspired by classic stories, starting with Don Quijote. Publication is planned for spring 2021. Author agent: Natalie Lakosil at Bradford Literary Agency.


Joan Powers at Candlewick has bought the picture books Lupe Lopez: Rock Star Rules and a sequel, co-written by Pat Zietlow Miller and e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, illustrated by Joe Cepeda. Lupe Lopez is a sunglasses-wearing, drumstick (pencil)-wielding kindergartner whose personal rules differ from school rules—but who finds her way (and her fellow rock stars) with some hard work and creativity. Publication is slated for fall 2021. Author agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette and Erin Murphy at Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Illustrator agent:  Jennifer Rofé at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.


Julia Sooy at Henry Holt/Godwin has bought, in a preempt, world rights to Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years author Stacy McAnulty‘s Brains! Not Just a Zombie Snack, illustrated by Matthew Rivera. The nonfiction picture book is an introduction to the human brain, as told by a (mostly reformed) brain-eating zombie. Publication is planned for spring 2020. Illustrator agent: Andrea Cascardi at Transatlantic Agency.

May 9

Katie Cunningham at Candlewick has bought world rights to David Martin‘s The More the Merrier, with Raissa Figueroa illustrating. The book follows the animals of the forest as they shimmy and shake, dancing their way through the woods as others join in the fun. Publication is scheduled for spring 2021. Illustrator agent: Natascha Morris at BookEnds Literary.

May 14

Stacey Barney at Putnam has acquired Olivia Abtahi‘s YA novel Perfectly Parvin, pitched as an Iranian-American Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging. When Parvin Mohammadi sets out to get Matty Fumero—the cutest boy at school—to ask her to homecoming, she creates a foolproof plan to win him over: 1) Don’t talk so much; 2) Act like the heroines in her favorite rom-coms; 3) Basically be everything she’s not. But a different boy from Farsi class may derail her plans by liking her just as she is. Publication is set for spring 2021. Author agent: Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret.


Christianne Jones at Capstone has acquired world English rights to Pacho Nacho, a picture book by Silvia López, illustrated by Pablo Pino. Mamá and Papá could not agree on a name for their first baby, so they name him Pacho-Nacho-Nico-Tico-Melo-Felo-Kiko-Rico. But when Pacho finds himself in trouble, his younger brother, Juan, must quickly find help, which isn’t easy when you have to keep saying Pacho-Nacho-Nico-Tico-Melo-Felo-Kiko-Rico. Publication is set for spring 2020. Author agent: Karen Grencik at Red Fox Literary. Illustrator agent: Samantha Groff at Advocate Art.


Rebecca Glaser at Amicus Ink has acquired world rights to A Little Round Panda on the Big Blue Earth, written by Tory Christie and illustrated by Luciana Navarro Powell, their second collaboration. The book features ever-widening views that take the reader from close to far away. Publication is scheduled for fall 2020. Illustrator agent:Deborah Warren at East West Literary Agency.

May 16

Lee Wade at Random House/Schwartz & Wade has acquired world rights to The Creature of Habit by YA novelist Jennifer E. Smith, illustrated by Leo Espinosa, a picture book about a lovable creature on the Island of Habit whose daily routine is disrupted when a new creature shows up and turns everything upside down. Publication is slated for fall 2021.

May 21

Susan Rich at Little, Brown has acquired world rights to a debut picture book by Matt Ringler illustrated by Raúl the Third. Strollercoaster! celebrates a temper tantrum ingeniously averted when a father transforms an everyday walk outside into a joyous strollercoaster ride through the neighborhood. Publication is scheduled for spring 2021. Illustrator agent: Jennifer Laughran at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

May 23


May 28

Bria Ragin at HarperCollins has bought, in a two-book deal, Tami Charles‘s Zuri Ray Tries Ballet, the first in a picture book series about courage, kindness, and being true to yourself. The books star a biracial girl with a big personality and lots of heart. Sharon Sordo will illustrate; publication is slated for summer 2021. Author agent:  Lara Perkins at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

June 4


June 6

Natashya Wilson at Inkyard has acquired an as-yet untitled YA novel by sisters Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite, in which a teen girl decides to honor the memory of her sister who died in police custody by taking a road trip inspired by her history buff sister’s heirloom copy of the Green Book, the civil rights-era guide to safe traveling for African-Americans. Publication is tentatively set for fall 2020. Author agent: JL Stermer at New Leaf Literary & Media.

June 11


June 13

Carolina Ortiz at HarperCollins has bought world rights to Eisner-nominated author and illustrator Amparo Ortiz and Ronnie Garcia‘s Saving Chupie, a middle grade graphic novel adventure about Violeta Rubio and her friends’ mission to protect their local Chupacabra, set in a recovering town in Puerto Rico. Publication is planned for winter 2022. Author agent: Linda Camacho at Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency. Illustrator agent: Peter Ryan at Stimola Literary Studio.


Mabel Hsu at HarperCollins/Tegen has acquired, in a preempt, C.G. Esperanza‘s Boogie Boogie, Y’all. When two kids stop to admire the vibrant graffiti tucked into every corner of their city, the art begins to leap off the wall to boogie with them, in this celebratory ode to graffiti and the Bronx community. Publication is planned for winter 2021. Author agent: Marietta B. Zacker at Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency.

June 18

Alexis Orgera and Chad Reynolds at Penny Candy have acquired world rights to Eunice and Kate by Mariana Llanos. The picture book tells the story of two best friends who learn the value of respecting each other’s dreams. Italian illustrator Elena Napoli will illustrate. The book will be published in spring 2020.

June 20

Brett Duquette at Little Bee has bought world rights to Janet Lawler‘s Kindergarten Hat, illustrated by Geraldine Rodríguez, a picture book in which shy Carlos Abredo is nervous to start his first day of kindergarten until a special teacher brightens his day. Publication is scheduled for summer 2020. Illustrator agent: James Burns at the Bright Agency.

June 25

Eliza Swift at Sourcebooks Jabberwocky has acquired world rights to Shelly Vaughan James’s debut picture book, Fussy Flamingo, illustrated by Matthew Rivera. The comedic tale of a picky eater follows a young flamingo who refuses to eat the shrimp that will make her feathers pink, and instead sneaks away for unauthorized snacks that turn her increasingly ridiculous colors. Publication is set for spring 2020. Illustrator agent: Andrea Cascardi at Transatlantic Agency.



cecilia-02-original Cecilia Cackley is a Mexican-American playwright and puppeteer based in Washington, DC. A longtime bookseller, she is currently the Children’s/YA buyer and event coordinator for East City Bookshop on Capitol Hill. Find out more about her art at or follow her on Twitter @citymousedc

March and April 2019 Latinx Book Deals


Compiled by Cecila Cackley

This is a bi-monthly series keeping track of the book deals announced by Latinx writers and illustrators. The purpose of this series is to celebrate book deals by authors and illustrators in our community and to advocate for more of them. If you are an agent and you have a Latinx client who just announced a deal, you can let me know on Twitter, @citymousedc. If you are a Latinx author or illustrator writing for children or young adults, and you just got a book deal, send me a message and we will celebrate with you! And if I left anyone out here, please let me know! Here’s to many more wonderful books in the years to come.


March 5

Laura Schreiber at Disney-Hyperion has bought, in a two-book preempt, Daniel Aleman‘s debut YA novel Indivisible. The novel follows a Mexican-American teenage boy whose life is thrown into chaos after his parents, undocumented immigrants, are detained by ICE, leaving him to care for his young sister and fight for his family’s future. The book will publish in fall 2020. Author agent: Pete Knapp at Park & Fine Literary.

March 7

Nick Thomas, when at Scholastic/Levine, bought debut author Donna Barba Higuera‘s middle grade novel Lupe Wong Won’t Dance. When square dancing threatens 12-year-old baseball phenom Lupe’s guaranteed A in PE, she goes to extreme lengths to prevent the American tradition from taking place at her school, all while navigating the complexities of middle school friendships, gender biases, and her own bi-cultural identity. Publication is slated for 2020. Author agent: Allison Remcheck at Stimola Literary Studio.


Liza Baker at Scholastic has acquired, in a six-house auction, author Tami Charles‘s You Matter, a picture book celebrating children of color everywhere, and an affirmation of their worth and importance. You Matter will be illustrated by Bryan Collier (Martin’s Big Words); publication is scheduled for fall 2020. A second picture book, Aretha’s Voice, a biography of singer and civil rights activist Aretha Franklin, will follow. Author agent: Lara Perkins at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

March 12


March 14

Trisha de Guzman at FSG has acquired world rights to Adrianna Cuevas‘s debut middle grade novel, Nestor’s Guide to Unpacking, about a Cuban-American boy named Nestor with a secret ability to speak to animals. Nestor and his mother move to New Haven, Tex., while his father is deployed in Afghanistan, where he must use his ability when the town is threatened by a tule vieja, a witch that transforms into animals. Publication is set for spring 2020. Author agent: Stefanie Sanchez Von Borstel at Full Circle Literary.


Emily Feinberg at Roaring Brook has bought world rights to Jackie Azua Kramer‘s (The Green Umbrella) picture book, I Wish You Knew, about empathy in a diverse classroom of young students. Magdalena Mora will illustrate. Publication is planned for winter 2021. Illustrator agent: Steven Malk at Writers House.

March 19

Emily Feinberg at Roaring Brook has acquired world rights to Bye Land, Bye Sea, a bilingual picture book co-authored by Rodolfo Montalvo and René Spencer and illustrated by Montalvo, which tells the story of two children who meet on a deserted island and shows that friendship has no language barriers. The book is slated for winter 2021. Author agent: Joanna Volpe at New Leaf Literary & Media.


Louise May at Lee & Low has bought world rights to Monica Brown‘s Digging Up the Past: Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello, a bilingual picture book biography about the indigenous archaeologist considered the “father” of Peruvian archaeology. Peruvian-American illustrator Elisa Chavarri will provide the artwork. Publication is scheduled in 2020. Author agent: Stefanie Sanchez Von Borstel at Full Circle Literary. Illustrator agent: Claire Easton at Painted Words.

March 21

Kristin Rens at HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray has acquired at auction Chantel Acevedo‘s middle grade debut, Muse Squad: The Cassandra Curse. The first book in a series, the story is centered on Callie Martinez, an 11-year old Cuban-American girl, who discovers she’s one of the nine muses of classical history when she accidentally turns her best friend into a pop star. A Latino International Book Award winner and finalist of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, Acevedo is published on the adult side by Europa Editions. Publication is planned for summer 2020. Author agent: Stéphanie Abou at Massie McQuilkin Literary Agents.

March 26

Alyssa Mito Pusey at Charlesbridge has bought world rights to Lia & Luís: More? Mais!, a picture book about siblings Lia and Luís, who love Brazilian snacks but argue over who has more, by Ana Crespo, illustrated by Giovana Medeiros. Publication is scheduled for fall 2020. Author agent: Deborah Warren at East/West Literary Agency. Illustrator agent: Amanda Hendon at Advocate Art.

March 28


April 3

Holly West at Swoon Reads has bought Aiden Thomas‘s YA novel Cemetery Boys, pitched as The Outsiders meets The Road to El Dorado and Coco. A Latinx trans teen boy, hoping to release his cousin’s spirit and prove himself as a brujo, accidentally summons the wrong ghost and ends up falling in love with him. Publication is set for spring 2020. Author agent: Jennifer March Soloway at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

April 9

Catherine Laudone at Simon & Schuster has acquired The Dream Weaver, an #OwnVoices Latinx middle grade debut by Reina Luz Alegre. In this coming-of-age story, 12-year-old Zoey navigates the tricky waters of friendship and family while searching for a way to save her grandfather’s bowling alley from closing. Publication is scheduled for summer 2020. Author agent: Rebecca Podos at Rees Literary Agency.


Nancy Inteli at HarperCollins has bought Planting Stories author Anika Aldamuy Denise‘s tentatively titled Rosita Rising, a biography of EGOT winner Rita Moreno. The book will be illustrated by Pura Belpré Honor-winning artist Leo Espinosa. Publication is set for summer 2021. Author agent: Emily van Beek at Folio Jr./Folio Literary Management.

April 11

Claire Stetzer at Bloomsbury has acquired, at auction, Lilliam Rivera‘s Pheus & Eury, a YA retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice set in the Bronx. Pheus is a bachata-singing dreamer who falls in love with Eury, a girl who lost everything in Hurricane Maria and is haunted by the trauma—and by an evil spirit. Publication is scheduled for fall 2020. Author illustrator: Eddie Schneider at JABberwocky Literary Agency.

April 16


April 18

Nancy Mercado at Dial has acquired author-illustrator Nomar Perez‘s debut picture book, Coqui in the City. In the semi-autobiographical story, a boy and his mother emigrate from Puerto Rico to the U.S. mainland, and discover the importance of welcoming new experiences, while still holding onto their memories and the culture from home. Publication is set for spring 2021. Author agent: Lori Nowicki at Painted Words.


Anne Hoppe at Clarion has bought world rights to the picture book Princess, Inc. by Jacob Sager Weinstein, illustrated by Raissa Figueroa. When the king and queen are too busy with frills and sparkles to save the kingdom from a dragon, it’s up to the practical princess to roll up her sleeves and get the job done. Publication is set for fall 2020. Illustrator agent: Natascha Morris at BookEnds Literary Agency.

April 23

Kelsy Thompson at Flux has acquired Maria Ingrande Mora‘s debut LGBTQ+ YA fantasy novel, Fragile Remedy, pitched as The Walled City meets Never Let Me Go. A teen raised as donor tissue for the wealthy and now in hiding finds himself forced to choose between joining a nefarious organization with the means to prolong his life, or staying—and dying—with the boy he loves. Publication is planned for summer 2020. Author agent: Erica Bauman at Aevitas Creative Management.

April 25

Krestyna Lypen at Algonquin Young Readers has bought NBA longlisted author Samantha Mabry‘s new YA novel, Tigers, Not Daughters, loosely inspired by the story of King Lear and his daughters. Set in San Antonio, Tex., the novel follows the three Torres sisters, who are struggling to escape their tyrannical father’s claustrophobic world while dealing with the loss of their eldest sister; her troubling death continues to haunt—perhaps even literally—the loved ones left behind. Publication is scheduled for spring 2020. Author agent: Claire Anderson-Wheeler at Regal Hoffmann and Associates.

April 30



cecilia-02-originalCecilia Cackley is a Mexican-American playwright and puppeteer based in Washington, DC. A longtime bookseller, she is currently the Children’s/YA buyer and event coordinator for East City Bookshop on Capitol Hill. Find out more about her art at or follow her on Twitter @citymousedc

Book Review: Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal


Review by Mimi Rankin

DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK: Five friends cursed. Five deadly fates. Five nights of retribución.

If Lupe Dávila and Javier Utierre can survive each other’s company, together they can solve a series of grisly murders sweeping though Puerto Rico. But the clues lead them out of the real world and into the realm of myths and legends. And if they want to catch the killer, they’ll have to step into the shadows to see what’s lurking there—murderer, or monster?

MY TWO CENTS: As soon as I read about Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal (Tor Teen), I was determined to get my hands on a copy. YA horror-crime set in Puerto Rico? Everything about this called my name.

Lupe Dávila is a “Gringa Rican” spending her summer in Puerto Rico, leaving her alcoholic dad in Vermont to explore his homeland on her own for the first time. The niece of the police chief, Lupe finds herself attempting to solve a mysterious murder case when it seems like her missing cousin, Izzy, might be the next victim. One of Izzy’s oldest friends, Javier, is trying to make peace with himself and his sobriety, but when his old pals, Los Congregitos, keep being murdered in gruesome and inexpiable ways, all on their 18th birthdays, he fears as his own draws near. Can Javier and Lupe track down a vicious murderer before it’s too late?

First things first: I could not put this book down. I seriously considered taking a personal day from work to finish it (I tweeted this and both Cardinal and Tor Teen told me I was allowed to). The book combines mythology, crime, and a stark look at addiction, all set in the greater San Juan, Puerto Rico area. Each page sparked a new question in the best way possible. Is El Cuco real? What’s the deal with the ominous abuelita? I was pulled into the stories and backgrounds of the various characters and could not inhale the book quickly enough. The last few chapters felt slightly rushed, but there is so much action and detail packed into the climax, the racing could have just been from my own heartbeat.

One of Cardinal’s greatest strengths came through her characters. In particular, Marisol was one of the most fascinating and complex characters I’ve encountered in YA literature. She is bold and electric and passionate about her country and community. There is a sincere depth to her, and I would love nothing more than to see her succeed. Another character who I truly felt like I was getting to know as a human being was Javier. His struggle and battle with his addiction, his relationship with Padre Sebastian, and even his relationship with his family, all felt whole. The text even went as far to explain the socioeconomic misunderstanding of addiction; a favorite line is “My dad is a g—d—n lawyer.”

The world that Cardinal has created in San Juan was so tangible, painting both the stunning aspects of the city like the Spanish blue bricks of Old San Juan and the harsh realities of an island struggling to come back from a devastating hurricane and a corrupt government. Five Midnights invites readers to the captivating supernatural realm of an island just as mystifying with the resilience and heart of its people. I fully plan to champion Tor Teen to pick up a sequel—there is more havoc for El Cuco to cause and more stories to be told from Puerto Rico.

Photo by Carlos Cardinal - 2018ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ann Dávila Cardinal is a novelist and Director of Recruitment for Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA). She has a B.A. in Latino Studies from Norwich University, an M.A. in sociology from UI&U and an MFA in Writing from VCFA. She also helped create VCFA’s winter Writing residency in Puerto Rico.

Ann’s first novel, Sister Chicas was released from New American Library in 2006. Her next novel, a horror YA work titled Five Midnights, was released by Tor Teen on June 4, 2019.

Her stories have appeared in several anthologies, including A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Sons (2005) and Women Writing the Weird (2012) and she contributed to the Encyclopedia Latina: History, Culture, And Society in the United States edited by Ilan Stavans. Her essays have appeared in American ScholarVermont WomanAARP, and Latina Magazines. Ann lives in Vermont, needle-felts tiny reading creatures, and cycles four seasons a year.




file-2ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Mimi Rankin received her Master’s Degree with distinction in Children’s Literature from the University of Reading. Her thesis, on which she received a rating of First, centered around claims to cultural authenticity and representation in Hispanic Children’s Literature. She currently works in the publishing industry as a marketing manager. Her reviews do not reflect the opinions of her employer.

Book Reviews: ¡Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market by Raúl the Third and Babymoon by Hayley Barrett, illus by Juana Martinez-Neal


Review by Dora M. Guzmán

DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK: Richard Scarry’s Busytown gets a Mexican-American makeover in the marketplace of a buzzing border town from Pura Belpré Medal-winning illustrator Raúl the Third.

Bilingual in a new way, this paper over board book teaches readers simple words in Spanish as they experience the bustling life of a border town. Follow Little Lobo and his dog Bernabe as they deliver supplies to a variety of vendors, selling everything from sweets to sombreros, portraits to piñatas, carved masks to comic books!

MY TWO CENTS: Where to begin?! Raúl the Third’s illustrations are unique and like no other. If you’ve read Lowriders in Space then you know what I am referring to. His attention to detail, and similar to a graphic novel format, adds another dimension of following Little Lobo to the market in a town in Mexico.

I learned so much about the daily ins-and-outs of this community through the text, but most of all, its illustrations. The number of illustrations and words reflect a life of the hustle and bustle of the town, while also showing the love of la comunidad. Overall, it’s a fun and rich graphic picture book addition to add to your library. I highly recommend this book as a read-aloud at school and home, and an interactive text to use for students to learn about communities and the different pieces and people that make it thrive!

TEACHING TIPS: Many of these teaching moments can be implemented in a grades K-5 setting.

  • Use as a writing mentor text
    • for describing a small moment in time (a day at the market, shopping with family) or
    • writing about what makes their community a community
    • How the placement and use of illustrations enhance an author’s writing and storytelling
  • Focus on cultural artifacts and items that represent their own culture or are similar to their culture


RaulThirdABOUT THE AUTHOR-ILLUSTRATOR: Raúl the Third was born in El Paso, Texas, and grew up going back and forth between El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. He is the Pura Belpré Award-winning illustrator of Lowriders to the Center of the Earth. Raúl lives in Boston, Massachusetts, with his wife, artist Elaine Bay, and son, Raúl the Fourth. Learn more about his work here!



Review by Dora M. Guzmán

DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK: In a perfect gift for new and expectant parents (and siblings), a gentle story pays tribute to the wonder and emotion of a family’s first quiet days with a newborn.

The house is hushed. The lights are low.
We’re basking in a newborn glow.

Inside the cozy house, a baby has arrived! The world is eager to meet the newcomer, but there will be time enough for that later. Right now, the family is on its babymoon: cocooning, connecting, learning, and muddling through each new concern. While the term “babymoon” is often used to refer to a parents’ getaway before the birth of a child, it was originally coined by midwives to describe days like these: at home with a newborn, with the world held at bay and the wonder of a new family constellation unfolding. Paired with warm and winsome illustrations by Juana Martinez-Neal, Hayley Barrett’s lyrical ode to these tender first days will resonate with new families everywhere.

MY TWO CENTS: A touching story to share with all about the blessing of a baby. The story begins from the outside where a sign is hanging on the door, “See you soon”. The ambiguous message leaves readers to wonder if they are expecting someone soon, if the family is out of town, or if it is a message for visitors. A great moment to stop and give readers an option to infer from the title and the message on the door. The next page reveals a full spread of a family surrounding their new family member–a newborn. Words are weaved in and out of this new world that consists of long embraces, collaborative games, and peaceful smiles.

Juana Martinez-Neal does it again! The way she utilizes her strokes and warm palette adds a softness to all the images that leave readers with a peaceful feeling–the feeling of home. Many readers describe this feeling of a “warm hug” as we journey with this family’s new life, and boy they are not wrong! The family’s pet is also part of this new life, as the reader notices facial expressions and adds a comical and realistic experience for all animal lovers who welcome new babies (we all know that “look”!).

Overall, this is an amazing addition to your school and home library that represents the love that is multiplied in the family. I highly recommend this book as gifts for families expecting babies and a read-aloud for students who are expecting new siblings!

TEACHING TIPS: Many of these teaching moments can be implemented in a grades K-5 setting, with a focus on the primary grades.

  • Teaching descriptive vocabulary words and phrases
  • Lesson on phonemic awareness such as focusing on rhyming words
  • Focus on the illustrator’s purpose of using certain colors or placement of illustrations to convey meaning and book themes
  • Great addition to any family unit in a reading curriculum
  • Mentor text for writing about family life, changes, or life moments.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hayley Barrett is the author of three upcoming picture books, Babymoon (Candlewick 2019), What Miss Mitchell Saw (S&S/Beach Lane, 2019), and Girl Vs. Squirrel  (Margaret Ferguson Books/Holiday House, 2020). She lives outside of Boston with her husband John. Their two terrific kids have flown the coop.



Photo of author-illustrator Juana Martinez-NealABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR: Juana Martinez-Neal is the recipient of the 2018 Pura Belpré Medal for Illustration for La Princesa and the Pea (Putnam/Penguin 2017). Alma and How She Got Her Name (Candlewick 2018), her debut picture book as author-illustrator, was awarded the 2019 Caldecott Honor.

She was named to the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Honor list in 2014, and was awarded the SCBWI Portfolio Showcase Grand Prize in 2012. She was born in Lima, the capital of Peru, and now lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her husband and three children.



img_0160ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Dora M. Guzmán is a bilingual reading specialist for grades K-5 and also teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Children’s Literature and Teaching Beginning Literacy. She is also a current doctoral student in NLU’s EDD Teaching and Learning Program with an emphasis on Reading, Language, and Literacy. When she is not sharing her love of reading with her students, you can find her in the nearest library, bookstore, or online, finding more great reads to add to her never-ending “to read” pile!


Mega Middle Grade Latinx Month Heritage Book Giveaway!


We are doing a series of giveaways to celebrate Latinx Heritage Month this year. Last week, we partnered with Disney Books for a Fire Keeper Giveaway. If you didn’t win, don’t worry, we have another copy of The Fire Keeper along with a stack of middle grade books we are giving away! See the list below. If you click on the image, you will be taken to the book’s Indiebound page for more information.

Lucky Luna, Tight, and My Year in the Middle are signed by the authors!!


   The Fire Keeper (A Storm Runner Novel, Book 2) Cover        



And because we love teachers and librarians, you will be entered x5 if you use an educator’s email (.edu or .org). Open to U.S. addresses only.

A winner will be selected on Friday, September 27.

You can enter once a day each day until the giveaway closes on Friday!