I was privileged to view spreads from today’s Perfect Picture Book at the Highlights Foundation earlier this week, as the Foundation is featuring them in a Visual Artist Exhibition this year. When I saw the artwork in the Barn, the main gathering spot, I just had to purchase and review this uplifting book.
Title: Sing, Don’t Cry
Written & Illustrated By: Angela Dominguez
Publisher/Date: Henry Holt and Company/2017
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: intergenerational, family, Latinx, music
Once a year, my abuelo would come from Mexico to stay with us.
Based on visits with the author/illustrator’s own Mexican grandfather, this story explores the loving relationship between the narrator, a young child, and her or his musical abuelo.
Links to Resources:
- Ask family members to share favorite songs, and enjoy a sing-a-long;
- Learn about and listen to some mariachi music.
Why I Like this Book:
Sing, Don’t Cry is a book filled with music, optimism, and love. It’s clear from the smiling faces on the first spread, that the two children, a young brother and sister, love their grandfather and have looked forward to his visit. Dominguez includes examples of things going wrong that are very kid-relatable: moving, a lost toy, unkind school mates, and an injury that precludes participating in a sport. But their abuelo reminds them that singing can help them overcome sadness, and that things will get better. I love this positive attitude, and I especially appreciate the loving intergenerational relationship portrayed.
The smiling faces throughout the book made me smile as I read it. I also noticed that the colors in the sad scenes were muted, to make a clear distinction between the times when bad or sad things happened, and the happy, hopeful reminder that singing will make things better.
A Note about Craft:
From the jacket flap and in an Author’s Note, readers learn that this story is based on Dominguez’ own abuelo, Apolinar Navarrete Diaz, a Mexican musician who performed on the radio in the 1940s. I think by basing the character on a real person that she knows, Dominguez is better able to bring him to life. Dominguez also shares that the title and story are inspired by the refrain in a popular Mexican song, an aspect of the story that celebrates Mexican culture.
Sing, Don’t Cry features two unnamed siblings. Dominguez uses first person point-of-view, but it’s never clear whether the narrator is the young girl or boy. I think this broadens the market for this picture book, as it will appeal to boys and girls equally.
Visit Dominguez’ website to see more of her books.
This Perfect Picture Book entry will be added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!