I received a copy of this today’s featured picture book in a giveaway from Children’s Books Heal. Lucky me! Patricia featured it for Multicultural Children’s Book Day this past January – I hope you agree that this is a Perfect Picture Book to celebrate multiculturalism and the bonds that unite us.
Title: A Gift for Abuela
Written & Illustrated By: Cecilia Ruiz
Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press/2018
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: intergenerational, multicultural, Mexico, economic hardship
Abuela would never forget the day Niña was born. It was an unusual day in Mexico City. On this day, the sky was clear and the streets were still.
Brief Synopsis: A heartwarming story of the love shared between a young girl, Niña, and her grandmother, Abuela.
Links to Resources:
- Niña and her Abuela enjoy eating sweet bread, pan dulce, together. Learn the history of this traditional Mexican treat, with roots in Spanish and French baking, and try making it;
- What do you and your grandmother or grandfather enjoy doing together? Describe or draw a picture of you and a grandparent or other favorite relative or family friend;
- Abuela and Niña cut beautiful papel picado banners together. Learn how to make these festive, tissue-paper banners.
Why I Like this Book:
A Gift for Abuela is a quiet, lyrical story of the bond between a grandmother and her granddaughter. I love how that connection grows from Niña’s birth as the pair share simple pleasures, “silly songs”, “spinning around” until dizzy, making “papel picado banners”, and sitting together in the park every Sunday, eating pan dulce and people watching. But even as their bond deepened, “life got harder in Mexico” due to economic troubles, Abuela worked more and was “always tired”, and time spent with school friends meant that Niña visited Abuela less often. Sadly, the pesos that Abuela had saved for a special gift for Niña became worthless, too.
Then one day, Niña visited and found the house looking “sad and dusty”. She determined to clean up and in doing so found the worthless bills that could no longer purchase a special present. I won’t spoil the ending, so you’ll have to read to discover the true gift that Abuela shared with her granddaughter.
Ruiz’ detailed pastel, block-printed illustrations are so expressive and clearly show the love between grandparent and grandchild that helps them overcome adversity.
A Note about Craft:
As mentioned above, the pesos Abuela was saving for a special gift for Niña became worthless. So why did Ruiz (or her editor) entitle this picture book A Gift from Abuela? Dealing as it does with reversals in life, I think they did so to encourage children to think about what really is important in life – is it the newest gadget or toy? Or is it, perhaps, the time we spend making happy memories with loved ones? I also think this additional theme of economic uncertainty will help children empathize with classmates or friends who experience poverty or even gain comfort if they experience it, too.
Inside the book jacket, readers learn that Ruiz is sharing “a deeply personal story”. The emotional ties evident in A Gift from Abuela show that she, too, has experienced a special gift from her own Mexican abuela.
Visit Ruiz’ website to see more of her work.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!