Mama and Papa Have a Store

Amelia Lau Carling, Author, Amelia Lau, Author Dial Books $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8037-2044-2
Drawing on her memories of growing up in Guatemala as the daughter of Chinese immigrants, debut author/artist Carling sunnily evokes a companionable mingling of cultures. Her parents, whose Chinese names mean Lady Who Lives in the Moon and Fragrant Pond, are dona Graciela and don Rodolfo to the customers who frequent their general store. Going past the paper lanterns and firecrackers on display, a weaver pores over ""rows and rows of colored strands [of thread] arranged like schools of fish in glassy water,"" and chooses ""volcano purple, maize yellow, hot pepper red."" Lunch in their home behind the store is cooked in a wok and served with tortillas. Tropical foliage and a pila (pool) for the goldfish adorn the spacious patio; on la terraza, the kids play with a miniature landscape of a Chinese mountain with little pagodas and moon bridges. Carling's festively patterned, serene watercolors show the narrator happily being a kid: dangling a string for the cat, buying candy, floating paper boats in the gutter. In a scene that marvelously captures the book's fusion of familiar and exotic elements, the kids sled on pieces of cardboard down a waxed tin roof, a mountain in the distance and colorful laundry and flowers in the foreground. Kids may enjoy trying to separate out the threads of Mayan, Spanish and Chinese cultures, but all come together seamlessly in this snippet of an idyllic childhood. Ages 4-8. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
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