cover image All the Way to Havana

All the Way to Havana

Margarita Engle, illus. by Mike Curato. Holt/Godwin, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-62779-642-2

The pre-1959 American car, held together, as Engle (Lion Island) so evocatively writes, with “wire, tape, and mixed-up scraps of dented metal,” has become a visual trademark of Cuba and testimony to its citizens’ resilience and ingenuity. One of these cars, a bright blue Chevy Delray christened Cara Cara (because her aging, patchwork engine makes sounds “like a busy chicken—cara cara, cara cara, cluck, cluck, cluck”) is the star of this contemporary story, taking the young narrator and his family from their rural home to a celebration with relatives in Havana. The masterly sense of place, color, and shape that make Curato’s Little Elliot stories so touching proves perfect for a landscape that’s larger than life. He and Engle chronicle Cara Cara’s journey in loving detail as the family moves along the coast and into bustling city streets, giving readers glimpses into daily Cuban lives—newlyweds in a Dodge convertible, laundry hanging from balconies as “a sea breeze sings.” It’s a wonderful introduction to America’s very nearby neighbor. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Michelle Humphrey, Martha Kaplan Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Aug.) [/em]