cover image Mariana and Her Familia

Mariana and Her Familia

Mónica Mancillas, illus. by Erika Meza. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-062-96246-1

A child’s uncertainty in navigating the dual identities of a bicultural upbringing is affirmingly depicted in Mancillas’s insightful debut. Though Mami has told young Mariana that Abuelita’s house “was your first home,” the child’s anxiety only increases as mother and daughter drive across the frontera from the U.S. to Mexico. And despite Abuelita’s “warm welcome hug and a cheekful of grandma kisses,” Mariana is shy around her family, 15 relatives she’s seen in photos but who still feel like “brand-new people.” Understanding only a few Spanish words, she longs to play with her cousins, “but she was too afraid to join in.” Mancillas’s assured narrative, which rings with compassion, smatters Spanish words throughout English lines; in Meza’s watercolor pencil and gouache illustrations, Mariana swells with love that gives way to bright-eyed affection for a new place and new people. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)