cover image Maribel’s Year

Maribel’s Year

Michelle Sterling, illus. by Sarah Gonzales. HarperCollins/Tegen, $19.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-0631-1435-7

Through a wistful seasonal kaleidoscope that details nearly a year of separation, a young narrating protagonist shares with Papa, who remains in the Philippines, moments of life after their emigration. In January (“First steps,/ first snow./ New country,/ new home”), Maribel and Mama navigate an isolated, cool-hued snowy landscape; a page later, a juxtaposing image shows their homeland portrayed in a warm palette, and “friends and family dropping in for merienda and chats in our courtyard.” February sees Maribel struggling with English in an intersectionally inclusive classroom, making a friend, and sending a valentine “on an eight-thousand-mile journey to Papa in Makati.” April’s “drops of sun on my face” nourish Maribel’s optimism as the family celebrates Papa’s birthday by making his favorite dish and imagining him by their side. Tastes of dried mango and tamarind appear in a package with a letter promising Papa’s arrival before long, and the arrival of Christmas signifies the family’s sweet reunion. Digitally colored pencil on paper art from Gonzales portrays in painterly textures and lush borders the family’s varied experiences, while Sterling supplies tender exchanges and memories. The result is a richly laid seasonal feast that melds languages and traditions. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Andrea Morrison, Writers House. Illustrator’s agent: Alexandra Levick, Writers House. (May)