El Cucuy Is Scared, Too!
Donna Barba Higuera, illus. by Juliana Perdomo. Abrams, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4197-4445-7
Ramón, a dark-haired, light brown–skinned child, has just moved to New York with his family in this tender picture book debut. Feeling homesick and apprehensive, he can’t sleep; soon, El Cucuy, a cape-clad gray creature with sharp teeth (“also known as the Mexican Boogeyman,” according to an author’s note), reveals that he can’t, as well. The duo exchange their concerns: Ramón worries about making new friends at a new school, while El Cucuy—who lives in Ramón’s cactus pot—worries about a lack of small, dark spaces in which to hide and whether people will know to fear him. As Ramón comforts and reassures El Cucuy, he soon finds strength to face his own fears. Higuera gracefully interweaves Spanish and English, while Perdomo’s subtly textured digital illustrations feature vibrant colors and geometrically stylized scenes. A delightful infusion of folklore makes this new-school narrative stand out. Back matter includes author’s and illustrator’s notes. Ages 4–8. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/24/2021