A Song of Frutas

Margarita Engle, illus. by Sara Palacios. Atheneum, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5344-4489-8
Engle (Your Heart, My Sky) tells the story of a brown-skinned girl who longs to return to Cuba. She’s first seen walking through streets with her mustachioed abuelo, selling frutas, their names given in Spanish and then English. He is a pregonero, and his tuneful appeal (“his song as powerful as an opera star’s glorious voice”) vies for the attention of city dwellers amid those of other criers offering tamales, sweets, and roasted peanuts. Palacios (My Day with the Panye) gives a visual richness to the spreads, portraying streets teeming with people of various skin tones talking, dancing, and buying. Bright sunshine casts cool blue shadows in doorways and arcades. But it becomes clear that the granddaughter is not with her abuelo now: instead, she is in the United States, finding consolation in letters that wing their way between them: “we can sing rhymes/ back and forth, verses on paper.” Engle’s mix of Spanish and English flows easily off the pages, and the creators’ story gives rise to conversations about Abuelo’s work, his community, and how people separated stay close. Back matter offers information about travel restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba alongside other context. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Michelle Humphrey, Martha Kaplan Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Kendra Marcus, BookStop Literary. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 06/10/2021
Release date: 08/03/2021
Genre: Children's
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