Based in the state of Texas, Arte Público Press has long contributed to making books written by Hispanic and Latinx authors, including Puerto Rican writers, much more available to the reading and purchasing public. Their children’s books are often published in bilingual editions, lending a linguistic authenticity to their books focusing on U.S. Hispanic culture. Today I want to introduce you to a book by Boricua author Samuel Caraballo, who has had several titles published by Arte Público Press.
Mis abuelos y yo/My Grandparents and I is a tender picture book in verse about a boy’s deep relationship with his abuelos, or grandparents. His grandparents are “his universe,” he says. His days spent with them are beautiful, filled with affection and time spent together. They bake delicious things in the kitchen on weekends, and take day trips to visit Puerto Rican landmarks such as El Morro. They visit the beach, and fly kites on windy days. The poem’s verses in fact cover the four seasons, finishing the year at Christmas when the entire family- the protagonist, his grandparents, and his parents – celebrate together
The book is noticeably set on the island, with distinctly Puerto Rican touches in the illustrations throughout. There is a coquí on the book’s title page, and the protagonist and his grandparents are getting piraguas from a cart on the dedication page. The living room in which the extended family is celebrating Christmas is characteristic of many homes on the island, with a spacious tiled floor.
The book prioritizes the Spanish language, as illustrated by its title and the placement of the Spanish stanzas of the book’s verses first, followed by the English. The full text of the poem is printed, in Spanish and English, on the last pages.
This would be a lovely book to give to grandparents on behalf of a child. It is appropriate for children preschool and up, and the rhyming text makes it appealing to read aloud. It’s not an actual narrative, however, which may not engage children with shorter attention spans. But many children can readily identify with the love a well-cared for child has for their grandparents.
Mis abuelos y yo/My Grandparents and I
Written by Samuel Caraballo; Illustrated by D. Nina Cruz
English Translation by Ethriam Cash Brammer
2004, Piñata Books, an imprint of Arte Público Press
Klem-Marí Cajigas has been with Nashville Public Library since 2012, after more than a decade of academic training in Religious Studies and Ministry. As the Family Literacy Coordinator for Bringing Books to Life!, Nashville Public Library’s award-winning early literacy outreach program, she delivers family literacy workshops to a diverse range of local communities. Born in Puerto Rico, Klem-Marí is bilingual, bicultural, and proudly Boricua.