The Poet Upstairs
By Judith Cofer. Illustrated by Oscar Ortiz
A young girl learns about the power of poetry in this
heart-warming tribute to an unnamed poet
Juliana listens to the poet’s typewriter clicking and clacking all day long, while outside the snow falls and people rush by bundled up in their coats. She dreams of a tiny tropical island “sitting on the ocean like a green button on a blue dress,” the island home that her mother and the poet share. She dreams of red hibiscus flowers and beaches of white sand.
The next day, she receives an invitation from the poet to come upstairs. Together, they write a poem about a big river that leads to the sea. As they make pictures with words, the walls of the cold apartment become a beautiful vista of mountains, palm trees, birds and flowers. That special day, poetry takes Juliana from her cold and ordinary apartment to a sparkling island habitat.
Invoking Puerto Rican poet Julia de Burgos’ famous poem about the Loiza River, Ortiz Cofer’s lyrical text is combined with Oscar Ortiz’s breathtaking illustrations of the natural world and the animals that inhabit it. This inspiring picture book for children ages 5 to 9 demonstrates the power of the written word as Juliana learns that poetry can change the world.
Level Up / Paso de nivel
By Gwendolyn Zepeda. Illustrated by Pablo Torrecilla.
This entertaining bilingual picture book
will encourage kids to go outside and play
“Today I’m trying to skateboard. I have to learn to stand on the skateboard while it rolls, without falling off. It feels like I’m on Level One of a really hard game.” But if he can master staying on the board, his friend Michael will show him how to do turns, and “that’ll be like Level Two.” Soon, David is doing turns and is ready to learn how to do jumps!
Still unable to play video games, David lets his friend Bianca convince him to try playing basketball. Dribbling is hard, but David wants to level up so he’ll get a new red jersey. Pretty soon, he’s on Level 12 of skateboarding and Level 8 of basketball, and he’s ready to try diving and dirt biking. Eventually his video game is fixed, but by then he has discovered that leveling up in real life is more exciting than leveling up on the screen.
Popular kids’ book author Gwendolyn Zepeda teams up again with artist and illustrator Pablo Torrecilla to create a lively story that will have young readers laughing in commiseration with a kid consumed by imaginary goals. Following up on their acclaimed I Kick the Ball / Pateo el balón, this talented pair has once again crafted an appealing bilingual picture book that will encourage kids ages 5 to 9 to get off the couch and get moving.
My Big Sister / Mi hermana mayor
By Samuel Caraballo. Illustrated by Thelma Muraida.
A young boy's loving, poetic ode to his older sister
Anita wakes him up and makes his breakfast, “Yummy! Yum! / Hot, creamy oatmeal / topped with blueberries and raisins.” She holds his hand while walking him to the bus stop, and when the bus arrives, “I wrap my arms around her. / She tattoos a red kiss on my cheek.” Anita is there to greet him when the yellow school bus drops him off in the afternoon, and she helps him with his homework, “just like Mom and Dad.”
When Pablito’s homework is done, they go outside and play soccer. Then it’s time for dinner, a shower and a book in bed. And finally, their parents are home. “They praise my sister / because she is that big sister any brother would wish for!” And affectionate Pablito is surely the younger brother all kids want.
Caraballo’s sweet lyrical ode to an older sibling, warmly depicted by illustrator Thelma Muraida, will resonate with young children ages 3 to 7 who rely on brothers and sisters to help with meals, homework and fun!