Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New Picture Books from Piñata Books

Clara and the Curandera / Clara y la curandera 

By Monica Brown. Illustrated by Thelma Muraida 

"Once there was a little girl named Clara, who was grumpy." She was grumpy about having to take out the trash, having to share her toys with her seven brothers and sisters, and having to read one book a week for school.

And Mami is tired of Clara's grumpy face, so she sends her daughter to the curandera--or healer--to ask for help. The curandera gives Clara a list of things to do in the coming week: take out her own trash and the neighbors' as well; give all of her favorite toys to her brothers and sisters; and read five books instead of one! 

It's a difficult, busy week for Clara. But, her neighbors are grateful for her help, and give her hugs. Her siblings are so happy that they are extra nice to her and invite her to play with them. She has fun jumping rope, playing checkers and soccer. Her mother takes her to the library to check out books and she reads lots of interesting things. When the week is over, Clara realizes that she has not had time to feel grumpy. Could it be that helping others makes her feel . . . happy?

In this winning bilingual picture book written by award-winning author Monica Brown and vividly illustrated by Thelma Muraida, children ages 4-8 will cheer for Clara as she learns to focus on others rather than herself.

MONICA BROWN is the author of numerous award-winning books for children, including Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People (Henry Holt & Co., 2011), Side by Side: The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez / Lado a lado: La historia de Dolores Huerta y César Chávez (Rayo/HarperCollins, 2010), Butterflies on Carmen Street / Mariposas en la calle Carmen (Piñata Books, 2007), and My Name Is Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz / Me llamo Celia: La vida de Celia Cruz (Luna Rising, 2004), winner of the Américas Award for Children's Literature and named a Pura Belpré Honor Book. When she is not writing, she teaches Latino/a literature at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. 

THELMA MURAIDA, an accomplished designer and artist, lives in San Antonio, Texas. This is her first picture book.

Adelita and the Veggie Cousins / Adelita y las primas verduritas

By Diane Gonzales Bertrand. Illustrated by Christina Rodriguez.

It was Adelita's first day at a new school, and she didn't know anyone! As Miss Cantú started a lesson on vegetables, cries of "I hate vegetables" filled the classroom. She watched the kids as they gathered around the teacher's desk to select a vegetable of their own from the basket. Two boys tossed a brown vegetable like a football!

But it's the friendly girl in the red T-shirt who introduces herself as Jasmine that interests Adelita most. She offers Adelita her choice of the green or yellow vegetable, observing "these two veggies must be cousins" because they look alike. When Jasmine wonders what they're called, Adelita says her grandmother calls them calabacitas. Ms. Cantú overhears the girls and confirms that the squash are related. And to Adelita's surprise, her teacher also calls squash calabacitas!

Children--and some parents too--will look at vegetables in a whole new way after reading this charming story about making new friends. Award-winning author Diane Gonzales Bertrand once again pairs with illustrator Christina Rodriguez to create a book that will resonate with children ages 4-8 as they build skills and confidence in school and social situations.

DIANE GONZALES BERTRAND is the author of numerous books for children and young adults. Her picture books for children include The Party for Papá Luis / La fiesta para Papá Luis (Piñata Books, 2010), We Are Cousins / Somos primos (Piñata Books, 2007) and The Empanadas that Abuela Made / Las empanadas que hacía la abuela (Piñata Books, 2003). A native of San Antonio, Texas, she teaches writing at St. Mary's University where she is Writer in Residence. 

CHRISTINA RODRIGUEZ is the illustrator of several picture books for children, including We Are Cousins / Somos primos (Piñata Books, 2007), Mayte and the Bogeyman / Mayte y el Cuco (Piñata Books, 2006) and Un día con mis tías / A Day with My Aunts (Piñata Books, 2006). She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2003 with a BFA in illustration. A freelance illustrator, she lives and works in Minnesota.

¡A Bailar!/ Let's Dance! 

By Judith Ortiz Cofer. Illustrated by Christina Ann Rodriguez.

"A bailar! There's music in the park today--let's dance!" Marita and her mother are finishing their Saturday chores and anticipating Papi's salsa concert in the park that night, so Mami makes the broom her dance partner to show her daughter how to dance to the music. "Listen to the claves, the bongos, and the cowbells. Listen to the maracas, the timbales, and the giro, they will tell you how to move your shoulders, your hips, your feet." They dance faster and faster, so fast that they fall down on the floor laughing.

That afternoon, they put on their best dresses and dancing shoes, and old Don José says they look like "dos lindas flores." He follows them slowly, "his cane tapping out a salsa beat on the sidewalk." The music floats in and out of the barrio's alleys, calling listeners to move, move, move. Soon Marita and her mother are leading a parade of neighbors and friends dancing and singing their way to the concert. And at the park, Papi plays notes on his trombone that are a secret between him and Marita: te veo, te ve-o, te ve-o. I see you, I see you, I see you!

Judith Ortiz Cofer's lyrical text combining English and Spanish is complemented by Christina Ann Rodriguez's vibrant images of the neighborhood's unique characters--viejitos, fruit sellers, boys on skateboards and even babies--reveling in the beat of the music. Families will delight in reading together this warm, energetic look at one community's enjoyment of the sights and sounds of salsa music.

JUDITH ORTIZ COFER, the Regents' and Franklin Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Georgia, is an award-winning poet, novelist and prose writer whose work deals with her bilingual, bicultural experience as a Puerto Rican woman living on the Mainland. She is the author of numerous books, including Silent Dancing: A Partial Remembrance of a Puerto Rican Childhood (Piñata Books, 1991), included in The New York Public Library's Books For The Teen Age 1991 and recipient of a PEN citation, Martha Albrand Award for non-fiction, and a Pushcart Prize; and An Island Like You (Peter Smith Publisher Inc., 1999), recipient of the Pura Belpré Award and named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, and an ALA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. Other books for young adults include Call Me María (Orchard, 2004) and The Meaning of Consuelo (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003).

CHRISTINA ANN RODRIGUEZ obtained her BFA in illustration from the University of Hartford. Her work has been included in various publications, including Spider Magazine. She lives and works in Jackson, New Jersey.

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