Because his parents worked, Eric would be staying with his grandmother during the Christmas break. Grandma picked him up from school, and after dropping off his suitcase at her apartment, they headed to La Marqueta (the market) to buy ingredients for pasteles, a traditional Christmas dish in Puerto Rico. As soon as they got home, Grandma set to work making the pasteles, and sharing stories about her life growing up in Puerto Rico.
On Christmas Eve morning, Grandma took Eric to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, so he could complete a school assignment. Grandma had not traveled outside El Barrio, where she was most comfortable. Because she didn't speak English, Eric had to translate everything for her. When Grandma spotted a painting of Juan de Pareja, Eric ran over to read the caption. How did his grandmother know about this man who had been a slave and later became a great artist?
The story and artwork in Grandma's Gift are amazing and beautiful. Young readers will likely see the "gift" as the sketchpad and colored pencils that Eric talks about at the end. When you read the Author's Note, you realize that the real gift is their relationship and the experiences they shared together: cooking together, sharing family and personal history, visiting cultural sites.
Young readers with family members who speak a language other than English will instantly relate to Eric's story, and his feeling of "going to school for two" in having to translate for a relative. EVERYONE can see themselves in this story and its celebration of the moments and traditions that make families and family time together priceless and memorable.
This is a picture book wrapped in love and inspiration. Although it is set at Christmas, this story is perfect for ANY time of year. The love between Eric and his abuela is palpable and all readers (even those who don't live in a city) will feel the warmth and depth of their relationship.
This is an autobiography that blends a life-changing event with holiday traditions and time with family.
This is the author's personal story, and he offers many layers that can engage young readers in thinking about their own family and its traditions.
- family history, relationships, and connections
- cultural history and traditions, both food and music
- holiday traditions
Encourage them to talk with grandparents and other family members not just to learn more about their own history and where their traditions came from, but also about what inspired them to choose their life's work, hobbies, or passion.
10 and Up
6 and Up
Buy. For yourself, for your children's grandparents. There is something for everyone in this story of family, tradition, and love.