English & Spanish
Margarita Engle & Sara Palacios
For the first day of Hispanic & Latinx Heritage Month, I wanted to share a book that’s fun. In A Song of Frutas, a young girl loves to visit her abuelo because it means she can help him at his fruit vending cart. The pair walks through the streets, singing and hawking their delicious wares with the other pregoneros. The family can’t visit each other too often because of travel restrictions with Cuba, but the best time of year to visit is the New Year (according to our narrator).
Spanish is sprinkled throughout the story as the reader watches the route the boisterous pair takes, making sure to have extra grapes around New Year’s Eve because of the tradition of each person to eat a dozen at midnight! The illustrations are bright and cheerful, conveying the joy that our narrator feels about being able to spend whole days with her abuelo.
The second half of the story conveys her sadness at not being able to spend the entire year with him, but she seeks solace in being able to mail letters to each other. In the back is additional information about the topic that were lightly touched on throughout the book, such as the travel restrictions and street vendors. Engle has taken her own personal experiences and created a beautiful story that many Cuban-Americans can have as a mirror of their own lived experiences.
This book was kindly sent by Simon & Schuster, but all opinions are my own!
Margarita Engle is the Cuban-American author of many verse novels, memoirs, and picture books, including The Surrender Tree, Enchanted Air, Drum Dream Girl, and Dancing Hands. Awards include a Newbery Honor, Pura Belpré, Golden Kite, Walter, Jane Addams, and NSK Neustadt , among others. Margarita served as the 2017-2019 Young People’s Poet Laureate. Her most recent books include Your Heart, My Sky and A Song of Frutas. Light for All and Rima’s Rebellion are forthcoming.
Margarita was born in Los Angeles, but developed a deep attachment to her mother’s homeland during childhood summers with relatives on the island. She studied agronomy and botany along with creative writing, and now lives in central California with her husband.
Sara Palacios is the recipient of a Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor for Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match and the illustrator of several other picture books, including The Flying Girl. Sara graduated with a degree in graphic design and went on to earn BFA and MFA degrees in illustration from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. A native of Mexico, Sara now lives in San Francisco.