52Q Book of the Month
We Celebrate Reading!
From School Library Journal
Grade 1-3-Each year, a boy spends the summer with his grandmother in her apartment in Spanish Harlem. Grandma loves music, and her extensive record collection provides hours of pleasure. Selecting music to share with her and sketching art from album covers are frequent activities. One special summer, Grandma is given two tickets to a live concert by a nephew, a percussionist in a well-known Puerto Rican band. When the lead singer dedicates the last song to her, the child is surprised to see everyone singing "Grandma's special song" ("In My Old San Juan") with eyes closed and a hand placed over the heart. Later he understands that this act symbolizes "that their hearts remain in Puerto Rico even though they may be far away." Finally, he is pictured as an adult in his studio honoring his grandmother and her music through his art. Velasquez's touching yet simply told memoir of this tender relationship is lovingly captured in his illustrations. The old woman's dignity and spunk are etched in her face while her housecoat and slippers, framed photos from long ago, and console phonograph create a distinct sense of time and place. Add this to your study of memoir and be sure to read it aloud in celebration of grandparents and the children they love. You'll be glad you did.
Alicia Eames, New York City Public Schools