Title: Arturo and the Navidad Birds
Written by: Anne Broyles
Illustrated by: KE Lewis
Pelican Publishing Company, Inc. 2013, Fiction
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: honesty, accepting responsibility, courage, compassion, forgiveness, cultural awareness
Brief Synopsis: Arturo helps his grandmother Abue Rosa decorate her Navidad tree. She explains the origin of each ornament from her childhood, and those she received as gifts from friends. Arturo breaks one of her treasured ornaments when Abue Rosa is not in the room. And after she returns and asks if he’s seen the ornament, he hides it from her. Arturo then tries but fails to repair the ornament. But then he is remorseful and tells his grandmother what happened. Abue Rosa is forgiving and takes what Arturo made from the broken ornament and adds it to her Navidad tree and comforts him by saying to Arturo, “People are more important than things. mi’jo.”
Opening pages: “Arturo bounced up and down in front of the pine tree. “Hurry, Abue!”
His grandmother called from the kitchen, “Momentito, mi’jo.”
Arturo saltaba una y otra ves frente al árbol de pino. “Date prisa, Abue!”
Su abuela lo llamaba desde la cocina, “Momentito, mi’jo.”
Arturo frowned at the sting of unlit lights. “Our Navidad tree looks empty.”
Abue Rosa wiped her hands on her apron as she bustled into the living room. “It will soon be full.”
Arturo fruncíó el ceño al mirar las luces de Navidad sin encender. “Nuestro árbol de Navidad se ve vacío.”
Abue Rosa secó sus manos en el delantal mientras caminaba dentro de la sala. “Pronto estará lleno.”
Why I like this book: This is a heartwarming story of the relationship between a boy and his grandmother. The themes are universal. The boy, Arturo makes a mistake, is not honest in the beginning, and tries a resolution that fails. His grandmother is forgiving and shows Arturo her love by explaining that people are more important than things.
This book is an example of what the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign running this May 1-3, 2014 is all about. The front cover and title tell us the book is representative of one of the underrepresented groups in the world of children’s literature because the illustrations include a child and adult who have toffee colored skin. All people can be described by color; but this book is written about people with skin of a particular color who are part of a particular culture. In addition, Arturo and the Navidad Birds is a story any child or adult, regardless of the color of their skin, will enjoy. And for an extra bonus, the reader may learn some Spanish words since the book is published in both English and Spanish. Kudos to the author and illustrator. Well done, Pelican Publishing.
Resources: Free teacher study guide on the author’s site.