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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Juana & Lucas, written and illustrated by Juana Medina. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2016. $21.00 ages 7 and up

"When I get home from school, Mami asks about my day. I quickly tell her it was horrible. No, I tell her it was actually worse than horrible: my lunch box broke, my yogurt exploded, we lost our futbol game. It was hot, everyone was stinky, my collar itched, and, worst of all, Mr. Tompkins said that we have to learn the English. Truly, a day doesn't get worse than that."

Juana is an appealing and happy narrator. She lives in Bogota. Colombia and isn't afraid to share her opinions about life and living. There are numerous things to be loved and appreciated: her city, her family, reading, drawing, some foods, Astroman, and Lucas. He is her dog, and her best friend in the world.

She also has some dislikes. Most have to do with school. She doesn't like the uniform she is forced to wear, the schoolwork required of her, and she complains endlessly about learning 'the English'. It is a most difficult language! She is encouraged to work hard, and then 'bribed' to work even harder so that she might go with her grandparents when they take a trip the United States. It will be her only chance to meet Astroman!

The pages are filled with entertaining and telling artwork that will attract and engage children. Humorous and informative, with many Spanish words throughout, it has real appeal for any child wanting to know more about a new language, an unfamiliar setting, a feisty, independent female character. The charming full color cartoon artwork, the profiles of family members, and ever changing font are sure to capture and hold attention.

It is the first book in a promised series. So, get to know Juana and then wait to learn more about her in the second book.

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