Spanish is the Language of My Family (illustrated by John Parra)
Holiday House|Neal Porter Books
(release date July 11, 2023)
Simultaneous Releases in English and Spanish
SPANISH IS THE LANGUAGE OF MY FAMILY
To prepare for the school Spelling Bee en Español, a young Latine boy gets a much-needed boost from his cherished Abuela.
Manolo seems prepared for the bee, as there are many words he can already spell: “F-a-m-i-l-i-a.” “J-u-n-t-o-s.” “C-o-r-a-z-ó-n.” Still, the lista de palabras includes words that Manolo doesn’t know how to spell, so Abuela helps him. During their lessons together, she shares stories from her childhood, when the “rule at school was ‘English only.’ ” Speaking Spanish—even in secret on the playground—resulted in punishments for the students, including being sent home, paddled, or having their mouth washed out with soap. Spurred by Abuela’s stories of the recent hurtful past, Manolo throws himself into practice even when frustrations set in. “Tengo fuerza.” On the day of the spelling bee, Manolo stands tall on stage thanks to Abuela’s strength. A measured reckoning with an oft-overlooked period in U.S. history, Genhart and Parra’s poignant collaboration explores the echoes of generational trauma and the power of societal change and hope. An author’s note explains that Genhart drew from the 1930s through the 1960s, including his mother’s experiences in Southern California. The closeness between Manolo and Abuela adds a layer of warmth to this poignant tale, making this spelling bee journey an eventual resonant triumph. The splendid, textured acrylic-based artwork is rich and vibrant; an especially inspired spread sees a determined Manolo scaling the word practico. (This book was reviewed digitally.)Tenderly tremendous. (references, Spanish alphabet) (Picture book. 4-8)