A song of frutas

Margarita Engle

Book - 2021

While visiting her abuelo in Cuba, a young girl helps him sell frutas, singing the name of each fruit as they walk, and after she returns to the United States, they exchange letters made of abrazos--hugs. Includes historical and cultural notes.

Saved in:

Bookmobile Children's Show me where

0 / 1 copies available

Children's Room Show me where

2 / 2 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
Bookmobile Children's jE/Engle Bookmobile Storage
Children's Room jE/Engle Checked In
Children's Room jE/Engle Checked In
Picture books
New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers [2021]
Main Author
Margarita Engle (author)
Other Authors
Sara Palacios (illustrator)
First edition
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Ages 4-8.
Grades 2-3.
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Engle's latest lyrical picture book portrays an enchanting tradition in Cuba, wherein produce vendors push their carts throughout the neighborhood, singing songs to lure customers to their wares. Readers join the young narrator in a colorful town with the liveliest street vendors, including her abuelo, who markets his produce with rhythm and joy in a beautiful singing voice. His songs ring through the streets, amplifying Cuba's vibrant culture, especially once he's joined by other vendors, such as el tamalero, la yerbera, el viandero, el manisero, and la dulcera, who all sell their wares with their own rhythmic songs, weaving soul through the working day. Palacios' beautiful artwork renders the city in rich, saturated colors with bustling crowds of people set against brightly hued buildings, and when the narrator goes back home to the U.S., the illustrations shift in tone, clearly signaling how much she misses her family in Cuba. Engle deftly weaves Spanglish through the conversational text, and bilingual readers will enjoy maneuvering between languages, maybe even singing along to the lyrical list of fruits in Abuelo's cart. Engle includes personal insights, background context, and music recommendations in an author's note that enhances the experience of this heartfelt read about Cuban culture and a love of far-flung family.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Engle (Your Heart, My Sky) tells the story of a brown-skinned girl who longs to return to Cuba. She's first seen walking through streets with her mustachioed abuelo, selling frutas, their names given in Spanish and then English. He is a pregonero, and his tuneful appeal ("his song as powerful as an opera star's glorious voice") vies for the attention of city dwellers amid those of other criers offering tamales, sweets, and roasted peanuts. Palacios (My Day with the Panye) gives a visual richness to the spreads, portraying streets teeming with people of various skin tones talking, dancing, and buying. Bright sunshine casts cool blue shadows in doorways and arcades. But it becomes clear that the granddaughter is not with her abuelo now: instead, she is in the United States, finding consolation in letters that wing their way between them: "we can sing rhymes/ back and forth, verses on paper." Engle's mix of Spanish and English flows easily off the pages, and the creators' story gives rise to conversations about Abuelo's work, his community, and how people separated stay close. Back matter offers information about travel restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba alongside other context. Ages 4--8. Author's agent: Michelle Humphrey, Martha Kaplan Agency. Illustrator's agent: Kendra Marcus, BookStop Literary. (Aug.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3--A young girl visits her abuelo in Cuba and accompanies him as he sells delicious frutas, calling out in song and inviting everyone they pass to come and have a look. Many pregoneros, singing vendors, call out in song together, their voices mixing and creating a beautiful melody that travels through the streets, carrying with it requests for candies, yams, tamales, and more. When the new year arrives, the young narrator loves to help Abuelo sell the grapes that people will use to make one wish for every month of the new year. Although the trips come to an end, and it is difficult for the young narrator and her family to return home, she takes comfort in knowing that she and Abuelo can still exchange letters full of love. Bright, colorful spreads share the beauty and vibrancy of the streets of Cuba and the joy shared by the family. Delightful verses sprinkled with Spanish express the girl's love of family and home, as well as her longing for a time when seeing family will not be so difficult. An author's note discusses the use of Spanish in the text, travel restrictions between Cuba and the United States, the history of pregoneros, and the tradition of eating grapes on New Year's Eve. VERDICT A heartfelt story full of love for family and traditions, highly recommended for picture book collections for children.--Selenia Paz, Harris County P.L., Houston

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

"Mango, limon, coco, melon," goes the rhythmic call of Abuelo el frutero. A smiling, curly-haired girl on a visit to her abuelo in Cuba describes walking with him on his route as he joins in on the memorable melodies of the pregoneros, street vendors who announce their goods through song. Engle's text is rich in sensory details: la yerbera sells "fragrant herbs"; the candy seller "croons so sweetly." The placement of the text itself adds visual interest, cascading down the page to mimic the lowering of a basket from a balcony, or shaped like the paper cones ("cucuruchos") sold by a dancing vendor. A vivid, light blue sky serves as backdrop for the bustling town, where buyers and sellers argue about prices but still bear cheerful expressions. Palacios's (Between Us and Abuela, rev. 11/19) digital illustrations are characterized by soft lines and warm colors that augment the positive mood throughout. That joyful tone is juxtaposed with the story's coda, as the granddaughter reveals her wish for an end to the travel restrictions that prevent Abuelo from visiting her at home in the States. Engle elaborates on this topic in an author's note, in which she also highlights the fascinating history of pregoneros. Fond reminiscences and a nuanced cultural depiction make for another warm ode to Engle's (Drum Dream Girl, rev. 5/15; All the Way to Havana, rev. 9/17; and many others) beloved isla. Concurrently published in Spanish as Un pregon de frutas. Jessica Agudelo September/October 2021 p.63(c) Copyright 2021. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A young Cuban American child visits Abuelo in Cuba and helps him sell fruit in the street. As Abuelo pushes a cart laden with fruit, they sing out the names of the fruit in the cart: "mango, limón, coco, melón, / naranja, toronja, plátano, piña." Their happy voices reach far, inviting people to come and purchase. Other street vendors join in, singing out their own wares. The louder they call out, the louder Abuelo must sing. Palacios' vibrant illustrations beautifully capture the joy and liveliness of the event. The child tells readers, "my favorite visits…are on the eve of el año nuevo" when people buy 12 grapes and make a wish, one for each month of the new year. This child's wish, reflecting the author's own leitmotif, is for friendship between the two countries and a time when families on both sides of the narrow strip of ocean that separates them can freely visit. In the author's note, Engle gives some details on the travel restrictions that keep families apart as well as explaining her choice to use Spanglish in the text. Readers also learn a little more about Cuban street vendors--pregoneros--and the tradition of having grapes on New Year's Eve. The main character has exuberant wavy black hair and brown skin like Abuelo's; other characters reflect Cuba's racial diversity. The story publishes simultaneously in Spanish, with a translation by Alexis Romay. (This book was reviewed digitally.) A joyful celebration of Cuban tradition and family ties. (Picture book. 4-6) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.