Today I read the 2011 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award Winner to my own two children who are in first and second grade. They seemed to love it and my son even made a text-to-text connection to Too Many Tamales (awwwwwww!).
Title: Grandma's Gift
Year Published: 2010
Author/Illustrator: Eric Velasquez
You May Know Him: as the author/illustrator of Grandma's Records and illustrator of I, Matthew Henson
You May Find Him: at his blog
Review You May Not Have Seen:
I had recently purchased Grandma's Gift for my own school library's collection, but I had not realized that it was a Pura Belpré winner. I also had not read it (blush, blush).
This book may have won an award for its rich, realistic illustrations, but to me the story was just as compelling. This is a wonderful book that both teachers and librarians can use in many ways. Pair with "Too Many Tamales" to discuss holiday traditions. Read along-side "The Story-Teller's Candle" to talk about Puerto Rican Christmas traditions, both past and present. Use it to discuss the concept of "gifts". What was Grandma's gift? You could also use this book to study community or illustrate the differences between city life and country life. The list really does go on.
This book is one that I will be reading to my students year after year.
Now to find that copy of Grandma's Records...
15 Second Book Talk in the Stacks (These are when I'm in the book stacks with my students and they hold out a book to me and say, "Have you read this one, Mrs. Blaine?". I have about 15 seconds.):
"This is one of my new favorite books that recently won an award for best illustrations. It's about a boy who spends Christmas break with his grandmother. First he helps her make a yummy traditional Puerto Rican recipe and then they go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City where they see a self-portrait of an important artist. Can you guess what artist that might be? Do you think you can guess what language he and his grandmother share? Have you spent any special times with your grandmother or grandfather? If you have, you'll love this book as much as I do."
From the the award-winning illustrations to the story itself, Grandma's Gift gets five out of five Dog Ears from me!
Thank you My Own School Library for providing me with this copy of Grandma's Gift.