From School Library Journal
K-Gr 3–This companion to Grandma's Records (Walker, 2001) is another memoir of Velasquez's boyhood visits with his grandmother in Spanish Harlem. This time it is Christmas. After helping to shop for ingredients and make her famous pasteles, Eric and his grandmother venture from El Barrio to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The boy has a school assignment to complete and together they discover the work of Diego Velázquez, including the famous portrait of Juan de Pareja. The woman nurtures the boy's fascination with painting by giving him art supplies for Christmas. This beautifully illustrated slice-of-life is sprinkled with Spanish phrases (all translated into English) and rich details about Puerto Rican traditions and culture. Velasquez's full-bleed paintings transport readers to another time and place and expertly capture the characters' personalities and emotions. A gift, indeed.Virginia Walter, UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies
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In this prequel to Grandma’s Records (2001), Eric spends his winter break with his Puerto Rican grandmother in her apartment in New York City’s El Barrio. Together, they shop, cook traditional dishes such as pasteles, and complete Eric’s homework assignment: to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and view Diego Velázquez’s masterpiece Juan de Pareja. The pleasing, realistic oil paintings include a well-done replica of the famous painting. Those who appreciated the personal connections between grandmother and grandson in the earlier book will again be satisfied with this story, which incorporates Spanish phrases in the long, descriptive text. Grades 1-3. --Andrew Medlar