From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 1–Not so much bilingual as Spanglish, My Little Car
is nevertheless an enjoyable foray into Mexican-American culture. The text is primarily in English, with Spanish words sprinkled throughout. The glossary at the beginning of the book features the 16 Spanish words or phrases used in the story. Teresa thinks she is too old for her tricycle and is delighted when her grandfather sends her a low-rider pedal car for her birthday. She shows it off all over her community but eventually becomes careless, leaving it out in the rain and in the driveway, where her father backs into it. When her grandfather comes to visit, he is appalled at the sorry state of the vehicle and encourages Teresa to take better care of it. Together they work on restoring it to its former glory. The author attempts to draw a parallel between the car and the man's age, but it seems more an afterthought than a true thread of the story. Paparone's illustrations are full of life, movement, and color and will no doubt appeal to youngsters.
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PreS-Gr. 2. Earnest, scrupulously politically correct storytelling has never been Soto's style: Chato's Kitchen
inked at pachuco
cliche and, to many readers' delight, slipped barrio slang into the hallowed precincts of a picture book. Here, Soto addresses young children, transplanting another oft-caricatured element of Chicano culture--the lowrider--into a tale featuring a toy pedal-car and a little girl (in a wonderful reversal of the usual machismo
surrounding vehicles). The story line meanders a bit and is a little preachy, involving a lesson in taking responsibility for prized possessions. But the exuberant blend of English and Spanish (a glossary at the front of the book clarifies expressions such as hijole!
gives the narrative a needed boost, and kids who call the barrio home will love finding reflections of their own communities in Paparone's affectionate, stylized acrylic paintings: a Mexican flag flutters from a child's tricycle, a bodega advertises pollo fresco.
For children unfamiliar with Chicano culture, offer this alongside alternative perspectives that can prevent the lowrider emphasis (especially problematic in one image of a grown-up slouching at the window of his showy pink lowrider) from perpetuating stereotypes. Don't be surprised, though, if the story of the shiny, child-sized hot rod and its hapless owner pleases audiences far more than titles that more piously press the multicultural buttons. Jennifer MattsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved