From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3—Told in an authentic child's voice, Papi's Gift
is the touching story of Graciela's separation from her father, who is earning a living in the U.S. due to a drought at home. He has been gone so long that the girl is "forgetting his face." Every Sunday, the family communicates by telephone, and one day Papi mentions that he sent Graciela a surprise package for her seventh birthday. The child imagines what must be in the box, and she waits and waits. When Papi says it must be lost, she becomes angry and doubts whether she will ever see the rain—or him—again. With time, Graciela sends Papi her own special package and learns to hope again. A few Spanish words and phrases add authenticity to the engaging text. Moreno uses pastels to render soothing, warm illustrations that have a Latin American flavor and elements of folk art. In almost all of the pictures, the central theme is family, and readers experience the close-knit group from varying perspectives. This is a strong addition to the growing body of picture books with Hispanic themes and characters. Oddly enough, Stanton never names the country where Graciela lives; many will assume that it is Mexico. Pair this picture book with Jacqueline Woodson's Coming on Home Soon
(Putnam, 2004) to provide two views on separation from a beloved parent.—Barbara Katz, Parish Episcopal School, Dallas, TX
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
True to a small Latina girl's experience, this moving picture book tells the migrant labor story from the viewpoint of the child left behind. When drought dries up the crops, Papi must leave the family's village to pick fruit in faraway California, and Graciela misses him all the time. The warm pastel pictures show her close with her mother and siblings on their hot, dry farm south of the border (the story doesn't indicate a specific setting). In a moving scene, they make the Sunday call on the village pay phone, and Papi tells her he is sending a gift for her seventh birthday. She waits and waits, and when the box is lost, Papi cries on the phone, while the girl is furious; Mami consoles her by making a beautiful doll from dried cornhusks and fabric scraps. The realistic story has suspense and hope--and surprise--but no false comfort, as the girl waits and waits for Papi's return. With occasional Spanish expressions, the particulars root the experience in one child's yearning, even while they speak of universals. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved