From School Library Journal
Grade 2–4—This alphabet book highlights people, places, and familiar items. Some entries rhyme: "J is for Juchitán. This spot is so hot, it's a good place to nap/In the skinniest part of the Mexico map." Others are in free verse. "L is for Lava. Ash, steam, molten fire explode over the land. A volcano is born." Children will struggle with terms such as "Ballet Folklórico," "Netzahualcóyotl," and "Usumacinta River." No pronunciation help is given. Chunks of information in very small type, written for adults to share with children, appear with each letter. Parra's vividly colored illustrations reflect Mexico's traditions and cultures. The people and places come alive as the artist portrays the diversity of the country's landscape, but the text will require a lot of adult help.—Sandra Welzenbach, Villarreal Elementary School, San Antonio, TX
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Written by Tony Johnston, who lived for many years in Mexico, this book introduces aspects of the land, culture, and history of that country suggested by letters of the alphabet: “A is for Adobe. . . . B is for Ballet Folklórico. . . . Cis for Cacao. . . . D is for Diego Rivera,” and so on. Each single-page or double-page entry is accompanied by a two- or four-line rhyme for younger children and, in a vertical border, paragraphs of information for older readers. The alphabetical device inevitably makes for a rather haphazard arrangement of topics, and the rhymed couplets vary in quality. Still, the paragraphs of information are clearly written, often lively, and well worth reading; Parra’s paintings illustrate them with flair and distinction. The influence of Mexican paintings and murals is apparent in their fresh combination of folk-art elements, sound composition, and imaginative touches. A colorful introduction to Mexico. Grades K-4. --Carolyn Phelan