Top critical review
5 people found this helpful
Sad to have to give such a negative review....
on July 3, 2013
First, I have to say that I think Sonia Sotomayor, America's first Latina Supreme Court justice, has a great life story to share. I requested this picture book from Vine because I was so glad to see her inspirational story and life of accomplishments being shared with young children. I looked forward to reading it.
So I actually feel very sad to have to give it only two stars (it could even have been one star, but the illustrations, overall, are nice.) Why so low? Well, to begin with, the writing is sadly lacking. It is lacking a narrative "life story" feeling where you can feel what her life was like and how she was able to accomplish all that she did. It lacks the bright, interesting use of language that a picture book needs and it doesn't make you care about the main character or her life.
Yes, you read a little about her humble beginnings as the American-born daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants--her father, who died young but left her with the love of baseball that she is known for, and her hard-working mother who kept the family together--working two jobs, earning her RN at night, and raising one child who became Supreme Court Justice and another who became a doctor. It is a great American story, but ... unfortunately... it just isn't told very well here.
The way this book is written is very strange to me. It looks as if it would be a "read aloud" for young children, but it jumps all over and really isn't done in a way that keeps your interest. Sometimes it is difficult to know if you are reading about Sonia or someone else and the style is very choppy. The page on her mother, for example, begins: "Born in 1927, Lajas, Puerto Rico, Mami, age nine, watches her mother die." The type is set as if it's a poem, but the writing is flat, choppy (as the above sentence) and lacks character development, even for Sonia.
It also has an annoying habit of emphasizing that she is "Nuyorican" over and over, "born in Nuevo York". Is this important or just irrelevant and confusing? There is a glossary at the end, but I think the use of Spanish (or Spanglish) would be confusing for a child reading independently and distracting for a teacher reading aloud to have to stop and (try to) explain. Isn't it a lot more important and interesting to know that she's Puerto Rican-American? Do most people - most children - care about "New York" (only ever called "Nueva York" in this book that also only writes about "Mami" and "Papi")?
Basically, the writing is terrible--boring to read, choppy, full of holes and lacking any emotional impact whatsoever. Also, in my opinion, it isn't written with the language you'd like in a picture book--simple but engaging--and you get very little sense of who this remarkable woman is, either as a child or an adult. (If, like me, you find the oddly spaced writing uninteresting and hard to follow, there -is- a biography written in paragraphs at the end of the book. Unfortunately, this reads like a bare-bones encyclopedia entry).
Here's an example about her mother learning to be a nurse: "Mami, age thirty five, carries breakfast to a sick neighbor, takes his temperature and blood pressure, returns home to cook arroz con habichuelas, leaves the pot on the stove in case her kids come home hungry, hustles them out to Blessed Sacrament School, sends the monthly payment for Encyclopedia Britannica, heads out to Prospect Hospital, where she answers phones, announces on the intercom, 'Bring down the sheets'. The "ee" comes out as an 'i'." This is the second "paragraph" (formatted like verse) on the page about Mami. How is a kindergartener or first grader going to understand this (or find it interesting)?
I'm so sorry to give this book only 2 stars but I cannot picture who it is for--too dull for young children, too uninvolving for older children and not a fun read-aloud book either. Too bad.