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Grandma's Records (Rise and Shine) Paperback – March 1, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Making his authorial debut, Velasquez (The Piano Man) proves himself adept at evoking time and place as well as a loving family bond. The narrator spends his boyhood summers at his grandmother's apartment in Spanish Harlem, where Grandma introduces him to the sounds of merengue and conga, dances with him and tells stories of growing up in Puerto Rico. Whenever she plays one special song, she puts her hand over her heart. Sometimes the boy sketches album covers, sometimes musicians come to visit, but the highlight of the summer is hearing "the best band in Puerto Rico" (Raphael Cortijo's combo) at a big theater in the Bronx. When the lead singer dedicates his grandmother's favorite song to her, the boy is surprised to see the whole audience put their hands over their hearts. Later, he learns that the gesture "show[s] that their hearts remain in Puerto Rico even though they may be far away." In the end, the boy is an adult, shown illustrating this book and listening to a CD, hand over heart. Velasquez comfortably introduces Spanish phrases, adds notes about real-life musicians and offers an aesthetically pleasing array of period album covers on the endpapers. His illustrations are realistic but quiet, toned down in their depiction of Grandma and her tidy, neutral decor the music here emanates from the words. Ages 5-8.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
Grade 1-3-Each year, a boy spends the summer with his grandmother in her apartment in Spanish Harlem. Grandma loves music, and her extensive record collection provides hours of pleasure. Selecting music to share with her and sketching art from album covers are frequent activities. One special summer, Grandma is given two tickets to a live concert by a nephew, a percussionist in a well-known Puerto Rican band. When the lead singer dedicates the last song to her, the child is surprised to see everyone singing "Grandma's special song" ("In My Old San Juan") with eyes closed and a hand placed over the heart. Later he understands that this act symbolizes "that their hearts remain in Puerto Rico even though they may be far away." Finally, he is pictured as an adult in his studio honoring his grandmother and her music through his art. Velasquez's touching yet simply told memoir of this tender relationship is lovingly captured in his illustrations. The old woman's dignity and spunk are etched in her face while her housecoat and slippers, framed photos from long ago, and console phonograph create a distinct sense of time and place. Add this to your study of memoir and be sure to read it aloud in celebration of grandparents and the children they love. You'll be glad you did.
Alicia Eames, New York City Public Schools
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
The book introduces us to Eric by his retelling of how every summer he went to his grandma’s apartment in El Barrio while his parents worked. From the first day, she wrapped him around her music, her dances, her special song, and her stories about growing up in Puerto Rico. Eric, due to the insistence of his grandmother, carefully selected records to play for both of them. Selecting and playing records became a ritual during which he became fascinated with the album covers and his grandma’s love for Puerto Rican music.
These music-filled summers are delightfully represented through each carefully crafted illustration and each story. We can see how their joy for music is portrayed through images that are playful but veer into photo-realism, while their emotions are carefully captured through the text. Velasquez was able to pay tribute to his grandma’s connection to and love for music and Puerto Rico, the same love that cemented a strong connection for Eric to his grandmother.
This book has a wonderful moment I must highlight as an example of bringing historical context to a memoir to convey the power of music in our daily lives: One day Grandma’s nephew, Sammy Ayala, paid them a visit. Sammy was a musician and came from Puerto Rico because his musical group was going to perform for the first time in New York. Sammy gave his loving grandmother a copy of their brand-new record and two tickets to see his band: the now legendary Cortijo y su Combo with lead singer Ismael Rivera. This concert became for Eric and his grandmother a very personal and magical moment that captured their ongoing love for music and their 1950s summers in El Barrio. This melding of the historical with the personal is executed in a very endearing way, and it becomes a very powerful moment with the detailed illustrations.
What I loved about Grandma’s Records is how Velasquez depicted the power of music and how it can be a strong vehicle to guide you toward memories, people, and places. How Grandma felt connected to her home country, to her family, and to her Afro-Puerto Rican roots is portrayed perfectly. At the same time, we can see how music becomes an ideal bridge that helps erase multi-generational gaps and serves as a medium to share stories and create new memories. Through his grandma’s music collection, Velasquez illustrated the presence of Afrolatin@ musicians and singers. Through his words, images, and stories he placed Afrolatinidad in children’s literature and contributed to its much-needed visibility and representation in literature and media.