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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Former library copy with standard library markings.There is no highlighting or writing inside with a nice tight spine.
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My Havana: Memories of a Cuban Boyhood Hardcover – August 10, 2010

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-6–In an author's note, Wells explains that she first heard a radio interview with the architect Secundino Fernandez in 2001 in which he spoke of leaving his homeland at the beginning of Castro's regime. Wells related to his story and tracked him down; the result is this engaging fictionalized tale. It follows Dino's idyllic childhood in Cuba to his years of living in Spain with his maternal grandparents, back to Cuba, and then describes his life as a Spanish-speaking immigrant in New York City in 1959. He laments the cold, drab winter and his difficulties with the language. He gets lost on the way home from school; his Puerto Rican classmates speak a different dialect; and his teacher is mean to him until his drawing skills win favor. By the end of the school year, Dino has made a friend, been promoted, and discovered Coney Island. "New York sunlight, shimmering with the promise of summer, settles round my shoulders like the arms of my mother. It is almost like my Havana." The story is a window into the early life of an artist; Fernandez sees his world differently, noticing colors, shapes, and textures–even temperatures–of the buildings around him. Readers are introduced to several infamous dictators and political figures including Castro, Che Guevara, Franco, Hitler, and Batista. Striking, full-color, full-page illustrations, along with black-and-white thumbnails and a few childhood photographs, capture the magical memories that inspired this tribute.Barbara Auerbach, PS 217, Brooklyn, NY
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

In this fictionalized, first-person account, Wells teams up with architect Fernandez in a portrait of a child’s life under Castro’s Cuba, Franco’s Spain, and Eisenhower’s America. Small and observant, “Dino” loves to draw his colorful Havana surroundings. At age six, he visits his grandparents in Madrid, and his shock over his new surroundings changes his drawing style as he develops his unique visual perspective. A highly anticipated homecoming in Cuba is short-lived, though; after threats from Che Guevara, Dino’s family flees to “terribly black and gray” New York City. Eventually, Dino is able to draw on old memories as well as the thrill of new friends, a new language, and fresh visual inspiration to help him assimilate and grow up to become a respected and accomplished architect. Full-color and black-and-white illustrations throughout add to the strong atmospheric language to make for a literary piece that will be understandable to anyone who’s ever left one place and made a new life in another. Grades 3-5. --Andrew Medlar
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 5
  • Lexile Measure: 760L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 72 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; 1 edition (August 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076364305X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763643058
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.5 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #751,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By DAC VINE VOICE on August 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Wells, a bestselling children's author was moved to tell Secundino Fernandez's story after hearing a 2001 radio interview with the architect. When Fernandez was a boy he and his parents had to leave his home in Havana, Cuba.

In 1954, Secundino (Dino) is six years old. He loves Havana and is constantly sketching the city buildings. Oct. 1954, is the first time the Fernandez family leaves Havana. The family moved to Spain for 3 years. Dino's father must look after his brother's family, while he recovers from a rooftop fall. Dino still carries a sketchbook but many times the pages stay empty. Dino misses home. At school Dino is teased for his Cuban accent. It's in Spain, where Dino first hears the word dictator and what it means to be ruled by one.

Abuela buys eggs and butter in secret from a man who hides them under his cloak and comes to the back door at night. Almost nothing from the outside, goods or medicine, ever makes its way into Francisco Franco's Spain. "Franco makes himself and his friends rich," says Abuela Maria "while the rest of us live on bread and water." She says this very softly as if someone might be hiding and listening.

In 1956, the Fernandez family move back to Havana. Dino's parents go back to work at the restaurant they own. In 1959 when Fidel Castro comes into power, its time for the Fernandez family to say good bye to Havana.

The book is filled with many facts and is very readable. I can almost see Fernandez sharing his childhood memories with Wells. I don't know where Ferguson, the illustrator was, but he couldn't have been very far. The gorgeous illustrations perfectly match the text. Also think they make My Havana that much more appealing to young readers.

There aren't many books for the 8 and older set that mention 1.
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Format: Hardcover
During the first six years of his life, Dino Fernandez lived in Havana, Cuba - a city built by angels, as his father fondly liked to claim. Dino may have been even more enamored of the city than his parents. He especially admired the architecture and could spend hours drawing buildings, domes, and courtyards in his sketchbooks.

It thus came as a rude shock when a family emergency led Dino and his parents to leave Havana for Spain. For a two-year period marked by frugal living under Spain's dictatorial Franco regime, Dino struggled with intense homesickness as he longed for Havana's splendor and friendlier way of life. Upon returning home, however, he learned that Cuba's own political problems would make it impossible for his parents to continue operating their restaurant in Havana. Leaving Cuba permanently proved heart-wrenching for Dino until he found comfort in building his own kind of Havana.

Based on the personal recollections of New York City-based architect Secundino Fernandez, My Havana offers readers a unique glimpse of Havana and its inhabitants in pre-Communist times. The narrative blends in several economics concepts, including the economic role of government in socialist economies and the importance of small business opportunities for supporting household well-being. Exquisite illustrations add a visually appealing element and help readers to better understand Dino's attachment to Havana's culture and architecture.
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I may be significantly biased, as this is a fictionalized story about my father's childhood, but this is a fantastic book. Beautifully illustrated and fantastically written, this book relives a vivid story of the Havana as it existed without the shackles of Communism.

It is impossible to read this book without hoping that someday the beautiful buildings of Dino's Havana will once again flourish and thrive.
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