Dear Primo

Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin by Duncan Tonatiuh

One cousin in America and one cousin in Mexico write letters back and forth describing their lives.  Carlitos lives on a farm in Mexico with all sorts of animals.  Charlie lives in a city filled with skyscrapers and lights.  The lives of the two boys are contrasted with one another from food and games to shopping and celebrations.  Underlying the differences though are the similarities between the boys with their energy and strong communities.  Tonatiuh’s art strengthens this tie between the boys, making this book a cohesive whole.

Students learning Spanish will find the words peppering Carlitos’ part of the story interesting and useful.  They serve to add more than flavor to the text, strengthening the text and tying it more closely to Mexico.  Tonatiuh’s text is simple and interesting, allowing for a glimpse of two different lives.  It is his art that will really get this book off the shelves.  He combines a primitive feel in the characters faces and bodies with a modern collage technique that uses digital components.  The juxtaposition of the two makes for dynamic art that show both boys living with tradition and modern components to their lives.

A successful book about cousins who have plenty of differences but also lots in common, this book will be useful for young students learning Spanish.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.