Review: Tia Isa Wants a Car by Meg Medina

tia isa wants a car

Tia Isa Wants a Car by Meg Medina, illustrated by Claudio Munoz

A little girl’s Tia Isa wants to get a car in order to take the family to the beach.  She wants one that is the color of the ocean with pointy wings at the back.  But Tio Andres laughs at the idea, calling it “ridiculous.”  They don’t have much money, but head to a car dealer where they find out they need to save more.  So the little girl sets out to help.  She stacks fruit at the store, feeds people’s pets, and teaches Spanish.  She waits until her money sock is bulging full and then surprises her Tia Isa.  Immediately, they run to the car dealer where they find just the right car way in back near the fence. 

A story of family and the importance of saving money for your dreams, this book will resonate with children who are saving their money for a large purchase as well as children from families where saving money is difficult but vital.  Medina writes with lovely imagery that creates a very vivid reading experience.  Readers discover that Tia Isa smells of lemon pies from the bakery where she works, that the car dealer smells of tar, and that work boots resemble ogre shoes. 

Munoz’s illustrations depict an urban neighborhood of apartments where neighbors help one another.  There is a feeling of safety in the illustrations, offering that rare glimpse in picture books of urban life without urban decay.  The illustrations of the family have that same feeling of warmth and belonging.

Dreams, savings, waiting and helping: this book speaks to all of those and ends with a refreshing ocean breeze.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by There’s a Book.

Review: Pregnant Pause by Han Nolan

pregnant pause

Pregnant Pause by Han Nolan

Released September 19, 2011.

Eleanor has always made the worst decisions but this one may top them all.  She’s now pregnant and married to her boyfriend.  Oh, and stuck in a cabin, at a weight-loss camp, with her in-laws who definitely don’t approve of her.  Her parents have left her to return to Kenya and their missionary work with AIDS infants.  Everyone wants Eleanor’s baby.  Her older sister who has been struggling with infertility wants the baby.  Her in-laws who lost a child in infancy want it too.  But Eleanor and her husband are the only ones who can decide what they are going to do.  As Eleanor works at the camp with the children, she learns that she has a real skill with kids.  And of course, she does it in her own way.  Now she just has to figure how to handle her marriage, pregnancy, and a baby.

Nolan’s writing is exquisite.  She has created a protagonist in Eleanor who is definitely a hero, but also challenges the reader with her anger, her biting wit, and her choices.  Eleanor reads as a real person, with self-doubts and real emotions that originate naturally from the story line.  Nolan writes with a confidence and skill here, showing that there is life beyond pregnancy but it is filled with difficult choices and unexpected events.

A strong and riveting look at teen pregnancy, this book reaches far beyond a single issue and straight to the heart of a compelling character.  Appropriate for ages 14-17.

Reviewed from ARC received from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group.

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