Grandma's Gift Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-07-07 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 13 user ratings

"I borrowed a few books about Juan de Pareja from the library this week, and I started with this picture book. While it isn't a history book on the artist, I do think Grandma's Gift is excellent! And it's got so much going on. It's a sweet story about Velasquez's relationship with his grandma and it's about sharing love through food. It's also about how Velasquez was inspired to paint when he saw Juan de Pareja, a black man who was both a talented painter and worthy subject of art, for the first time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

And the art! The art is excellent. Velasquez painted 24 unique pictures for this book, including the visual directions for wrapping pasteles. Grandma's gifts are her cooking and her emotional support. Between the time-intensive, detailed paintings and the tender narrative, I can tell that Velasquez wanted to repay his abuela that labor of love.
" said.

"Grandma’s Gift written by, Eric Velaquez

Reflection: The entire story reminded me of my elementary school when we learned Spanish. The Spanish teacher would say the Spanish sentence and then say the English sentence. It was a good way to learn Spanish.

Rationale: I chose this book because it is a great story to teach Spanish words/sentences and then translate it to the English meaning. This book would be good for second and/or third grade students. This book is culturally specific because it talks about the Spanish community and it has Spanish words in the text.

Bloom’s Taxonomy Questions:
a. State an event in the story that happened after Grandma and the boy visited the produce stand.
b. Retell the story using vivid details.
c. What questions would you ask to the Grandma if you were the little boy?
d. What is the relationship between the Grandma and the boy?
e. What is your opinion of the boy and why do you feel that way?
f. How would you rewrite the selection from the Grandma’s point of view?
" said.

"Grandma's Gift is a book about a young boy who while on Christmas vacation is assigned a field trip homework assignment to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Since his parent's work, his Grandma is the one who takes him to the museum, despite her hesitations of venturing out of her neighborhood, El Barrio. While he understands his Grandma is not used to going out and taking the bus to the East Side of Manhattan where people don't look like her. he tries to find a common ground to make her feel at ease. With some effort, he finds a painting in a gallery that looks like his Grandma, and she begins to really like the museum. At the end of their trip, they go back home and start to make pasteles for the impending Christmas dinner, teaching everyone reading the book the secret to some delicious pasteles.
This book is great for showing how people in Puerto Rican households (and also Hispanic ones) celebrate the Christmas holiday with their food and family gathering. It is a great example to draw parallels with other cultures to show how while the culture may be different, the main themes of holidays can be the same: spending time with family and enjoying authentic home-made foods.
" said.

"When I heard that this year's Belpre Illustrator award had gone to a book called Grandma's Gift, I groaned inwardly. It sounded treacly and overly sweet, a story about a toy from grandma that symbolized her love, the greatest gift of all... or something else really cheesy like that.

But the book isn't really about Grandm's gift. Not obviously anyway. It was actually a nice surprise because the main characters are of the African diaspora but Spanish-speaking (from Puerto Rico). Actually, this is a autobiographical tale of how Velasquez himself decided to become an artist (or at least how his interest was sparked) when he traveled to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and saw a painting of Juan de Pareja (the first painting he had ever seen of a person who looked like him). Of course, I'm aware that a very large percentage of Spanish-speaking people in the world are black, and that the slave trade was prominent in Latin America and in Spain (from taking a slave literature class in college). But I think that this is the first children's picture book I've seen depicting that particular group of people. So that was pretty cool.

Grandma's Gift is great for teaching (or reinforcing) Spanish, since the grandma in the story doesn't speak English, and her Spanish sentences are translated. The illustrations aren't really anything new or innovative, but they are realistic (which is a style I like) and give you a good sense of what's going on.

I'm a little puzzled about who or what to recommend this book for. It wouldn't really be good for a storytime because there is a lot of text on each page; the kids would be a little bored and restless. The amount of text also poses a problem in terms of independent reading. I think that this would be a great read for older kids who are already reading chapter books. It could also be a good one-on-one read for parents and kids. A lovely story.

2011 Pura Belpre Illustrator Award
" said.

"Grandma’s Gift

Audience: K-2, and older

Genre: picture book, multicultural, Latino, biographical

Awards: Pura Belpre’ Award for Illustration 2011

Review: The illustrations in this charming story about a young boy of Cuban and African decent are colorful and realistic. This book would be really fun to read before the winter holidays since it takes place just before Christmas. From the illustrations, it appears the setting is the mid 1970s in a Barrio in New York. The main character has an assignment over the holiday break to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and look for a specific painting. He stays with Grandma during the break and helps her make the traditional Cuban pasteles for Christmas gifts. Grandma, not able to read English, seems out of her element at the Museum until she sees the portrait of Juan de Pareja. Later she tells her grandson about the Cuban slave turned painter. On Christmas day there is a special present for her grandson.

Quote promoting visual imagery: “First, Grandma carefully laid out a sheet of parchment paper with a piece of banana leaf on top. Then she poured a little annatto oil on the leaf and added la masa (the dough) and la carne (the meat)—with a valley scooped out in the middle for la salsa (the sauce). For the finishing touch, she folded everything together to form a perfect rectangle and tied each one with string so it looked like an old-fashioned parcel.”

Rationale: I chose this passage because it is extremely visual and procedural. I can just picture the process of making the pasteles. It would be fun to pretend to assemble them as you read the story. Pause at this point in the book and “assemble” pasteles. Do it over and over until you have a pile of them. Ask students what color the different ingredients would be? Ask the students if they can imagine eating them after they have been boiled? Of course there are also vocabulary words to clarify in order to appreciate the images. Show them the picture of a finished pastele and ask them what they think it looks like. Then ask if they can give a synonym from the story (parcel). As an extension, I would make pasteles to share with the students.

It was fun to read this book with my son who is also Latino. We talked about how the main character had never seen a painting with someone who looked like him when he had been to the museum on other trips. We also talked about how pasteles sound like the Guatemalan tamales we make to celebrate my son’s heritage.

" said.

"At the "Multicultural Children’s Literature for Joy and Justice" Meetup, after the children's librarian leading the session gave us a series of guidelines to be attentive to (illustrations: stereotypes, tokenism, who's powerful/active, invisibility; storyline: standards for success, resolution of problems, depiction of family; #ownvoices; etc.), we broke into small groups and the children's librarian passed out a mix of books -- some with good representation, some with less good.

This one is good.

The protagonist is the son of an Afro-Latinx Puerto Rican family living in NYC.

(view spoiler)" said.

" I can’t wait to share this book with my second graders. Grandma and grandson learn more about each other by spending time in El Barrio in New York and by going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for an assignment for the grandson. There is a lot of Spanish in this book as the grandson needs to translate for his grandmother from Puerto Rico. Sweet story and great illustrations. Highly recommend. " said.

" Audience: Kindergarten and up, Anyone who likes to spend time with their Grandma, anyone who has translated things for othersAppeal: Nice story,Very nice pictures, Christmas StoryAward: Pura Belpre Award Winner 2011- For Illustrations " said.

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