Carmela Full of Wishes

  • Title: Carmela Full of Wishes
  • Author: Matt De La Pena
  • Illustrator: Christian Robinson
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication year: 2018
  • Brief Summary: From Penguin Random House: “When Carmela wakes up on her birthday, her wish has already come true–she’s finally old enough to join her big brother as he does the family errands. Together, they travel through their neighborhood, past the crowded bus stop, the fenced-off repair shop, and the panadería, until they arrive at the Laundromat, where Carmela finds a lone dandelion growing in the pavement. But before she can blow its white fluff away, her brother tells her she has to make a wish. If only she can think of just the right wish to make . . .”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library –This is a great book to use, perhaps from kindergarten through first grade, in conjunction with other “slice of life” picture books like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. This is a book touching on the struggles of immigrant families in a way that does not complicate for a young reader. In the simple yet colorful illustrations done by Robinson, we realize Carmela’s family situation as she helps her brother with his errands. Her mother works at a hotel as a maid, and their father has not been able to come over to America yet. This is a book that most children could relate to, with Carmela and her brother having a very familiar sibling spat throughout. Yet this is a book where white children would also see a diverse point of view different from their own. And Hispanic children could see themselves in Carmela and her brother.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it. –Robinson’s illustrations really compliment the text. One of my favorite illustrations is the two page spread of Carmela and her brother and mother around a table eating a celebratory birthday breakfast. The background of this illustration is a bright yellow with vibrant purples and blues in the distance and colorful fruit on the table. There is very much a contrast when Carmela and her brother run their errands. The streets and traffic are rendered in more muted colors like brown, dark red, forest green and black. Again, when Carmela daydreams the colors are vibrant, the pattern of each illustration of her daydream is that of a papel picado banner, which I found a really unique touch on Robinson’s part. And I have to admit that the second to last two-page spread where Carmela opens her eyes and sees dandelion spores everywhere tugged at my heartstrings.

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