Angélica y la güira

Penguin/Kokila. Jul. 2024. 40p. tr. from English by Kianny N. Antigua . Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593619537. SP.
K-Gr 2–A joyous celebration of family, community, and music. Angélica spends every summer in the Dominican Republic. Before returning to Washington Heights, Abuelito gives her a güira to connect her to her roots while in New York City. It was passed down for several generations. The metallic percussive instrument’s song can make people move so fast their feet look like hummingbird wings. When Angélica misses her grandfather, she tries to play the heirloom in her small apartment, grating the metal pick against the bumpy sides, but the raucous sound is deemed too loud for her family. She dreams of playing with her school orchestra, but her band teacher says it’s not right for the music they’re playing. Finally, she plays on her stoop, for herself, remembering her ancestors and that while she plays the güira, she is never alone. Other kids join her with their own instruments, until the whole block is dancing, their legs moving so fast they disappear. This lyrical picture book debut by Cruz captures the power of music to connect to one’s heritage and bring people together through love and harmony. The rhythmic and poetic text is the melody while Batista’s vibrant illustrations are like the chords that enrich it. A ribbon of onomatopoeic sounds emanates from the güira and threads across the artwork. The page design is dynamic; the colorful, digital art is textured and full of movement. Angélica’s family has skin in different shades of brown.
VERDICT A festive tribute to music and home that will strike a chord with all readers, especially those who see their cultures represented in these pages. Purchase for all picture book shelves.

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