La Nana del coquí

Editorial Destellos. Nov. 2023. 22p. Tr $15. ISBN 9781958479124. SP.
Baby-Toddler–Puerto Rican poet Lázaro has crafted a lovely lullaby splendidly illustrated by Italian artist Bardeggia. It’s nearing bedtime, and a light-skinned child pretend plays as an aviator, complete with a vintage leather helmet and a red cardboard airplane. Critters, such as a cat, birds, and coquí, trail behind as the toddler seems to fly over the vibrant, green yard. They shift into the bedroom where the child eventually falls asleep in the crib. This nana (traditional term for lullaby) is written in spare, rhyming text. References specific to Puerto Rican culture add an extra rich layer. The family plays San Serení, a song that’s meant to be acted out; moriviví (the touch-me-not plant that closes its leaves at dusk) is mentioned. The fanciful illustrations expand upon the poem. The vivid blues, oranges, and greens of the tropics shine through, reminiscent of Clement Hurd’s work in Goodnight Moon with a softer palette, or in the style of Erin E. Stead. The same otherworldly feel of that classic permeates throughout. Is the child dreaming? Clouds that drifted into the nursery earlier in the book now appear hanging over the crib in a mobile. The sleeping toddler holds on to a red toy airplane. That same vehicle is flown by a coquí on the last page, where a bird holds a framed photo of an aviator family member in his beak. A recording of the lullaby can be found via a QR code.
VERDICT An ode to Puerto Rico, bedtime, and a child’s imagination that’s a must for Spanish-language picture book shelves.

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