Mamá’s Panza

Penguin/Kokila. Mar. 2024. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593616420.
PreS-K–“Mamá dressed her panza in bright colors and flowers to show the world that she was blooming.” And why is this beautifully round, gorgeously brown woman blossoming among the green succulent plants and peonies, strawberries, and chrysanthemums of Galvez’s botanical-worthy scenes? She carries the small narrator, still growing in her belly, the first home, where it is safe. “I heard your heartbeat. The first place I held you, my little panza pal.” On a lap where there is just enough room for this toddler-almost-preschooler among her soft and welcoming folds, she says that panza is another word for cradle. In a day of play, there is a celebration of luche libre, the flora of Mexico, snuggling, blue skies, and a summit so safe on Mount Mamá that a child can lay down and rest. Her panza has a spot for reading and for bedtime. The young children who listen to this story will find their own words for this thread through and winding round and binding mother and child: tummy, tum-tum, safety, love, nest.
VERDICT Quintero’s words speak to bonds of care, while the glorious illustrations sing of bodies round and safe. In this must-purchase, there is bounty of feeling, respect for physicality, touch, and sensation, wrapped in a picture book pocket.

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