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Cover image for Abuela


[First edition].
Publication Information:
New York : Dutton Children's Books, ©1991. (Hong Kong : South China Printing Co.)
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 28 cm
General Note:
"Designed by Barbara Powderly"--Title page verso.

Illustrations on lining-papers.
Flying over Manhattan Island, turning somersaults in midair. Gliding low to race the sailboats, spreading skirts for sails. Rosalba and her grandmother, her abuela, are taking an extraordinary trip - on Rosalba's imagination. "Tantos pájaros. So many birds." Rosalba says to herself, feeding the birds in the park with Abuela. "What if they picked me up and carried me high above the park? What if I could fly?" And fly she does, calling Abuela up to her and narrating their marvelous journey in English spiced with Spanish phrases. Many of the sights they see remind Abuela of when she first came to this country. Collage illustrations burst with energy and beauty, transforming New York City into the treasure for readers that it is for Rosalba and Abuela. Their adventure is a spirited tribute to the power of love and family pride between a little girl and her grandmother.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader LG 2.5 .5.

Reading Counts K-2 3.5 2.


Call Number
JP Dorros
JP Dor

On Order



A young girl and her grandmother celebrate their home and relationship in this magical story. Winner of the Parents' Choice Award!

Come join Rosalba and her grandmother, her abuela, on a magical journey as they fly over the streets, sights, and people of New York City which sparkles below. The story is narrated in English, and sprinkled with Spanish phrases as Abuela points out places that they explore together. The exhilaration in Rosalba's and Abuela's story is magnified by the loving bond that only a grandmother and granddaughter can share.

Also available in a Spanish-language edition (ISBN: 978-0-14-056226-2)

"A book to set any child dreaming...any reader can handle it, whether familiar with Spanish or not. It's just joyful."- The New York Times

* "A marvelous balancing of narrative simplicity with visual intricacy...the city is transformed into a treasure trove of jewels, dazzling the eye, uplifting the spirits."- The Horn Book (starred review)

* "Each illustration is a masterpiece of color, line, and form that will mesmerize youngsters...The smooth text, interspersed with Spanish words and phrases, provides ample context clues...a jewel."- Booklist (starred review)

"Dorros's text seamlessly weaves Spanish words and phrases into the English narrative, retaining a dramatic quality rarely found in bilingual picture books"-- Publisher's Weekly

An ALA Notable Book
An NCSS-CBC Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies
A Library of Congress Children's Book of the Year
An American Booksellers Pick of the Lists selection
A Booklist Editor's Choice
A Horn Book Fanfare Listing
Winner of the Parent's Choice Award
A Hungry Mind Review Children's Books of Distinction List selection
A New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing selection

Author Notes

Arthur Dorros, an author and occasional illustrator, was born in Washington, D.C. on May 19, 1950. He attended and graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a B.A. degree in 1972. He received his postgraduate teaching certification from Pacific Oaks College in 1979. He has worked odd jobs in his youth such as: builder, carpenter, drafter and photographer. He was a teacher for both elementary and junior high. He was the artist in residence for more than a dozen New York public schools while running programs in creative writing and bookmaking. Some of his children's books are written in both English and Spanish. He also writes books that deal with science and nature. Ant Cities and Feel the Wind were named Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children by the National Science Teachers Association/Children's Book Council and A Tree is Growing was named an Orbis Pictus Honor Book. He has received the Reading Rainbow Review book selections award for three of his books - Alligator Shoes, Ant Cities and Abuela.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-- An innovative fantasy narrated by a Hispanic-American child who imagines she's rising into the air over the park and flying away with her loving, rosy-cheeked abuela (grandmother). From the air, they see Manhattan streets, docks, an airport, tourist attractions, and Rosalba's father's office. The simple text could be enjoyed as a read-aloud or as a read-alone for newly independent readers. What makes the book so interesting is Dorros's integration of Spanish words and phrases via Abuela's dialogue within the English text. While some phrases are translated by the child, others will be understood in context. As insurance, a glossary, which provides definitions and pronunciations, is appended. The illustrations sing out a celebration of the love and joy that underlies the brief, straightforward narrative. Combining vibrant watercolor and pastel images with interesting snippets of collage in an exuberant folk-art style, Kleven depicts the adventurous, warm-hearted Abuela and the jazzy, colorful topography of an energetic, multiethnic city. Thoughtful design extends to the endpapers featuring cloud formations that cleverly echo many images from the story. While not bilingual in the strictest sense, this book is a less self-conscious, more artfully natural approach to multicultural material. It should prove useful not only for collections in which there is need for ethnic diversity, but also as enrichment for intellectually curious children who are intrigued by the exploration of another language. --Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Greenwich, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this tasty trip, Rosalba is ``always going places'' with her grandmother--abuela . During one of their bird-feeding outings to the park, Rosalba wonders aloud, ``What if I could fly?'' Thus begins an excursion through the girl's imagination as she soars high above the tall buildings and buses of Manhattan, over the docks and around the Statue of Liberty with Abuela in tow. Each stop of the glorious journey evokes a vivid memory for Rosalba's grandmother and reveals a new glimpse of the woman's colorful ethnic origins. Dorros's text seamlessly weaves Spanish words and phrases into the English narrative, retaining a dramatic quality rarely found in bilingual picture books. Rosalba's language is simple and melodic, suggesting the graceful images of flight found on each page. Kleven's ( Ernst ) mixed-media collages are vibrantly hued and intricately detailed, the various blended textures reminiscent of folk art forms. Those searching for solid multicultural material would be well advised to embark: Vamos ! Ages 3-7. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

This translated edition features a Spanish text lightly sprinkled with English. Effectively incorporating sensory detail, Dorros eloquently re-creates an atmosphere of vivid imagination as Rosalba and her grandmother circumnavigate Manhattan by air, inviting the reader to experience the sights and sounds of the city. From HORN BOOK 1995, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Rosalba imagines how the grandmother who takes her to the park might soar with her over the city (New York), sharing the sights. Since ``Abuela'' speaks ``mostly Spanish,'' Rosalba mentions many Spanish words for what they see, and in their conversations. Though the storyline here is slight, the relationship glows with affection; the Spanish vocabulary is well integrated and clear in context. Kleven's illustrations--jewel- like collages of sparkling images and patterns, crammed with intriguing details--effectively transmit Rosalba's joy in her narrative. Pronouncing glossary. (Picture book. 3-8)

Booklist Review

Gr. K-2. While in the park feeding the birds, with her abuela (grandmother), Rosalba wonders what it would be like to fly--and in her imagination--fly they do! Together, the young girl and her grandmother see New York City from above--the neighborhoods, the coastal area, and the docks. At the Statue of Liberty, Abuela says, "Me gusta," remembering her first trip to the U.S. After a brief flight over the airport, they land to visit Tio Pablo and Tia Elisa's store for a limonada ("Flying is hot work"). Off they soar again, viewing the skyscrapers before landing back at the park. As they walk around the path at the lake, Rosalba begs Abuela for another adventure. The paddle boats are waiting. Exquisite color collages convey the special relationship between white-haired Abuela and her granddaughter. Each painting is a tableau of details. The animated tableux features a rainbow of ethnic characters, pets, flowers, and bright curtains with the general excitement of a city street. Each illustration is a masterpiece of color, line, and form that will mesmerize youngsters. These are pages to be studied again and again. The smooth text, interspersed with Spanish words and phrases, provides ample context clues, so the glossary, while helpful, is not absolutely necessary. This is similar in some ways to Faith Ringgold's Tar Beach [BKL Ja 1 91], and used together, these "wish" books would make a powerful foundation for a multicultural unit for children of all ages. Even if used alone, this book is a jewel. ~--Deborah Abbott