Mango, Abuela, and Me
By Meg Medina
Illustrated by Angela Dominguez
Published by Candlewick Press
Ages 5 and up

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A 2016 Pura Belpré Author Award Honor Book
A 2016 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award Honor Book

When a little girl’s far-away grandmother comes to stay, love and patience transcend language in a tender story written by acclaimed author Meg Medina.

Mia’s abuela has left her sunny house with parrots and palm trees to live with Mia and her parents in the city. The night she arrives, Mia tries to share her favorite book with Abuela before they go to sleep and discovers that Abuela can’t read the words inside. So while they cook, Mia helps Abuela learn English (“Dough. Masa”), and Mia learns some Spanish too, but it’s still hard for Abuela to learn the words she needs to tell Mia all her stories. Then Mia sees a parrot in the pet-shop window and has the perfectoidea for how to help them all communicate a little better. An endearing tale from an award-winning duo that speaks loud and clear about learning new things and the love that bonds family members.

Reviews & Accolades
“The text is not bilingual line by line—instead Medina artfully weaves a few Spanish words and phrases into her mainly English sentences in a way young Latinos take for granted, and most English speakers should understand…Dominguez’s appealing illustrations, in tones of mango and papaya blended with a more gray and brown urban palette, capture a realistic trace of sadness and confusion on Abuela’s face amid cheerful scenes of comfortable family life.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Abuela has left her house in a sunnier place and moved to the wintry city to live with Mia and her family in their small apartment. Even though Mia and Abuela share a room, the older woman still feels like a “far-away grandmother” because her English is “too poquito” for Mia to speak with her. But Mia won’t give up; embracing the role of teacher and enlisting the help of a bilingual pet parrot (the “Mango” in the title) she and Abuela are soon “full of things to say.” With its emotional nuance and understated, observant narration—especially where Abuela’s inner state is concerned—Medina’s (Tia Isa Wants a Car) lovely story has the feel of a novella. Dominguez’s (Knit Together) broader, more cartoonlike art initially seems like a mismatch, but she captures the doubt in Abuela’s eyes, and her sunny colors and simple characterizations keep the story from sinking into melancholy before it bounces back to its upbeat ending. A Spanish-language edition is available simultaneously.
Publishers Weekly

“Mia is a happy little girl who is excited when her Grandmother, Abuela, comes to live with them. But Mia has a big surprise: Abuela cannot speak English, and Mia does not know enough Spanish to talk to her. Sadly, all the two of them can do is watch television—not a very interesting activity. So they try to teach each other their language, using repetition, pointing at objects, and placing “word cards” around the house. Things are not progressing very well until Mia spies a parrot for sale in the local pet shop. Soon the parrot is installed in their home and begins speaking both Spanish and English words to the delight of Mia and Abuela. In no time the parrot becomes the medium for their mutual understanding. Abuela is able to share her stories of home, a sunny place with mango and palm trees and rivers running nearby; and Mia is able to tell Abuela all about herself and how she can run as fast as the boys can. The story is told in first person, present tense by Mia. The sprinkling of Spanish words throughout the text will benefit readers with knowledge of Spanish. The illustrations, many of which are full-page, contain strong, rich colors and bold, thick strokes. This charming story of learning how to communicate and understanding each person’s unique story is likely to please little ones, especially those with a Hispanic background.”
— Children’s Literature

“Mia is unsure of what to think when her grandma, Abuela, comes to live with her. She must open up her room to share with Abuela, even though the two don’t even share a common language. “Abuela and I can’t understand each other” Mia confides to her mom. “Things will get better,” she tells her, and indeed they do. Through some trial and error, persistence and even a feathered friend, Mia and Abuela find new ways to communicate. “Now, when Abuela and I are lying next to each other in bed, our mouths are full of things to say.” In this tale, Medina blends Spanish and English words together as seamlessly as she blends the stories of two distinct cultures and generations. Dominguez’s bright illustrations, done in ink, gouache, and marker, make the characters shine as bright as the rich story they depict. The glowing images of Mango, the parrot, a nearly silent star of the book, will win over audiences of all ages but the real magic is in the heartfelt tale of love. Everything about this book will make readers want to share it with someone they love. VERDICT A timeless story with wide appeal.
School Library Journal

“Abuela is coming to stay with Mia and her parents. But how will they communicate if Mia speaks little Spanish and Abuela, little English? Could it be that a parrot named Mango is the solution? The measured, evocative text describes how Mia’s español is not good enough to tell Abuela the things a grandmother should know. And Abuela’s English is too poquito to tell Mia all the stories a granddaughter wants to hear. Mia sets out to teach her Abuela English. A red feather Abuela has brought with her to remind her of a wild parrot that roosted in her mango trees back home gives Mia an idea. She and her mother buy a parrot they name Mango. And as Abuela and Mia teach Mango, and each other, to speak both Spanish and English, their “mouths [fill] with things to say.” The accompanying illustrations are charmingly executed in ink, gouache, and marker, “with a sprinkling of digital magic.” They depict a cheery urban neighborhood and a comfortable, small apartment. Readers from multigenerational immigrant families will recognize the all-too-familiar language barrier. They will also cheer for the warm and loving relationship between Abuela and Mia, which is evident in both text and illustrations even as the characters struggle to understand each other. A Spanish-language edition, Mango, Abuela, y yo, gracefully translated by Teresa Mlawer, publishes simultaneously. This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez, an honoree.”
Kirkus Reviews

Groups Represented

Theme: #OwnVoices
Theme: Bilingual
Theme: Family Relationships
Theme: Grandparents & Intergenerational
Theme: Learning English

United States

Engagement Projects & Resources

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