A little girl pitches in to help her tía save up for a big old car — and take the whole family to the beach — in a story told with warmth and sweetness. Tía Isa wants a car. A shiny green car the same color as the ocean, with wings like a swooping bird. A car to take the whole family to the beach. But saving is hard when everything goes into two piles — one for here and one for Helping Money, so that family members who live far away might join them someday. While Tía Isa saves, her niece does odd jobs for neighbors so she can add her earnings to the stack. But even with her help, will they ever have enough? Meg Medina’s simple, genuine story about keeping in mind those who are far away is written in lovely, lyrical prose and brought to life through Claudio Muñoz’s charming characters.
The strength of family and the importance of pursuing one's dreams are the bedrock of middle-grade author Medina's (Milagros: Girl from Away) lyrical first picture book, drawn from memories of her own family. T a Isa, with whom the young narrator lives in a city apartment, is saving for a car so they can visit the beach. That desire is inextricably tied to one of the girl's own to be reunited with her parents, who still live on their native island and receive "helping money" from their family in the U.S. (Medina is commendably subtle about the exact details, letting them unfold naturally.) Emotionally invested in her aunt's goal, the girl finds odd jobs to help save money, and they finally buy a gorgeous 1950s-era convertible with tailfins and plenty of room for the girl's parents pictured with her at the beach in a triumphant final spread. Mu oz's (Jake's Best Thumb) wispy, pastel-hued illustrations exude emotion, from frustration ("...soon is when our family is going to join us here, so I know soon can be a very long time") to sheer exuberance. Ages 3 7.