Reviews for Across the Bay

by Carlos Aponte

Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Aponte explores a young child's physical and emotional journey coping with his father's absence from his life and learning to love all that is around him. Carlitos lives with his mother, grandmother, and cat in Catano, a town just across the bay from Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Now and then, in the streets or at the barbershop, Carlitos notices that there's something "different" about his family. From his mother, the young boy learns that his father lives "across the bay." ("Sometimes things don't work out.") Carlitos decides to hop onto the ferry and travel to Old San Juan with a photo of his dad and the hope of finding him. Through strikingly colorful and vibrant illustrations, Aponte captures the essence of Old San Juan: while Carlitos asks around for his father, readers can see such typical local images as a shaved-ice vendor, a group of cats, old men playing dominoes, the traditional San Sebastian street festival, and people flying kites at El Morro fort. This tale, in which a young boy walks around by himself without anyone knowing, asking, or wondering where his supervising adults are, is based on Aponte's childhood memories of a particular time and place. A lively and honest story about filling voids and exploring what defines a family--as well as a love letter to a childhood home. (c) Copyright 2021. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

PreS-Gr 2—Missing a father in his life, a young boy goes searching for him. Carlitos lives in the town of Cataņo in Puerto Rico, a town just across the bay from the capital city of San Juan. Carlitos leads a happy life with his mother, abuela, and cat, Coco. But he doesn't like going to the barbershop, where he feels left out when he sees all of the other boys accompanied by their dads. Knowing his father lives in San Juan, the boy finds an old photo of him, grabs some money, and tiptoes out of the house and to the ferry terminal. Predictably, he doesn't find his father but instead realizes how important the family he does have is to him. Aponte's color-filled illustrations capture the vibrancy and warmth of Carlitos's environment. As the boy walks the streets of San Juan, readers familiar with the city will easily recognize it. The text, however, is inconsistent. For example, the absence of a father is explained as, "most families in Carlitos's town looked the same. His family didn't look like the others." It is also somewhat jarring when the barber greets Carlitos's mother as "Doņa Carmen" but she responds with a simple "Francisco." Is she asserting social privilege? VERDICT Though not without flaws, this book with a Puerto Rican setting may be considered as a secondary purchase.—Lucia Acosta, Children's Literature Specialist, Princeton, NJ

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Carlitos lives with his mother and his abuela in Cataņo, Puerto Rico. Though he's happy in his cozy house, his family is different because his father is gone, living somewhere across the bay in San Juan. An idea forms: he'll bring a photo of his father and take the ferry to the capital. He shows the picture to strangers, and some offer suggestions. He wanders until the only place left to look is the El Morro castle. But there's no Papi, and his photo is lost. The kind words of a park ranger offer solace: no matter the dark clouds, the sun will eventually return. Aponte does a fine job of taking on a poignant problem without overwhelming the story with sadness. Much of the heavy lifting is done by the effusive art, done in the style of mid-century artwork, with thick lines around fancifully shaped characters, including hidden gems like the cats that follow Carlitos. The lushly colored art is suffused with an animation that reminds readers that life is always moving, a good lesson for any age group.--Ilene Cooper Copyright 2010 Booklist

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Carlitos' yearning for his father takes him on a clandestine solo trip to Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, to find him. In the town of Catao, across the titular bay from the capital, Carlitos lives with his mother, his abuela, and their cat, Coco. Carlitos' "family didn't look like the others." The neighborhood children play basketball, learn to ride a bike, or do housework with their fathers while Carlitos goes to the barbershop with only his mother. When Carlitos asks about Papi's whereabouts, his mother reassures him that his father is across the baythat "sometimes things don't work out." Even though he is happy with his family, a desire for more sets Carlitos on a ferry with Papi's photo in hand. Vibrant illustrations with an inviting tropical palette draw readers in as Carlitos searches high and low for Papi. A refreshingly varied spectrum of brown shades of skin abounds in colorful city scenes. Wide-angle perspectives effectively emphasize emotional scale: the vastness of San Juan Bay, Carlitos' sense of his own smallness as he searches for his father in the "maze" of the old capital, and his despair at his journey's end. Aponte's decision to leave Carlitos' quest unresolved is an honest one, and readers will respond to this beautiful depiction of a young boy's physical and emotional journey within a deeply cultural setting.Shining with palpable pride for family and home. (Picture book. 3-7) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly
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Aponte (A Season to Bee) unmistakably writes from the heart in this story rooted in his childhood in Puerto Rico. Located across the bay from Old San Juan, Carlitos’s hometown of Cataņo, where he lives with his loving mother and abuela, is ablaze with flowers and fruit trees—vibrantly portrayed in fluid, expressive cartoons that capture the tranquility of his village and the vitality of the city beyond. The observation that Carlitos’s family “didn’t look like the others” is confirmed when he and his mother enter a barbershop where other boys wait their turn alongside their fathers, prompting Carlitos to ask, “Mami, where is Papi?” Her response—that he is “across the bay” and that “sometimes things don’t work out”—incites Carlitos to sneak out of the house and ride a ferry to the city, a photo of Papi in his pocket. After no one he asks recognizes the man in the picture, the comforting words of a park ranger and Carlitos’s longing to see his family “calling from across the bay” impel him to return home—contentedly. A reflective, poignant portrait of loss, resilience, and the protean nature of family. Ages 3–7. (Sept.)