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All the Way to Havana

by Margarita Engle

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2-Accompanied by the vibrant onomatopoeia of an old rebuilt car, a brown-skinned boy travels with his family from their village in Cuba to the capital city, Havana, to celebrate the "zero-year birthday" of his cousin. The focus of this colorful picture book is on the car (nicknamed "Cara Cara"), one of Cuba's many mid-20th-century American vehicles maintained through constant tinkering. "Ours is so tired that she just chatters like a busy chicken-cara cara, cara cara, cluck, cluck, cluck." Award-winning poet Engle transports readers to Cuba through her lively verse, and Curato (author/illustrator of the "Little Elliot" series) does the same with his nearly photorealistic illustrations rendered in pencil, with digital color bringing out the bright tones of the tropics. Each spread includes endless detail, from the clothes hanging on the clothesline in the boy's backyard to Havana's beautiful architecture. The stars of the book, of course, are the 1950s cars, which Curato studied on a research trip to Cuba and depicts precisely in all their mixed-and-matched glory. While younger readers will simply enjoy the journey, older children may desire more information about the context of the story, some of which can be found in the author's and illustrator's notes. VERDICT A fun addition to the ever-popular genre of transportation picture books-this one with a unique perspective and message of perseverance.-Clara Hendricks, Cambridge Public Library, MA Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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

Publishers Weekly The pre-1959 American car, held together, as Engle (Lion Island) so evocatively writes, with "wire, tape, and mixed-up scraps of dented metal," has become a visual trademark of Cuba and testimony to its citizens' resilience and ingenuity. One of these cars, a bright blue Chevy Delray christened Cara Cara (because her aging, patchwork engine makes sounds "like a busy chicken-cara cara, cara cara, cluck, cluck, cluck") is the star of this contemporary story, taking the young narrator and his family from their rural home to a celebration with relatives in Havana. The masterly sense of place, color, and shape that make Curato's Little Elliot stories so touching proves perfect for a landscape that's larger than life. He and Engle chronicle Cara Cara's journey in loving detail as the family moves along the coast and into bustling city streets, giving readers glimpses into daily Cuban lives-newlyweds in a Dodge convertible, laundry hanging from balconies as "a sea breeze sings." It's a wonderful introduction to America's very nearby neighbor. Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Michelle Humphrey, Martha Kaplan Agency. Illustrator's agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Aug.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* Acclaimed Cuban American poet Engle here celebrates the persistence and ingenuity of Cubans, who have learned to make do in the face of poverty and scarcity. A young boy and his family prepare to travel from their rural home to Havana to celebrate the birth of a new cousin. Mama has baked a cake, and the gift is wrapped, but the family's 1953 Chevy, affectionately known as Cara Cara, is making horrible noises: Some of this island's old cars purr like kittens, but ours is so tired that she just chatters like a busy chicken. Papa lifts the hood, and father and son tinker until finally the car is roadworthy. So we purr cara cara / and we glide taka taka / and we zoom zoom. The party is festive and happy; the ride home smooth and sleepy. Engle's tone is upbeat throughout: she highlights modest country vistas, picturesque contemporary Havana, busy people going about their daily chores, and the profusion of noisy vintage cars. Curato's vibrant pencil and digital illustrations depict iconic images of Cuba small farms, city neighborhoods, and government buildings all in photographic detail. And while the antique cars may take center stage, the Cuban people also shine in their determination and resilience. A lyrical and beautiful offering that should help to humanize views of this island nation.--Weisman, Kay Copyright 2017 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.