About the Holiday
Cinco de Mayo has its origins in a victorious battle for Mexico during the Franco-Mexican War in 1862. In the United States this day is a celebration of the rich culture and heritage of Mexico that includes parades, mariachi music performances, Mexican food, and street festivals. If you can, attend a cultural event, listen to Mexican music, or prepare a special Mexican dinner.
Mango, Abuela, and Me
Written by Meg Medina | Illustrated by Angel Dominguez
During the winter Mia’s Abuela moves from her house far away to live with her family. Mia feels shy around her unfamiliar grandmother, but quickly adapts, sharing her room and her drawer space. The one thing they cannot share is language. Abuela “can’t unlock the English words” in Mia’s book, and Mia knows only a little Spanish.
On the first night Abuela shows Mia two things she has carefully brought with her—a feather from a wild parrot that roosted in her mango trees and a photograph of her late husband. “Tu Abuelo,” she explains to Mia.
For the rest of the winter, Mia spends time with her grandmother, but regrets that she can never tell her important things about her life. Abuela does’t know that Mia’s good at art or can beat the boys in a race. Likewise, Abuela can’t tell Mia about her life or answer Mia’s many questions.
When Mia confides in her mother, her mom reminds her of how she helped her best friend, Kim, learn English when she was new at school. One day while Mia and her grandma bake meat pies, Mia pretends to be her teacher, naming each ingredient in English. Abuela reciprocates with the Spanish word. Mia suddenly has an idea. Shetags everything in the house with its English name and the pair practices.
The next day on a trip to the pet shop to buy hamster food, Mia sees something in the window that gives her another exciting idea. Right in the middle of the display sits a colorful parrot. “Let’s buy him,” Mia exclaims. “For Abuela.” The parrot can keep Abuela company while she is in school, Mia thinks.
Abuela is thrilled with the gift, and they name the parrot Mango because he is the color of the tropical fruit. Abuela teaches him to say Buenos tardes. Good afternoon, Mia teaches him. “Buenos tardes, good afternoon,” Mango repeats. Abuela, Mia, and Mango spend the days practicing new English and Spanish words, learning the days of the week, the months, and the names of coins. Encouraged by her success, Abuela asks to learn more and harder words so she can meet people in the neighborhood.
Best of all, Mia and Abuela can now talk about everything. Their “mouths are full of things to say,” and they tell each other about their day and their lives. From his perch Mango watches and listens. Night falls and as the light is turned off, Mia says “Hasta mañana, Abuela.” “Good night, Mia,” Abuela whispers.
Meg Medina beautifully represents the relationship between a little girl and her grandmother who are unfamiliar with each other but bound by familial love. The little girl’s acceptance of her grandmother and desire to communicate is strongly depicted in the activities they do together. Mia’s clever ideas to promote the mutual learning of each other’s language shows the kind of inclusiveness that builds friendships.
Angela Dominguez depicts the developing friendship between Mia and her Abuela in bright paintings that mirror the reds, blues, greens, and yellows of the tropics. The pair’s closeness grows organically from page to page as Mia first shies away from the grandmother who is a stranger to her to attempts at communication to deep feelings of love as they bridge the language barrier through dedication, hard work, and the help of a unique friend.
Ages 5 – 8
Candlewick Press, 2015 | ISBN 978-0763669003
Cinco de Mayo Activity
Create a Soft Book, Page 5—Parrot
Parrots are beautiful and exotic birds with a talent for language! Add this colorful tropical parrot to your soft book with the printable template provided.
- Printable Parrot Template
- Yellow, green, orange, white, and black or brown felt, fleece, or foam
- Adhesive felt or foam letters
- Fabric glue
- Cut out the head and tail from the green felt, fleece, or foam
- Cut out the body from the yellow felt, fleece, or foam
- Cut out the beak, wings, and feather tufts from the orange felt, fleece, or foam
- Cut out the feet from the brown or black felt, fleece, or foam
- Assemble the parrot and glue in place
- Attach the adhesive letters, making sure they stick firmly. If they don’t use fabric glue
See you tomorrow!