About the Holiday
Everyone needs a little space of their own—a place to think, read, write, or just say Ahhhh… after a long day. In today’s world of Man Caves and Women’s Sheds, designing a spot where you can get away and spend some rejuvenating alone time doing a particular hobby or just doing nothing is becoming easier and more accepted. Kids need their own spaces too—a personal place surrounded by the things they love.
My Very Own Room / Mi propio cuartito
Written by / Escrito por Amada Irma Pérez | Illustrated by / Ilustrado por Maya Christina Gonzalez
One morning a little girl woke up in a bed overrun with brothers. Victor’s elbow was poking her in the ribs, and Mario was curled up on the pillow with his leg across her face. In the next bed slept the girl’s three other brothers. The girl had had enough—after all she was nearly 9 years old. After years of sharing a room with her five brothers, “more than anything in the whole world [she] wanted a room of [her] own,” but space in her tiny house was hard to come by. What’s more, besides the eight immediate family members, sometimes friends and relatives from Mexico came to stay. It could be fun, but there was no privacy.
To get away she sometimes crept out early in the morning and climbed “the crooked ladder that leaned against the elm tree” in her backyard. It wasn’t that she didn’t love her brothers, she just needed a place of her own. She looked around the house for a space that would be just right. She peeked behind the flour-sack curtain that divided the living room from the storage closet. It seemed perfect! She imagined it with her “own bed, table, and lamp—a place where she could read the books she loved, write in her diary, and dream.”
While the storage nook seemed the solution, the girl’s mother shook her head. The space was already assigned to her aunt’s sewing machine, her uncle’s garden tools, furniture, and old clothes—the things needed for others to make a better life in America. But then her mother saw the tears in her daughter’s eyes and decided that perhaps the things in the storage space could find a new home on the back porch with blankets and a tarp to protect them from the weather.
With a hug and a kiss, the little girl thanked her mother, and they and the five boys began rearranging the house. Finally, all that was left behind the flour-sack curtain were a few cans of leftover paint. There was blue, white, and pink, but not enough of any one color to paint the room. Suddenly, the girl had an idea. She and her brothers mixed the three together and made…magenta! Tío Pancho offered a spare bed and after measuring the room and then the bed with a piece of yellow yarn, the little girl discovered that the bed would indeed fit. An upended wooden crate became a nightstand. But what about a lamp?
Mamá brought out her box of Blue Chip stamps that she’d been collecting for years. The stamps were awarded with gas and food purchases. When they were stuck into booklets and used at special stores, the stamps were as good as money. The girl and her brothers “licked and licked and pasted and pasted.” When they were finished, they all went to the stamp store. As soon as she stepped into the store, the girl spied the lamp she wanted. “It was as dainty as a beautiful ballerina, made of white ceramic glass with a shade that had ruffles around the top and bottom.”
Back home she carefully set the lamp on her bedside table, but “something was still missing, the most important thing…Books!” The next day the little girl brought home six books from the library—six was her “lucky number because there were six children” in her family. That night, the little girl nestled into her new room, turned on the light and began to read. When her two youngest brothers peered in through the curtain, she invited them in, and as they snuggled on her bed, she read them a story. At the end they said goodnight, and her brothers returned to their own room. Lying back against her pillow, the girl felt “like the luckiest, happiest little girl in the whole world” because each person in her family had worked to make her wish come true. She drifted off into peaceful sleep under a “blanket of books” in her very own room.
Amada Irma Pérez’s touching story from her own childhood is a delightful reminder for readers of the strong bonds of family love that puts other’s needs ahead of one’s own. The family’s commitment to each other is found not only in their willingness to help rearrange the house to accommodate a maturing daughter and sibling, but in the collection and storage of goods that will contribute to a better life for friends and relatives. Children familiar with reward points will be fascinated to learn about their predecessor “blue chip stamps.” The straightforward storytelling is infused with the kinds of hopes and suspense that resonate with kids, and the tender, quiet ending leaves readers with a lingering feeling of comfort and happiness.
Maya Christina Gonzalez fills the pages of My Very Own Room with joyous vibrancy and empathy that emphasizes the family’s connection. Soft edges and swirling patterns create a comforting environment, while elements, such as the long piece of yellow yarn, underscore the familial ties. While the little girl finds solace in the backyard elm tree and hunts for a space to call her own, her mother looks on with understanding, which leads to depictions of mother and daughter that are particularly moving. With warmth and welcome, each page invites readers into the family home to share a transitional event in their life.
The text is presented in both English and Spanish on each page, and is followed by a brief biographical note, including photographs, by Amada Irma Pérez.
It’s heartening to read a story in which siblings are so immediately supportive of each other. The gentle pace and upbeat tenor of My Very Own Room makes it a wonderful choice for quiet family story times or group school or library readings.
Ages 5 – 10
Lee & Low Books, 2008 | ISBN 978-0892392230
Learn more about Amada Irma Pérez and her books on her website!
Discover a gallery of book illustration and fine art by Maya Christina Gonzalez plus resources for educators on her website!
A Room of One’s Own Day Activity
Decorate Your Room Coloring Page
If you had a room to fix up just the way you’d like, how would it look? Here’s a printable Decorate Your Room Coloring Page for you to enjoy. Put your own knick-knacks on the shelf and your things on the nightstand by the bed. Then give your room a color scheme – and move in!
Picture Book Review