September 19, 2017

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Sing, Don’t Cry by Angela Dominguez | SLJ Review

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redstarDOMINGUEZ, Angela. Sing, Don’t Cry. illus. by Angela Dominguez. 32p. Holt. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781627798396.

PreS-Gr 2 –In this semiautobiographical picture book, Dominguez honors the memory of her grandfather Apolinar, whose music and optimism had a great effect on her. Every year, Abuelo visits from Mexico, bringing his guitar and his joyful outlook. “He would tell us about his life, and if we were sad about something, he would say, ‘Sing, don’t cry. Because singing gladdens the heart.’ ” Abuelo advises that loss can open the door for new opportunities. As Abuelo narrates, the illustrations depict three vignettes of life and loss. One vignette references real events from Apolinar’s life (a childhood accident, being alone in a new city), and the other two follow the children in the story, showing everyday troubles such as bullying, losing a beloved toy, failing a test, and not making the team. The examples from Apolinar’s lived history prove that the refrain isn’t an empty platitude, demonstrating how his positive outlook impacted the events of his life, leading him toward happiness. Dominguez expertly employs color to move the narrative along, interspersing the full-color illustrations of the present-day visit with Abuelo with more monochromatic recollections of the past. Apolinar’s scenes are in sepia, and the children’s are tinged with reds and blues, coordinating with their clothing. This is indeed a book with a moral, but its roots in family history make it authentic, heartfelt, and relatable rather than didactic. VERDICT With its straightforward text; large, clear illustrations; and joyful message about dealing with adversity, this is a wonderful choice for group sharing. Recommended for all libraries.–Anna Haase Krueger, Ramsey County Library, MN

This review was published in the School Library Journal July 2017 issue.

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