Across the Bay

Penguin Workshop. Sept. 2019. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781524786625.
PreS-Gr 2–Missing a father in his life, a young boy goes searching for him. Carlitos lives in the town of Cataño 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 “Doña 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.

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