El lugar perfecto

Putnam. May 2024. 32p. tr. from English by Polo Orozco & Ileana Orozco . Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593699027. SP.
Gr 1-Gr 5–This latest offering from the Newbery winner explores themes that are sometimes difficult to explain to children. Lucas is proud that he earned a perfect grade on his robot paper and cannot wait to share at home. However, things at home are chaotic as Papá’s truck breaks down, requiring them to push it to start while his friends watch on—how embarrassing. Mamá is leaving for work, his baby sister sleeps, and his grandfather plays and sings sad songs on his ukulele, even shedding a tear or two. Lucas is upset that he’s unable to tell his family his good news and falls asleep fully clothed, suddenly awakening to a bright light that leads him to a gloriously perfect world. There, his accomplishments are lauded by the mayor, and imperfections are immediately removed. Yet Lucas is drawn back by the sounds and smells of his imperfect home to discover his mother reading his robot paper where the family gathers to celebrate it. Escobar’s digital art tones provide helpful comprehension clues between the real and dream worlds. This title presents child-friendly themes with nuance, such as how “fairness” and “perfection” do not necessarily equate. Its lesson is that identity, joy, satisfaction, and love are most often found in imperfect spaces. The text is also important for instruction in higher-level Spanish language vocabulary, using inference and the examining of story arc.
VERDICT An excellent choice for picture book shelves; add this to all collections.

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