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Discovering Family: April 2017 Primary

March 17th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2016-2017 | April

Finding the Music = En pos de la música by Jennifer Torres. Illustrated by Renato Alarcão. Spanish translation by Alexis Romay. Children’s Book Press / Lee & Low, 2015

When Reyna accidentally breaks her late grandfather’s vihuela, a small guitar-like instrument he played in a mariachi band, she asks various community members to help her fix it before her mother finds out. During her visits to her music teacher, the music store, the hardware store, and other places, Reyna learns more about her abuelito and mariachi music. Each person also gives her an object related to her grandfather—his old hat, a photo, a record of his band—which Reyna brings home to share with her mother. A warm, bilingual picture book has a strong, satisfying storyline that conveys a vibrant sense of community and family, reflected in the acrylic illustrations. A note provides more information about mariachi music, which grew out of the blending of indigenous and Spanish musical traditions in Mexico.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. In what ways do Reyna’s feelings about her community change during the story?
  2. How did Abuelito make a memorable difference in the lives of people in the community?
  3. How do the items that Reyna receives from members of the community help her learn more about her grandfather?  How does the author use these items to create a description of Reyna’s Abuelito?

Poems in the Attic by Nikki Grimes. Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon. Lee & Low, 2015

A warm picture book collection alternates between poems in the voice of an African American girl whose mom is away in the military, and poems in the voice of her mother as a child, growing up in a military family that moved many times. The contemporary girl’s discovery of her mother’s childhood poems has inspired her to write her own, which often reflect on the differences between their childhoods, especially as she is living in one place with her grandmother while her mom is away, rather than moving from place to place. But there are many parallel experiences that play out in the two poems on each page spread, one in each voice. There is a strong sense of connection and continuity—grandmother, mother, grandchild—while in both present and past there is a child missing a parent who is away on duty. The illustrations do a terrific job of distinguishing between present and past on the same page spread. An author’s note talks more about the experiences of military children and identifies the actual U.S. air force bases which formed the locales for the places the girl’s mother lived as a child.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. In what ways do the poems in the attic connect the girl with her mother and with her grandparents?
  2. What do the poems tell us about the similarities and differences in the life of the girl and her mother?
  3. In what ways does the writing of poems help both the girl and her mother?

Find discussion guides, lesson plans, and more resources for Finding the Music and Poems in the Attic at TeachingBooks.net!

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