Carmela Full of Wishes — First Review

Carmela got her first review, and it’s a STAR from PW. Christian and I feel so fortunate. Can’t wait to share this book with young people! Here’s the review:

 Carmela Full of Wishes

Matt de la Peña, illus. by Christian Robinson.

It’s Carmela’s birthday, and she’s finally old enough to accompany her big brother on his errands. On their way to the laundromat, Carmela finds a puffy white dandelion to blow. De la Peña captures with a fine ear the tone of their sibling dialogue: “Did you even make a wish?” her brother asks scornfully. With delicious inspiration, Robinson renders the wishes Carmela considers as papel picado decorations like those hung for her birthday. She wishes for a candy machine; she wishes her mother could sleep in one of the hotel beds she makes every day; she wishes her father could get his papers fixed “so he could finally be home.” Carmela jingles her bracelets: “Why do you have to be so annoying?” her brother snaps. “It’s a free country!” she retorts. But when she takes a tumble, crushing her dandelion, his impatience melts—“You okay?”—and they share a magical wish-making moment. The award-winning team behind Last Stop on Market Street portrays Carmela’s Spanish-speaking community as a vibrant place of possibility, and Robinson’s acrylic-and-cutout spreads introduce readers to street vendors, workers in the fields, and sweeping views of the sea. Sensitively conceived and exuberantly executed, Carmela’s story shines. Ages 4–8. Author’s and illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.)