Carmela Full of Wishes

by Matt de la Pena (Author) Christian Robinson (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

When Carmela wakes up on her birthday, her wish has already come true--she's finally old enough to join her big brother as he does the family errands. Together, they travel through their neighborhood, past the crowded bus stop, the fenced-off repair shop, and the panadería, until they arrive at the Laundromat, where Carmela finds a lone dandelion growing in the pavement. But before she can blow its white fluff away, her brother tells her she has to make a wish. If only she can think of just the right wish to make . . .

In their first collaboration since the Newbery Medal- and Caldecott Honor-winning Last Stop on Market Street, Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson deliver a poignant and timely new picture book that's sure to be an instant classic. With lyrical, stirring text and stunning, evocative artwork, Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson have crafted a moving ode to family, to dreamers, and to finding hope in the most unexpected places.


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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review

In one brilliant sequence, Mexican papel picado depicts what Carmela imagines, ending with “her dad getting his papers fixed so he could finally be home” and a cutout of a kneeling father embracing his daughter. It’s a bracing page, the best in the book, and just as sublime as the text. It’s another near-perfect slice of life from a duo that has found a way to spotlight underrepresented children without forgetting that they are children first.

Copyright 2018 Kirkus Reviews, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

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.)

Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

Today is Carmela's birthday, the long-awaited milestone that means she may accompany her brother to town. To Carmela, this is a wonderful adventure despite the mundane nature of the trip—washing clothes at the laundromat. Naturally, her brother would rather go alone, and finds Carmela's enthusiasm exasperating. When she finds a dandelion, he stops her just before she blows the seeds away and tells her that she needs to make a wish first. The simple weed becomes a powerful talisman for the child, and she holds it tightly, helping one-handed with the laundry as she contemplates the perfect wish. Carmela's ideas about what to wish for realistically range from an endless supply of candy to, "Imagining her mom sleeping in one of those fancy hotel beds she spent all day making for fancy guests." And, "Imagining her dad getting his papers fixed so he could finally be home." Each of her dreams is cunningly portrayed as a papel picado flag. Robinson's textural cut paper and paint collages portray a busy neighborhood and make even the most prosaic settings sing with life and beauty. When a stumble causes Carmela to lose her dandelion and all the wishes that it represents, her brother comes to her aid and shows her, and readers, something truly beautiful. The ending is just open-ended enough to satisfy while leaving plenty of room for discussion. VERDICT Carmela's journey of wishing, waiting, and wanting resonates on many levels; an important addition to bookshelves everywhere.—Anna Haase Krueger, Ramsey County Library, MN

Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

An Instant New York Times Bestseller

 "[A] beautiful book about the love of siblings and community. . . . A must read for everyone."—School Library Connection, starred review

Matt de la Pena
Matt de la Peña is the Newbery Medal-winning author of Last Stop on Market Street. He is also the author of Love; A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis; and six critically acclaimed young-adult novels. Matt teaches creative writing and visits schools and colleges throughout the country. Matt lives in Brooklyn, NY. You can visit Matt at mattdelapena.com or on Twitter @mattdelapena.

Christian Robinson is a 2016 Caldecott Honoree and also received a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor for his art in Last Stop on Market Street. His picture books include the Gaston and Friends series; Leo: A Ghost Story; School's First Day of School; The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade; Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker; and many more. You can visit Christian at theartoffun.com or on Instagram @theartoffun.

Classification
Fiction
ISBN-13
9780399549045
Lexile Measure
630L
Guided Reading Level
N/A
Publication date
October 20, 2018
Series
-

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