Felíz New Year, Ava Gabriela!

by Alexandra Alessandri (Author) Addy Rivera Sonda (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Ava Gabriela is visiting her extended family in Colombia for the holidays. She's excited to take part in family traditions such as making bunuelos, but being around all her loud relatives in an unfamiliar place makes Ava shy and quiet. How will Ava find her voice before she misses out on all the New Year's fun?
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School Library Journal

K-Gr 3--When soft-spoken Ava Gabriela goes to visit her extended family in the countryside of Colombia, she wants to join in on the traditional New Year's festivities, but is held back by shyness. She longs to play with her cousins, but her words feel stuck. Still, she finds small ways to express herself, especially one-on-one with certain relatives who are more understanding than others. This warm #OwnVoices look at Colombian traditions, including wearing yellow underwear and eating grapes for good luck, is both universal and deeply personal. An author's note explains that these are just some of the country's many traditions, and that each family may celebrate differently; here they create and destroy an effigy of the "Año Viejo" (old year). A glossary defines the Spanish words in the text, although the use of both Spanish and English in the story always provides clear context for monolingual readers. Sonda's charming illustrations portray an idyllic finca, complete with a small clay-tiled house surrounded by cacti. Ava looks 5 or 6 years old, and has dark brown hair and light skin. The language is just as atmospheric. With ample similes and metaphors, Alessandri creates a character who is not defined by her shyness. She feels like a "little mouse," but Ava understands this is not how she wants to be. She is able to enjoy the celebration once her "voice [grows] wings." VERDICT A story about overcoming shyness in a unique storybook setting, recommended for purchase.--Clara Hendricks, Cambridge P.L., MA

Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

2020 Florida Book Awards, Young Children's Literature category, Silver Award

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Albert Whitman & Company
Publication date
October 01, 2020
BISAC categories
JUV039050 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Emotions & Feelings
JUV013030 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | Multigenerational
JUV017080 - Juvenile Fiction | Holidays & Celebrations | Other, Non-Religious
Library of Congress categories
Family life
Bashfulness in children
New Year
Colombian Americans
2020 Florida Book Awards, Young Children's Literature category, Silver Award

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