Sing, Don't Cry

by Angela Dominguez (Author) Angela Dominguez (Illustrator)

Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

Once a year, Abuelo comes from Mexico to visit his family. He brings his guitar, his music--and his memories.

In this story inspired by the life of Apolinar Navarrete Diaz--author Angela Dominguez's grandfather and a successful mariachi musician--Abuelo and his grandchildren sing through the bad times and the good. Lifting their voices and their spirits, they realize that true happiness comes from singing together.

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Starred Review

With its uplifting message and smiling characters, Dominguez's story reminds readers that life's woes are inevitable but can be mitigated by a song in the heart. 

School Library Journal

Starred Review

PreS-Gr 2--In this semiautobiographical picture book, Dominguez honors the memory of her grandfather Apolinar, whose music and optimism had a great effect on her. Every year, Abuelo visits from Mexico, bringing his guitar and his joyful outlook. "He would tell us about his life, and if we were sad about something, he would say, 'Sing, don't cry. Because singing gladdens the heart.' " Abuelo advises that loss can open the door for new opportunities. As Abuelo narrates, the illustrations depict three vignettes of life and loss. One vignette references real events from Apolinar's life (a childhood accident, being alone in a new city), and the other two follow the children in the story, showing everyday troubles such as bullying, losing a beloved toy, failing a test, and not making the team. The examples from Apolinar's lived history prove that the refrain isn't an empty platitude, demonstrating how his positive outlook impacted the events of his life, leading him toward happiness. Dominguez expertly employs color to move the narrative along, interspersing the full-color illustrations of the present-day visit with Abuelo with more monochromatic recollections of the past. Apolinar's scenes are in sepia, and the children's are tinged with reds and blues, coordinating with their clothing. This is indeed a book with a moral, but its roots in family history make it authentic, heartfelt, and relatable rather than didactic. VERDICT With its straightforward text; large, clear illustrations; and joyful message about dealing with adversity, this is a wonderful choice for group sharing. Recommended for all libraries.--Anna Haase Krueger, Ramsey County Library, MN

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Praise for How Do You Say? / ¿Cómo se dice?

Young children will delight in the antics of two endearing giraffes in this bilingual picture book. —School Library Journal

This charming story is as light as air yet carries heft. —Kirkus Reviews

As appealing to look at as it is to listen to, this book... provides opportunities to bring together those learning English, learning Spanish, or just learning how to make new friends and amigos. —The Horn Book

Dominguez's bold, playful pictures keep the focus squarely on the giraffes' one-on-one interactions as she demonstrates something that many children know intuitively: speaking different languages is a minor detail when it comes to making new friends. —Publishers Weekly

Praise for Maria Had a Little Llama / María tenía una llamita

A fresh and enjoyable reimagining of a traditional children's rhyme. —Kirkus Reviews

A solid addition to a bilingual storytime program. —The Bulletin

Angela Dominguez
Angela Dominguez was born in Mexico City, grew up in the great state of Texas, and now resides in Brooklyn. She has written and illustrated several previous books for children, including Maria Had a Little Llama, a Pura Belpré Honor Book, and How Do You Say? / ¿Cómo se dice? As a child, she loved reading books and making a mess creating pictures. She's delighted to still be doing both.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Henry Holt & Company
Publication date
April 20, 2023
BISAC categories
JNF007050 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Cultural Heritage
JNF038070 - Juvenile Nonfiction | People & Places | Mexico
JNF036020 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Music | History
Library of Congress categories
Diaz, Apolinar Navarrete de

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