Medina, Juana. Juana and Lucas. Juana Medina, Illus. Fiction. Candlewick, 09/2016. 90pp. $14.99. 978-0-7636-7208-9. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 1-4.
Juana describes her life in Bogotà with her mother, grandparents, and dog Lucas, where she has school challenges that American readers will understand. One challenge is learning English, but if she improves her grades, her family will take her to the Spaceland amusement park in Florida. The main character and story are bursting with charm, and there are Spanish words sprinkled throughout that readers will comprehend based on the context. Dynamic full-color ink-and-watercolor cartoon-style illustrations will assist those moving up to easy chapter books because the pictures give plenty of clues to what is occurring in the story. Some areas of the text are in a larger font and bolded for emphasis, or curved but are still easy to read since they are larger than the regular text. Both the text and illustrations have abundant white space which will also assist readers, but the book’s strongest aspect is the memorable, imperfect main character. Juana may remind some readers of the characters Judy Moody or Clementine, but she is original, and the aspects of Colombian culture enhance the book’s distinctive setting.
Penny Peck, San Jose State University, iSchool