Feliz New Year, Ava Gabriela! – Alexandra Alessandri, illustrations by Addy Rivera Sonda

    Feliz New Year, Ava Gabriela! – Alexandra Alessandri, illustrations by Addy Rivera Sonda, Albert Whitman & Company, 9780807504505, 2020 

Format: ARC (Hardcover available October, 2020)

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre: Picture Book

 What did you like about the book? I think what I loved the most about this book is that I feel like I learned so much about the celebration of the new year in Columbia. In this story we meet a young girl named Ava who is visiting her grandmother and extended family during the New Year celebrations. She does not know these relatives very well and she is a little anxious and shy about being with them for the holidays. She does not say much at first and feels “as small as a mouse”. (At this point in the story, I am not sure if it is because she is shy or because she cannot speak their language, although they speak English as well as Spanish. I have a feeling it is a little of both.) As the family includes Ava in all the preparations, the reader slowly sees some of the many wonderful traditions that happen during this holiday–preparing delicious foods, making a balloon doll, filling cups with 12 grapes, wearing special clothes, and music and dancing. All of these traditions are explained, also using Spanish words, so the reader really feels like they are learning something about how this holiday is celebrated in Columbia.

There is a glossary in the back of the book which is very helpful while reading the story. There are clear explanations of items–for example, a definition would not simply say “dessert” but explain the ingredients and how it is generally served. The illustrations are bright and colorful, perfect for the lush farm setting of the story.

Anything you did not like about the book. Nothing

To whom would you recommend this book? This book is perfect for children over the age of four years old, especially if they enjoy learning a little bit about culture and traditions from around the world.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries, preschools, daycare centers, anyone who works with children over the age of four years old. This would be perfect for an elementary school social studies classroom.

Where would you shelve it? Picture Books

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, this would be a great addition to storytime programs because it shows how some cultures celebrate the new year. I could see children having fun with some of the activities mentioned in the story.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.

Date of review: June 20, 2020

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