Juana & Lucas: Muchos Changes by Juana Medina. Candlewick Press, 2021. 9780763672096
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Genre: Realistic fiction
What did you like about the book? Juana and her perro Lucas are gearing up for yet another big adjustment; just as school is letting out for the summer, Juana learns that her Mami is expecting a baby with her new husband, Luis. As if that wasn’t enough of a bombshell, Juana also finds out she’ll be spending her summer days at roller skating camp. None of her friends are going to the camp, and she doesn’t know how to roller skate, so this is an unwelcome sorpresa. She’s not sure yet how she feels about becoming a big sister, and the kids she meets at camp do little to reassure her as they tell her all about how babies make everything complicado. At least she does start to enjoy the camp, making good friends and learning to enjoy skating.
Mami’s pregnancy is a difficult one and she is soon put on bedrest. Juana spends more quality time bonding with her new stepfather, and is delighted with the arrival of her loving abuelos. Despite her worry about Mami, Juana feels better spending time with Lucas, and practicing her roller skating skills. When her baby sister is born, and has to stay in an incubator for a while, Juana realizes that being a big sister to Maria is probably going to be better than she expected, and she is already making plans for their future together.
This is the third entry in a very charming series. Juana is a delightful narrator with whom readers will empathize; she tells her story with humor even in her most anxious moments. Spanish vocabulary is sprinkled throughout the text and is usually pretty easy to understand either as a cognate or through context. The layout of the book is entertaining, with big feelings expressed in bigger, bolder font, often set apart from the main body of the writing; sweet, colorful illustrations and funny diagrams with labels enhance the story. Medina does a nice job explaining the complications of the pregnancy and delivery; Juana’s fears are relatable and presented in a very age-appropriate way without sugar-coating the issue. Readers of previous books will be so happy to see repeat characters such as Juana’s grandparents and the Herrera brothers, who own the local bodega, and will also enjoy meeting the friends she makes at camp. And we can all hope for a future installment entitled Juana & Lucas & Maria!
Anything you did not like about the book? No
To whom would you recommend this book? Readers who have enjoyed the previous two books, and realistic fiction like Bea Garcia or Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey.
Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries
Where would you shelve it? Fiction
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.
Date of review: December 22, 2021