Carlota No Dice Ni Pío by José Carlos Andrés, illustrated by Emilio Urberuaga. NubeOcho, c2013, 2021. 9788418599279
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Format: Hardcover picture book
What did you like about the book? In this reprint of the Spanish-language picture book, Carlota is a little girl with a strange power: without ever speaking, people know what she wants and act on her behalf. They hand her sandwiches when she’s hungry and understand what game she wants to play during recess. Even when her teacher asks her questions, Carlota is able to demonstrate mastery with hand gestures. However, an omnipotent and cheeky narrator warns us, something frightening is about to happen! Carlota and her friend Tom the mouse head to the pantry for a snack but a breeze blows the door shut and Carlota is trapped, with no one to read her face! She tries staring at the canned goods, hoping one will get the message and open the door, alas, to no avail. Summoning her resolve, Carlota finally uses her voice, which appears as a lovely plume of blue smoke. Her tones are so dulcet that the letters fly out of her mother’s book and the notes issuing from the song Dad is listening to on the radio fall to the floor. From then on, Carlota does talk to her parents and her friends, although she and Tom continue to understand each other perfectly without a word needing to be said aloud. The bilingual high school seniors who read this to me loved it. They especially enjoyed the arch but loving tone of the narration and the happy ending. The charming, colorful art work with its bright, warm colors, lively shapes, and fanciful but familiar objects sealed the deal. Carlota, her family, classmates, and teachers all have light colored skin and many have blond hair.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No
To whom would you recommend this book? Carlota could be shy or could also be interpreted as struggling with selective mutism. Either way, this could be a powerful story for those looking to (literally) find their voices. The book, with its breaking of the 4th wall, would be fun as a read aloud and its themes could inspire discussion and text-to-real-life connections. It could also be useful for speech therapists, ELL teachers, and social workers.
Who should buy this book? Elementary or public school libraries looking to increase their Spanish-language picture book collections.
Where would you shelve it? Picture books in a Spanish-language section
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: April 3, 2022