Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Picture Books by René Colato Laínez + Giveaway!

I am so excited to have the opportunity to interview children's author René Colato Laínez about his latest book, Mamá the Alien / Mamá la Extraterrestre. One lucky reader will also be able to win a copy from the publisher, Lee & Low! The interview, plus my review of the book, will be published next week, but here's a taste of some of his previous books ...

Picture Books by René Colato Laínez

Realistic Fiction

Waiting for Papá / Esperando a Papá (2004), illustrated by Anthony Accardo. Beto is turning 8 and celebrating his third birthday away from his Papá, who did not receive a visa to leave El Salvador along with Beta and his Mamá. The book does a good job of showing the long and complicated process of applying for a green card, as well as the impact of having enough money or knowing the right lawyer. This was René's first picture book. (Bilingual in English and Spanish.)

Playing Lotería / El juego de la lotería (2005), illustrated by Jill Arena. Our young narrator is nervous to stay alone with his abuela in Mexico, as he doesn't know very much Spanish. But when she takes him to la feria and shows him her lotería stand, he finds his hook for learning more Spanish - and for teaching abuela some English. The author's note includes additional information about the game, also known as Mexican bingo. This is a cute story about connecting to a grandparent who speaks another language and one that I will be adding to my text set on international grandparents. (Bilingual English and Spanish.)

My Shoes and I (2010), illustrated by Fabricio Vanden Broeck. Mario and his Papá are leaving their home in El Salvador to join his Mamá in the United States. This lyrical story focuses on the new shoes Mario has received from his Mamá and what happens to his shoes during their long trip across three countries. This would be a good book to read in the context of his other stories, as this one does not contain any conversation about legal vs. illegal immigration. (English only, with some Spanish phrases.)

From North to South / Del Norte al Sur (2010), illustrated by Joe Cepeda. Based on the true experiences of his students in California, this story is about a family split by deportation. José is excited to see his Mamá again, after she was deported from their home in San Diego. This book does a great job of highlighting the impact of deportation on families while also ending with a message of hope. The author's note at the beginning explains his inspiration and provides details about the real El Centro Madre Assunta in Tijuana, Mexico. The use of a US/Mexico map for the end papers is another nice touch. (Bilingual in English and Spanish.)

Autobiography / Memoir

I am René the Boy / Soy René el niño (2005), illustrated by Fabiola Graullera Ramírez. Young René has moved from El Salvador to the United States and is shocked to discover that there is another student named Renee in his class ... and she's a girl! This would be a great book to use with students to encourage them to explore the meanings and origins of their own names - or to write their own name-based speeches or poems like René. (Bilingual in English and Spanish.)

René Has Two Last Names / René tiene dos apellidos (2009), illustrated by Fabiola Graullera Ramírez. In this follow-up story, René is frustrated when his school name tag has only one of his last names and not both. Despite some initial teasings from his classmates, a family tree activity helps René showcase both sides of his family tree and what his last names mean to him. This is another book that would make a great classroom tie-in. (Bilingual in English and Spanish.) [A Skipping Stones Honor Award winner]

Traditional Tales

The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez (2010), illustrated by Tom Lintern. In this mash-up, the Tooth Fairy responds to the loss of Miguelito's tooth, only to discover that she has competition: El Ratón Pérez, who has collected the teeth of Miguelito's parents and their parents too. The two are able to work out their differences, and the author's note provides background information about the origins and histories of both characters. (English only.)


Shared with #DiverseKidLit

Stay tuned for next week's interview with René Colato Laínez as well as a review of his newest picture book, Mamá the Alien / Mamá la Extraterrestre. Rather not wait? Enter the giveaway today! (US domestic addresses only, please.)


  1. I can't think of a poetry book to mention, but I will say "Muy bueno" on your timely selection of books to share. :D

  2. I will be reviewing this book shortly too. It was great.
    Also,I pinned all of the terrific books you mentioned.
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thank you for sharing this new-to-me author. I love learning about bilingual books both because I hope my son learns Spanish (our elementary school has a dual language program) and because my school is over 50% Hispanic. Thank you!

  4. Living in South Texas, our libraries have been so good about having this kind of book available for the children and their families. As a retired children's librarian, families teaching their children Spanish loved to have the bilingual books as they allow a grandparent who speaks no English to read the same story in Spanish that the child or parent can read in English. Thank you for sharing these new books that have come out since I retired.
    ~ linda @ The Reader and the Book

  5. This author is new to me, but the books look lovely! Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com!

  6. I haven't read/reviewed any of his books! They look like gems. Thanks for the heads-up!

  7. Thanks for sharing this selection, Katie. Lee & Low put out some tremendous reads.


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