Carmela Full of Wishes
I love dandelion wishes and eyelash wishes and birthday wishes and all kinds of wishes. In fact, I’ve proudly taught my girls all about them, so much so that Little Lion has never told me any of her wishes after the age of 2.
I know there’s controversy surrounding Matt De La Pena. I know this. But after falling in love with Christian Robinson’s Another and realizing he also illustrated Leo, A Ghost Story, I HAD to check out this other works.
Gaston was calling my name. (A cute little French bulldog story written by Kelly Di Pucchio and illustrated by Robinson AND a parallel to an adoption story with acceptance of oneself? Yes, please!)
And Carmela was calling my name too.
Carmela Full of Wishes answers all my wishes for a fabulous picture book about inclusion and the multicultural ‘melting pot’ that I grew up in. I love the sibling relationship, I love the quirky nuances (“Carmela knew exactly what manure was, but she didn’t wan to think about that.”) and I love the subtext of yearning for a deported parent who isn’t there.
On top of which Robinson’s illustrations really MAKE the book byond a dream—from Carmela’s wishes depicted on colorful paper cutouts like the ones strung up in their house to the graffiti around the neighborhood to the satisfying ending of a story full of wishes among the seagulls. Robinsons’ collage like paintings are gorgeous and recognizable as his own signature style.
The tiniest of details are a big deal to me, like Carmela helping her brother one-handed because she’s still clutching her dandelion to that very dandelion popping up between the sidewalk cracks in the first place.
This book is full of heart and has stolen MY heart in its rendering.
Bravo to this writing-illustrating duo!
As a side note, I might relate a little too much to Carmela using one hand to do chores as my bookworm girls are often doing the same. Instead of a dandelion, their other hand is often clutching a book. Same thing as a wish, I guess.
I’m bringing back the DIVERSITY SIDENOTE: Carmela is a lovely story that many immigrant families may relate to. My immigrant story is different from Carmela’s story, but it still struck a cord with me, not just because I’ve worked with many families in the past with similar stories of split-up families. What I love most is how Carmela’s family is portrayed as resilient, just like the many families I have had the privilege to work with.
Tell Dr. Bookworm!
What picture book have you read that surprises you with the tiny meaningful details?