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Mama and Papa Have a Store

From the clip, clop of the milkman's mule in early morning to the clic, clac of her father's abacus at night, a young girl tells about a day in her family's store and home in Guatemala City. Every day customers of many heritages--speaking Spanish, Chinese, and Mayan--come to buy cloth, buttons, and thread in colors like parrot green and mango yellow, and dozens of other items. While the girl's parents and their friends talk about their hometown in China from where they emigrated many years ago, she and her siblings play games on the rooftop terrace, float paper boats, and make shadow puppets under the glow of flashlights. When the store closes, the girl dances to celebrate her day. Amelia Lau Carling's thoroughly American children loved her childhood stories about Guatemala so much that she wrote them down for others.From Publishers Weekly

Drawing on her memories of growing up in Guatemala as the daughter of Chinese immigrants, debut author/artist Carling sunnily evokes a companionable mingling of cultures. Her parents, whose Chinese names mean Lady Who Lives in the Moon and Fragrant Pond, are do?a Graciela and don Rodolfo to the customers who frequent their general store. Going past the paper lanterns and firecrackers on display, a weaver pores over "rows and rows of colored strands [of thread] arranged like schools of fish in glassy water," and chooses "volcano purple, maize yellow, hot pepper red." Lunch in their home behind the store is cooked in a wok and served with tortillas. Tropical foliage and a pila (pool) for the goldfish adorn the spacious patio; on la terraza, the kids play with a miniature landscape of a Chinese mountain with little pagodas and moon bridges. Carling's festively patterned, serene watercolors show the narrator happily being a kid: dangling a string for the cat, buying candy, floating paper boats in the gutter. In a scene that marvelously captures the book's fusion of familiar and exotic elements, the kids sled on pieces of cardboard down a waxed tin roof, a mountain in the distance and colorful laundry and flowers in the foreground. Kids may enjoy trying to separate out the threads of Mayan, Spanish and Chinese cultures, but all come together seamlessly in this snippet of an idyllic childhood. Ages 4-8.

Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

~Ages 4^-7. A young Chinese girl describes in wonderful detail a typical day in her parents' general store in colorful Guatemala City. When her siblings go off to school, she sits on her stoop and watches the candy woman selling sweets from her big wooden box. Inside the store, "Mama knits without looking down and talks with the customers in Spanish" and "Papa at his desk adds and subtracts with his abacus." A young family comes by bus from its Indian village to buy thread for weaving, and the Chinese bean curd seller who lived in Mama and Papa's hometown in China stops by and reminisces over a cup of tea. The nicely rendered watercolors depict each scene with authentic details that surely spring from Carling's childhood memories of growing up in Guatemala. Use this to complement a study of the Chinese, Spanish, or Mayan culture or as an introduction to the concept of immigration. Lauren Peterson~

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 3?The youngest child in a Chinese family that has emigrated to Guatemala City describes a typical day, from early morning to night, in her parents' dry goods store. The engaging account includes the sights, sounds, and smells inside and outside the busy shop, introducing an interesting melange of cultural elements as seen from the preschooler's point of view. A Mayan Indian family is among the day's customers; they purchase strands of thread to weave colorful designs into their clothing. The narrator's five siblings come home from school for a big midday dinner, then play on the roof terrace (they live behind the store); in the afternoon there is a storm, and the lights go out. There is a timeless quality to this account, which is based on the author's memories; it is only in a note on the title page that a time frame is established. Carling's lovingly detailed watercolors in candy-box colors illustrate her memories. They have a slightly naive and childlike quality that ideally suits the subject matter. A pleasant family story that should enrich library collections, especially those looking for multicultural themes.?Pam Gosner, formerly at Maplewood Memorial Library, NJ

Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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