The colorful picturebook, All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle with illustrations by Mike Curato, is set in modern day Cuba. It focuses on a family celebration and how Cuban resourcefulness keeps American cars from the 1950s running. A boy narrates the trip his family takes from the country to Havana in their precious old car, Cara Cara, a 1954 Chevy. Before they can take off, Papa and his son have to fix the car. They try and try to fix the silly noises. “The rattling parts have ben fixed with wire, tape and mixed-up scraps of dented metal.” Finally, “Cara Cara once again begins to sound like a chattering hen!”
The illustrations depict the sights along the road to the big city. When they arrive the road is full of “noisy old cars of every color….” As the family travels through the city, they see the variations in architecture and shops along the way. When they arrive at Tia’s house, the boy greets his extended family and helps celebrate his cousin’s zero-year birthday. “After lunch, cake, music and a happy birthday fiesta” the boys needs a quiet siesta. The visit ends too soon and the family travels back to their village. The next morning the boy and Papa work on the car again and he learns the car will be his someday.
Don’t miss the author and illustrator’s notes at the end that give background information about the island and how old American cars are refurbished. The lyrical poem is filled with onomatopoeia that spark the text. The end papers picture 24 old cars kept in running condition by the ingenuous people of Cuba. -Recommended by Marilyn Carpenter, Professor Emeritus, Eastern Washington University, Spokane, WA
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
PubDate: August 29, 2017
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