La Tienda De Mamá Y Papá

In this evocative picture book, Mama, Papa, and six brothers and sisters live behind a fabric and thread store in downtown Guatemala City in the late 1950s. The narrator’s parents fled China during the Japanese invasion and, with a few neighbors, found refuge in Central America and opened their business. People come from all over to buy their bright fabrics and brilliant thread for weaving and making clothes. Author and artist Amelia Lau Carling depicts an almost magical kingdom where Chinese, Guatemalan, and Native cultures meet in harmony, where children can play and learn about all the different peoples who bring the city to vibrant life.

Mama & Papa Have a Store

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.