If Your Babysitter is a Bruja (Ana Siqueira)

Hello, friends! Our book today is If Your Babysitter is a Bruja, written by Ana Siqueira and illustrated by Irena Freitas, a delightful multilingual Halloween tale.

Beware, kiddos: Halloween is approaching and magic is in the air. That’s one of the reasons that the unnamed child narrator of our story suspects that her new babysitter is not all that she appears to be. In fact, with a black sombrero, sus gatazos, and a decidedly witchy style, it’s almost certain: the new babysitter is a bruja! Fortunately, she appears to be a good witch, for while the child playfully “defends” herself against the bruja, it’s all in good fun – until the play crosses a line, and the child feels guilty that she may have offended her new spooky pal. Can she make amends for her behavior?

Wonderful! Siqueira and Freitas combine their talents to create an entertaining and unexpected Halloween tale. The tone of the story is light-hearted and humorous from the jump, with the illustrations presenting the bruja babysitter as a friendly figure that the child is enjoying her playtime with, even as the text teases a battle of wits between the babysitter and child. The text also nicely straddles the question of whether or not the bruja’s powers are real or the product of imaginative play, leaving young readers to draw their own conclusions. What makes the text truly special is the flawless use of Spanglish; while unitalicized Spanish words are given context by their surroundings for monolingual English speakers, for dual-language speakers, the flow between both languages is effortless and a joy to read aloud. Cheerful illustrations that utilize an autumnal/Día de los Muertos-inspired palette complete the experience. The length is perfect for a storytime, JJ and I both loved the silly and spooky theme. Overall, this is a fantastic addition to Halloween bookshelves that combines culture, comedy, and kindness, and we highly recommend it! Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

A Christmas Too Big (Colleen Madden)

Hello, friends! Our book today is A Christmas Too Big by Colleen Madden, a heartwarming look at what makes the holidays special.

The day after Thanksgiving, Kerry’s family goes into mega-Christmas-mode. Dad is obsessed with lights, Mom turns into a Christmas-song-jukebox, grandma becomes a cookie-baking tornado, and her little brother hides elves in every corner of the house. The whole neighborhood seems to be overtaken by this oversized, flashing, jingling, headache-inducing version of Christmas… except Mrs. Flores. After assisting her elder neighbor, Kerry is invited in for cocoa and learns about some of Mrs. Flores’s holiday traditions from Mexico The two make crafts, sing songs, and talk of faraway family. As a thank you, Kerry helps Mrs. Flores set up a tablet to video chat with her son’s family in Mexico. While walking home, Kerry decides that it’s fun to explore different kinds of Christmas, and brings home her lessons from Mrs. Flores to share with her own familia.

Wonderful. This sweet holiday story starts with humor and ends with heart, all the while incorporating lovely lessons in kindness, friendship, and cultural appreciation. The story is sure to note that, while Kerry’s family can be overwhelming, there’s nothing wrong with their enthusiasm for Christmas; it only suggests that there are lots of ways to celebrate, and all of them can be special. The Spanish/Spanglish dialogue is another treat, especially for bilingual readers; context clues keep monolingual English speakers from getting lost, and some moments – such as when Mrs. Flores and her son weep tears of joy upon seeing each other over video chat – are universal enough to not need translation. The artwork is perfect, visually reflecting the chaos of the initial scenes, the calm and exuberance of Mrs. Flores’s house, and the festive balance of the two in the final act; details are numerous and often hilarious. Backmatter includes instructions on making the flores de Navidad featured in the story and a very cool visual Spanish vocabulary page. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ and I loved it. This is a great read to start off the holiday season, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

I Love You, Baby Burrito (Angela Dominguez)

Hello, friends! Our book today is I Love You, Baby Burrito by Angela Dominguez, a charming bilingual book for welcoming a family’s newest addition.

“¡Hola, bebé!” begins this adorable read, as the artwork shows a mother and father arriving home with their newborn baby. The parents address their little one directly, introducing the baby to their home, themselves, and fawning over the baby’s little carita, manitas, and deditos. After a quick meal and snuggles, bebé is swaddled for a nap – like a burrito – and wished buenas noches.

Cozy, comforting, and sweet. A universal experience of bringing baby home for the first time is given a very welcome bilingual update through the use of Spanglish in the text; while some Spanish words are followed immediately with English translations, many are not, leaving illustrations to give context clues for non-Spanish speakers. It’s a wonderful way to create a unique narrative for English-Spanish bilingual families without leaving monolinguals stumped, and there’s even a full glossary with pronunciations in the endpapers. Illustrations are bright and rich in color, yet simple and soothing enough for very young eyes, and the affection between the parent and baby characters is heartwarming. The length is perfect for a quick read, and JJ absolutely loved this one – she is learning Spanish in school and loved the seamless integration of the Spanish vocabulary. Overall, this one is a real treat for any reader, especially bilingual Latinx families. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)