Written and illustrated by Eric Velasquez
Walker & Company, New York, 2010
A very personal narrative about the author’s boyhood memory of spending Christmas vacation at his grandmother’s apartment in El Barrio. This particular Christmas vacation was spent shopping at La Marqueta for the ingredients for Grandmother’s special holiday pasteles and visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the newly purchased painting by Diego Valazquez of Juan de Pareja.
There is a very subtle story line in which the grandmother is totally comfortable in El Barrio, where she knows almost everyone by name. When she takes the author to visit the museum she feels like a fish out of water. She is uncomfortable with the language and there are no familiar faces—until she sees the portrait of Juan de Pareja. She recognizes him from her own school days and speaks to the painting by name.
The story concludes with Grandmother presenting the author with his first set of colored pencils and a sketchbook of his very own for Christmas.
In an afterward the author asserts that seeing the painting of Juan de Pareja, who was a freed slave of African descent, and who became a famous painter in his own right, inspired him to become as artist. It was the first time he had seen a picture of an artist who looked like he could have come from El Barrio.
Words by Lisa Wheeler
Pictures by Mark Siegel
A Richard Jackson Book
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Great language, lots of fun word-play, strong steady meter, and fun, playful illustrations make this a great read-aloud, esp. at Halloween.
No traditional story-line or problem—7 sleeping knights wake up one by one and join in the monster’s ball. When night is done they go back to sleep and dream of next year’s ball.
I’m guessing that she was inspired by the title Boogie Knights—(from the movie Boogie Nights) and started to wonder who these knights would be.