So we purr, cara cara, and we glide, taka taka, and we zoom, zoom, ZOOM!
Together, a boy and his parents drive to the city of Havana, Cuba, in their old family car. Along the way, they experience the sights and sounds of the streets―neighbors talking, musicians performing, and beautiful, colorful cars putt-putting and bumpety-bumping along. In the end, though, it’s their old car, Cara Cara, that the boy loves best. A joyful celebration of the Cuban people and their resourceful innovation.
ALSC Notable Book
PreS-Gr 2—Accompanied by the vibrant onomatopoeia of an old rebuilt car, a brown-skinned boy travels with his family from their village in Cuba to the capital city, Havana, to celebrate the "zero-year birthday" of his cousin. The focus of this colorful picture book is on the car (nicknamed "Cara Cara"), one of Cuba''s many mid-20th-century American vehicles maintained through constant tinkering. "Ours is so tired that she just chatters like a busy chicken—cara cara, cara cara, cluck, cluck, cluck." Award-winning poet Engle transports readers to Cuba through her lively verse, and Curato (author/illustrator of the "Little Elliot" series) does the same with his nearly photorealistic illustrations rendered in pencil, with digital color bringing out the bright tones of the tropics. Each spread includes endless detail, from the clothes hanging on the clothesline in the boy''s backyard to Havana''s beautiful architecture. The stars of the book, of course, are the 1950s cars, which Curato studied on a research trip to Cuba and depicts precisely in all their mixed-and-matched glory. While younger readers will simply enjoy the journey, older children may desire more information about the context of the story, some of which can be found in the author''s and illustrator''s notes. VERDICT A fun addition to the ever-popular genre of transportation picture books—this one with a unique perspective and message of perseverance.—Clara Hendricks, Cambridge Public Library, MA
"Engle and Curato provide a child''s view of Cuba that is extremely accessible and as striking as it is unforgettable. A vibrant snapshot of modern Cuba, full of rich, sensory detail." ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review, on All the Way to Havana
" He and Engle chronicle Cara Cara’s journey in loving detail as the family moves along the coast and into bustling city streets, giving readers glimpses into daily Cuban lives―newlyweds in a Dodge convertible, laundry hanging from balconies as “a sea breeze sings.” It’s a wonderful introduction to America’s very nearby neighbor." ―Publishers Weekly, starred review, on All the Way to Havana
"Engle’s tone is upbeat throughout: she highlights modest country vistas, picturesque contemporary Havana, busy people going about their daily chores, and the profusion of noisy vintage cars. Curato’s vibrant pencil and digital illustrations depict iconic images of Cuba―small farms, city neighborhoods, and government buildings―all in photographic detail. . . A lyrical and beautiful offering that should help to humanize views of this island nation." ―Booklist, starred review, on All the Way to Havana
"A fun addition to the ever-popular genre of transportation picture books―this one with a unique perspective and message of perseverance." ―School Library Journal, starred review, on All the Way to Havana
"Engle and Curato collaborate on this captivating road trip, with the steady pulse of Engle’s text (prosy on the page, labeled as poetry in the author’s note) punctuated by taka takas, roars, growls, whines, and putt putts of the vehicles, and Curato’s illustrations gliding smoothly from country- to city-scapes, never far from the edge of the sea. . . catnip for the Cruise Night crowd and for any kid who dreams of one day owning a classic set of wheels." ―The Bulletin on All the Way to Havana
"Engle’s use of onomatopoeia, at times replacing the sound of the car with animal sounds (honks, roars, growls, whines), gives a sense of the modern-day blend of rural and city life . . . The mixed-media illustrations capture the brilliant colors and scenic beauty of the island―both landscape and cityscape―as well as the multiracial makeup of its people." ―The Horn Book on All the Way to Havana
Drum Dream Girl:
"A beautiful account of a young girl''s bravery and her important contribution toward gender equality in the creative arts." ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"The heroine’s tenacity in the face of naysayers will inspire all dreamers." ―School Library Journal, starred review
Little Elliot, Big City:
"a terrific emerging talent, with gorgeously rendered images that bring to mind the moodiness of Chris Van Allsburg and the sweetness of William Joyce." ―Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Curato, a debut author and illustrator, tucks several gentle messages into one simple story that''s perfect for the age group. It is, however, his almost cinematic artwork that''s the real showstopper." ―Booklist, starred review
Margarita Engle is a Cuban American poet, novelist, and journalist whose work has been published in many countries. She is the author of young adult nonfiction books and novels in verse including
The Surrender Tree, a Newbery Honor Book,
The Poet Slave of Cuba,
The Firefly Letters, and
Tropical Secrets. She lives in northern California.
Mike Curato is the award-winning author and illustrator of the Little Elliot
series and the graphic novel
Flamer, and has illustrated a number of other books for children, including
What If… (by Samantha Berger),
Worm Loves Worm, and
All the Way to Havana.