Floating on Mama's Song - Reviews

starPublishers Weekly - Starred review:
Lacámara debuts with a whimsical bilingual tale of a family whose love of music takes a magical turn when the narrator, Anita, turns seven. Anita arrives home to find her mother singing: nothing unusual there, except that she's floating in the air while doing so. Mother and daughter are delighted, but Anita's grandmother is displeased, as are the neighbors. Promising not to sing breaks Anita's mother's spirit, and it's up to Anita to set things right. Morales's luminous paintings are a vision, rife with sly characterizations, warm familial bonds, and the joy that music brings.

The plump forms in Morales’ illustrations paradoxically float as lightly as the titular song in this bilingual English-Spanish picture book. Glowing colors, further brightened by golden pastel highlights, work along with gently curved hills, tree branches, and postures to carry the story forward, complementing its magic realism. On Anita’s seventh birthday, she comes home to find her mother literally floating on air as she sings. “It’s been happening all day, Anita, every time I sing. Singing makes me so happy,” Mama explains. The happy music also lifts the spirits, and bodies, of those who hear Mama—which leads, alas, to trouble when local animals fly from their owners. Scolded by Anita’s abuelita, Mama stops singing, but the resulting sadness is too much for the little girl to bear. Seeking a cure, she discovers the family secret. The story flows smoothly, with the English prose hovering over the Spanish and easing along this pleasant folklorish collaboration from debut author Lacámara and the Pura Belpré Award–winning Morales.

Kirkus Reviews:
When Anita turns seven, something magical happens—her mother’s singing makes listeners float. But societal pressure soon quiets Mama, making her spirit sick. To help her mother, Anita unlocks a key to her grandmother’s past, allowing the family to once again rise in song. Morales’s lyrical illustrations, done in a warm, soothing palette, work well with the dual-language text. Compositionally they are flowing, organic and rounded; but the most intriguing aspect of the artwork is the way the Pura Belpré winner draws with the computer, using it to successfully execute her vision. Textures are created and colors are applied to appear like a pastel, but instead of being muted and muddled, she uses digital collage to create the hard edges that define the boundaries between the organic shapes. In one tender spread, Anita braids Mama’s hair, while her baby brother blows bubbles, delicately expressing Mama’s sadness while capturing the children’s loving, innocent gestures. Together, author and illustrator offer a story filled with whimsy and humor about the power of voice and family.

Library Journal:
Anita comes home from school on her seventh birthday to find her mother singing opera and floating in the air. Outside, her dog, Tito, is also floating. "'It's been happening all day, every time I sing!'" says Mama. Then Anita realizes that everyone who hears the music floats, too. But, when some nosy neighbors complain that their pig, goat, and cow are floating, Grandma orders her daughter to stop singing. Mama grows sad, the cow won't give milk, the pig won't eat, and the goat won't sleep. Everyone is miserable. An old picture with a cow stuck in a mango tree helps Anita, Grandma, and Mama discover the special gift that all the women in the family have. Lacámara's debut weaves together a stirring Caribbean tale inspired by her Cuban roots and her mother's opera singing. Both the English and Spanish versions of the story are fun and easy to read, and also well translated. The fusion of Morales's collage illustrations, with bright energetic colors, large warm brown characters, and real photographs interspersed with digitally enhanced foliage, will help children's imaginations take flight. A grand addition to most bilingual collections.

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