30 Sep / Maya’s Blanket | La manta de Maya by Monica Brown, illustrated by David Diaz, translated by Adriana Domínguez
We’re right in the middle of National Hispanic Heritage Month – now through October 15. Do you know where your books are?
If you’re looking for a delightful, heart-tugging, bilingual even (!) picture book, this is it! Monica Brown, creator of the rollicking Marisol McDonald series, introduces Maya Morales and her “special manta [blanket] that she loved very much.” Hand made with great care and even more love by her grandmother, the manta kept Maya cozy and warm – and magically kept away any bad dreams – ever since she was a baby. Well used every night, with time, “Maya’s manta became frayed around the edges.”
To hold on to the magic, Maya and her Abuelita (Grandma) transformed the blanket into a dress. When the spilled red punch refused to come out, Maya and Abuelita turned the dress into a skirt, which then became too short as Maya “grew and stretched toward the sky.” But the magic never stops, because Maya and Abuelita turn the skirt that was a dress that was a blanket into something else wonderful again and again and again.
All the many incarnations eventually become the pages of a book, a fairy tale to be shared from generation to generation. Oh, the stories waiting to be told …
In her ending “Author’s Note,” Brown explains how her latest title celebrates both her Jewish and Latina heritage: Blanket “was inspired by the traditional Yiddish folk song Ho Ikh Mir a Mantl” (“I Had a Little Coat”), about an old overcoat that was continually repurposed as smaller and smaller items.” That practice of recycling and reusing favorite objects is a creative process Brown encourages her readers: “If they can’t be reused in some kind of craft project, then recycle them using your imagination. Create a poem, a song, or even … your own book!”
With Caldecott Medal-ed artist David Diaz’s magnificent spreads, Brown’s multi-generational story becomes an explosion of colorful motion that brings together family and friends. Diaz enhances each page beyond the words – English on the left, Spanish on the right – with loving pets, playful buddies, changing seasons, a soccer victory, an addiction to books, a talent for drawing, and so much more. The final few pages are quite the tribute to clever meta-humor, as well.
Blanket weather is here: cuddle up with your favorite little ones and spread manta magic all around.