Book: Floating on Mama’s Song
Author: Laura Lacamara
Illustrator: Yuyi Morales
Source: Local Library
On her seventh birthday, Anita discovers that her mother has a new and amazing gift: when she sings, she and everyone around her can float up in the air! Anita floats happily on her mother’s song until Abuelita brings them back to earth with a stern reprimand. Mama promises never to sing again, but it makes her sadder and sadder. Finally, Anita discovers a family secret that could free their song again.
Underneath the lyrical and fanciful story, there’s a very real theme about women who force themselves and their daughters into a particular mold. “What will the neighbors think?” Abuelita asks, bringing her daughter and granddaughter down to earth (literally). But she’s not really the villain, she’s merely applying her own bad experience with the family gift.
I make no secret of my devotion to Yuyi Morales. I am a Morales fangirl and it’s gotten so I can spot her artwork across the library. With rich colors, swirling lines, and sweet details (my favorite are the animal-shaped clouds in the spread where Anita visits the healer), there’s really nobody else who could have illustrated this story.
This bilingual story is pretty long to use in storytimes, but it would work for a classroom readaloud or reading together with a child, especially since you get the chance to discuss the emotions and motivations of the adult characters.