7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #504: Featuring Juana Medina

h1 October 9th, 2016 by jules

(Click to enlarge spread)


Here’s a quick post to tell you about Juana Medina’s newest book, Juana & Lucas, on shelves now from Candlewick Press. I read this one at the tail end of this summer—and I read it out loud to my girls—and we enjoyed every moment of it. It’s the story, divided into 11 illustrated and entertaining chapters, of young Juana, who lives in Bogotá, Colombia. She likes drawing; her Mami, her Tía Cris (her “favorite aunt. OF. ALL. AUNTS.”), and her Abue; her friend, Juli; a superhero character named Astroman; Brussels sprouts; the city where she lives, where “everyone speaks ESPAÑOL!”; reading; and her “furry amigo, Lucas.” He is “the smartest and most amazing perro every born,” Juana tells readers. “I can’t think of a better friend than Lucas.” Juana doesn’t like her school uniform and Felipe and Santiago, who laugh at her on the bus. But most of all, she doesn’t like learning English: “I’m certain I don’t either need or want to learn the English,” she says. “I’ve got trouble enough already with learning math.” The worst part of it all? The “TH” sound tickles her tongue and she is “positively terrible” at pronouncing it.

But then one day her Abue tells her that, after she learns English, she can go to Spaceland in Orlando, Florida, U.S. of A. “At Spaceland they only speak English,” he tells her. “No one speaks Spanish. Not even Astroman.” Juana is now more committed to the challenge that is learning this complicated language.

This may be the story of a girl living in South America, but it rings with universal truths to which all children can relate — the young Juana loves her family and friends (and dog), and she even likes some things about school. Her spunk is charming and relatable, and readers who pick up the story will also learn a bit about South America, as well as some Spanish; Medina seamlessly incorporates Spanish terms into the book. She also plays with font size throughout the book to accentuate enthusiasms, and she singles out several of her “likes” and “loves” with double page spreads that break down in an almost diagram-like way precisely why she loves what she does.


(Click to enlarge slightly)


And, as the Kirkus review notes, the “real gift of this book comes from presenting a different point of reference to American children who hear only stories of poverty and need coming out of South America.” I hope there are sequels planned. Good stuff.

Bonus: Here’s a Kirkus Q&A with Medina about the book. (“Exploring storytelling in a second language and trying to tell a sort-of-memory in ways that would be somehow compelling to somebody else was a hard thing for me, first, because English is not my first language. I tried to be very observant of children and how they tell stories and what is important to them, to retain some sort of authentic voice without…becoming didactic, with the bilingual aspect, or overly enthusiastic or silly—just genuinely told through the dramatic lens of a second-, third-grader who is going through this intense experience.”)

JUANA AND LUCAS. Copyright © 2016 by Juana Medina. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

I’m going to do that thing this week that may or may not be annoying to my readers, where I say that it’s so beautiful outside on this crisp Fall day (the day I’m typing this) that all my kicks, one to seven, are This Beautiful Fall Day. And now I’m going to try to go back outside.

I do hope that, in the wake of Hurricane Matthew (and even this never-ending election season), everyone is okay. It is terribly sad the destruction in Haiti.

Do tell me: What are YOUR kicks this week? There are some weeks when we need them more than others, yes?

7 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #504: Featuring Juana Medina”

  1. Ooh, I hope Juana and Lucas gets nominated for the CYBILS. What a story.
    Jules, I know those crisp fall days and get that they can be kicks 1-7.
    Hoping that those in Mathews’ wake are safe and dry.
    My kicks:
    1. Apples, crisp and crunchy.
    2. Friends.
    3. Students.
    4. New research about The Lone Woman of St. Nicholas Island, inspiration for Island of the Blue Island.
    5. Fall rain.
    6. Tree colors.
    7. A successful family library night.
    Have a great week.

  2. Good morning, Imps!

    Rock the Drop is next Friday, October 14th! Anyone may participate anywhere in the world. If you don’t know of a good spot to “drop” a book, simply do a direct donation at a local school, library, hospital, shelter, or so on. I hope you will encourage friends / students / coworkers to take part.

    Hello, Juana and Lucas! Three cheers for the power of storytelling and of true stories.

    Jules: Enjoy the lovely day. 🙂

    Jone: Apples are awesome.

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) Performances
    2) Audition
    3) Rehearsals
    4) Fit
    5) Focus
    6) Friendly
    7) Fierce

  3. Love Juana and Lucas, and look forward to even more books about them.

    Jules – enjoy that crisp fall day – we’re heavily into grey rainy days here.

    Jone – yay for fall apples! (Especially Honeycrisp) And the Lone Woman of St Nicholas Island sounds intriguing.

    LW – busy week for you as usual – love that you are simultaneously performing, rehearsing and auditioning! I’ll share rock the drop on facebook!

    My kicks this week:
    1) Slowly working my way through Luke Cage on Netflix. Love the look, the colors, the music, the vibe, and always love to watch Alfre Woodward and Mike Colter in anything.
    2) SNL’s political humor.
    3) Sam Bee
    4) Work
    5) My crazy-early Friday morning workouts.
    6) Just started reading Mindy Kaling’s “Why Not Me?”
    7) Daisy snuggles in colder weather.
    7.5) Good people who to rise to the occasion, like Usain Bolt donating 10 million dollars to Haiti after Hurricane Matthew.

    Have a wonderful week Imps!


  4. Juana Medina’s work is wonderful!

    Jules: A Beautiful Fall Day is worth its weight in gold!
    Jone: hooray for library night!
    Little Willow: love your four Fs.
    Rachel: SNL, ha! Great for comic relief.

    1. The big one this week: modern medicine that saved my husband’s life (a close call, but we are good now)
    2. Beautiful fall and the glowy red leaves on our maple tree
    3. Happy children
    4. Easy access to healthy foods at local groceries
    5. The healthy muffins my daughter made for her dad (blueberry flaxseed)
    6. Fall break
    7. Quiet time at home together

    What a week!

  5. Jone, I wish I could go to one of your family library nights.

    Fierce Little Willow: As always, break a leg!

    Rachel: I did not know that about Bolt. That is great! … Did you see SNL last night? My favorite is when they do social commentary. The Stranger Things sketch when they say “we are LIVING in the Upside Down” was pretty spot-on. … Is Kaling’s book good?

    Dow: Wow, congrats on kick #1. That is great news but sounds kind of traumatic too, so I hope you’re doing okay (but it sounds like, from your good week, that you are!).

  6. Dow – sending healing thoughts to your husband! Glad it all worked out ok!

    Jules – I did catch SNL – that skit was totally dead-on! I like the book so far, & I liked her first book. It’s like having a conversation with a friend -she’s chatty and nice and very honest about things and never misses a chance to make fun of herself.

  7. Thanks! I might have to get that one from my library.

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