Islandborn By Junot Díaz, Illustrated By Leo Espinosa (2018) – hardcover
Recommended ages: 3 to 9
Reading Level: Lexile AD570L
This is such a beautiful story of a young girl who discovers the magic and power of memories to connect to her heritage. Lola’s teacher asks the students to draw pictures of the country they are originally from, but Lola doesn’t remember anything about her homeland, the Dominican Republic, colloquially called “The Island.” She wants to remember but she was too young when her family emigrated. She then gets inspired to draw from the memories of her family and friends in the neighborhood, jotting down notes and drawings in her notebook. Leo Espinosa’s award-winning illustrations are absolutely stunning and will engage children and adults alike. I love Lola’s beautiful brown face on the cover art!
Take-away message: Like Lola’s abuela says, “Just because you don’t remember a place doesn’t mean it’s not in you.” Islandborn offers the perfect lesson for any child who feels disconnected from their heritage.
TAGS: female lead, Dominican, Latinx, family, Spanish edition, hardcover
About the Author:
Junot Díaz was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey. He is author of the critically acclaimed Drown; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and This is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and PEN/O. Henry Award. A graduate of Rutgers College, Diaz is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review, and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at MIT.