BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Papa Gave Me a Stick by Janice Levy, illustrated by Simone Shin

Papa Gave Me a Stick by Janice Levy on BookDragonWhen Antonio goes to hear a mariachi band with his family, he can hardly take his eyes off the guitars. But his request for a guitarra is met with a frown as his Papa explains that he has “no money for such things.” All he can offer is a stick (and maybe a wink).

Antonio’s disappointment is palpable: “‘What good is this?'” he comments as he throws down the stick, kicking it as he walks away in a huff. But the stick happens to help a cold dog get warmer when Antonio pokes at a dying fire. The dog gratefully drops a warm tortilla onto Antonio’s lap … alas, that doesn’t do much to lift Antonio’s gloom, but with it, he feeds a “weeping bird” who leaves him a string in thanks. What might seem useless to Antonio provides saving grace for others: the bird’s string proves useful for a donkey in pain, and so on and so on. Each helpful moment results in a surprising gift, until somehow Antonio earns exactly what he dreams of most.

Author Janice Levy tells a delightful tale about the rewards of random acts of kindness. She adds simple Spanish words and phrases (we’re listening to mariachi here), which she seamlessly repeats throughout to build familiarity (we’re quite the multi-culti audience, after all). Her clever humor at book’s end is guaranteed to make readers smile and more.

Artist Simone Shin’s whimsically stylized art enhances Levy’s words with just the right expressions, especially on young Antonio’s face, as he goes from wonder to discouragement to concern to fear to relief to joy and everything in between. His interaction with the donkey is especially adorable. The proud musicians, the grateful pup, the frightened cat, the annoyed bride, the concerned little girl peeping out just above the pew – Shin charmingly creates quite the memorable community across the pages that eventually lead to Antonio’s grand reward.

And yes, kindness can be this easy, even in moments of the greatest frustration. Perfect lesson for us all!

Readers: Children

Published: 2015


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