My husband and I have dreamed for years of visiting Cuba. High on our list of things to see are the classic 1950’s automobiles that continue to rule the roads. So, I was thrilled to read
All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Mike Curato.
The story begins as we are introduced to a young boy excitedly preparing to drive from the countryside to Havana to meet his new baby cousin and celebrate his “zero-year birthday.” They will drive in Cara Cara, the family’s old blue Chevy. Unfortunately, Cara Cara doesn’t seem up for the trip but that doesn’t stop Papa. Together, they work to figure out what is wrong under the hood.
Finally, Cara Cara is ready to go and the car fills with family and friends who pack in for the drive. Readers are treated to beautiful images of the Cuban countryside, Havana, and the fabulous vintage automobiles that travel the roads.
Margarita’s text comes to life with the songs of the automobiles and the boy’s observations as he experiences the sights of Cuba. This is a wonderful book to read aloud to children who will love repeating the sounds of the automobiles as they follow the boy’s journey and learn how these cars are cared for, cherished, and passed down through generations.
All the Way to Havana is a celebration of the creativity and resourcefulness of the Cuban people. It stands out not only because it is one of the few picture books about Cuba, but because it shows the diversity of the Cuban population and how they persevere and work together in spite of hardship. The text and illustrations do not gloss over the poverty that Cuban’s experience and will give older readers a glimpse of the reality that Cubans face.
The author and illustrator notes explain the story behind the book which will interest older readers. To see a trailer of All the Way to Havana and read a wonderful interview with author and US Poet Laureate, Margarita Engle and illustrator, Mike Curvato click on this post at All the Wonders.
All the Way to Havana will be released on August 29th by Henry Holt and Company.
(I reviewed an advance readers’s edition)