Perico, the parrot, learns to say “Let Me Help!” from little Martita, who’s been saying that a lot lately. When the whole family scrambles to prepare for Cinco de Mayo, Perico knows there must be some way he can help—even if he is just a parrot.
Perico tries to help make delicious tamales. He tries to help craft beautiful paper flowers for the barge his family will take down the San Antonio River. He tries to help the boys practice their mariachi number on the porch. But at every turn Perico is shooed away, until he finally figures out how he can add something special to the Cinco de Mayo fun.
This is the story of every young reader who has been told he or she is too little or too young to help. Angela Domínguez’s vibrantly hued paintings glow with the rich colors of the southwest. Let Me Help! is a joyful read-aloud even the littlest helpers can celebrate year around.
The inspiration for this book comes from several sources that one day combined to give birth to the story.
Parrots were very common pets on my home island of Cuba. My great grandmother always had a parrot perched on a large iron ring in her kitchen. I especially remember a cotorra which she called Cotita. When we moved to the city, the next door neighbors had a parrot, a perico, which would frequently call my father’s name at the most unsuspecting times. He would cry Modesto!!! in a voice that sounded so human it constantly fooled my father into believing some one was calling him. Needless to say he found that parrot most annoying!
I have always loved the city of San Antonio from my very first visit, and have always rejoiced when conferences and in-services gave me the opportunity to visit it.
This book is in a way a homage to San Antonio and to the state of Texas where I have always been most welcome. I have done numerous presentations in Texas, I have taught summer courses both at the University of St. Thomas in Houston and at UT in El Paso, and while I have never resided in Texas I have spent many days of my life in the Lone Star state.
Finally, as a mother of four children and grandmother of nine, I am very much aware of how important it is for little children to be given the opportunity to help.
Celebrations are part of every culture. Families celebrate birthdays and weddings, and society celebrates historical dates and accomplished people. In recognition of the importance of celebrations, Isabel Campoy and I have written the twelve books of the series Stories to Celebrate or Cuentos para celebrar.
Some fiestas develop greater meaning over time. For example, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Battle of Puebla, when on May 5, 1861, the Mexican army defeated the French, who had invaded Mexico. Today, in the United States, Cinco de Mayo celebrates the contributions of all Latinos to life in our society. Several pieces of my work relate to Cinco de Mayo. One of them is the book Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a Mexican Hat Dance or Celebra el Cinco de mayo con un Jarabe Tapatío. This book, as all others in the Celebrate Series is divided in two sections: a fictional narrative and a non-fiction explanation of the celebration.
The story uses the idea of the poem, “Jarabe tapatío” included in Corre al Coro, number 4 of the collection Música amiga. The poem, has been turned into a song by Suni Paz, and appears in the CD of the same name. The Cinco de Mayo celebration is also the setting for the book The Empty Piñata or La piñata vacía from the series Stories the Year ‘Round or Cuentos para todo el año.
Críticas / School Library Journal
Gr 2-5: After escaping from his cage, Perico, a parrot, sees his family preparing for a Cinco de Mayo celebration and wants to be part of the excitement. He volunteers to help make tamales, reciting a line he learned from little Martita: “Let me help! Let me help!” His offers are repeatedly brushed away by family members as they make paper flowers and pan dulce and practice their trumpets. Discouraged, Perico follows the family’s barge and watches as its topmost decoration hits a bridge and falls into the San Antonio River. At that moment, he perches atop the barge and saves the day as only he can. The vibrant and festive colors used throughout invite readers into the celebration, and the images are true to the people they portray. The bilingual text is fluid in both Spanish and English, and the subject is sure to spark interest in the holiday. With this story, Ada reminds children that good intentions are the best help that anyone can offer.–Roberto Zapata, San Antonio Public Library, TX
Los bloguitos / La bloga
Perico learns this phrase from little Martita, who’s been saying it a lot lately. When the whole family scrambles to prepare for Cinco de Mayo, Perico knows there must be some way he can help—even if he is just a parrot.
Perico tries to help make delicious tamales. He tries to help craft beautiful paper flowers for the barge his family will take down the San Antonio River. He tries to help the boys practice their mariachi number on the porch. But at every turn Perico is shooed away, until he finally figures out how he can add something to the Cinco de Mayo fun.
Acclaimed author Alma Flor Ada’s tale is the story of every young reader who has been told he or she is too little or too young to help. Angela Domínguez’s vibrantly hued paintings glow with the rich colors of the southwest. Let Me Help! is a joyful read-aloud, yay!
Alma Flor Ada is an award-winning children’s book author, a gifted translator, and one of the leaders in the field of bilingual education in the United States. Born in Cuba, Alma Flor received her PhD at the Pontifical Catholic University of Lima, Perú, did her post-doctoral research at Harvard University as a Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute, and is a Fulbright Research Scholar. She was named Professor Emerita at the University of San Francisco in 2004. She lives in Northern California’s Marin County.
Angela Domínguez was born in Mexico City and raised in Texas. Growing up, she loved to read and to draw. In 2007, she received her MFA in illustration from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. When she is not drawing, she enjoys the outdoors and drinking coffee. She hopes that her illustrations make people of all ages smile. This is her first picture book, and second children’s book. She lives in Fresno, California.
Look out for Let Me Help! in April. It’ll be out just in time to help you plan your Cinco de Mayo festivities. — http://labloga.blogspot.com/2010/01/quiero-ayudar-let-me-help.html
An INterview with the Illustrator
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