- Good-bye, Havana! Hola, New York!
Gabriella wakes up one morning in her Cuban home and learns from her grandparents that she is to leave Havana that afternoon to emigrate to New York. In the days that follow, Gabriella reunites with her parents (who have been scoping out living conditions in New York), arrives at her new home in the Bronx, and [End Page 74] begins attending school. While the first few days at her new school are terrifying, Gabriella rapidly settles into the daily routine, learning English words, making friends, and trying out new American foods in the cafeteria. The story is based on the author’s own childhood experience, and its authenticity gives it useful authority; early immigration is also an experience that many children have heard about from parents or relatives, and seeing a fellow youngster undergoing the process will help fill in the picture. The text, though, is flat in tone, laden with retrospective adult viewpoint masquerading as a child’s point of view; much of the factual info in the story is delivered awkwardly (Gabriella had heard about “something called a revolution” and “something called the Resistance”) and without sufficient context. Raúl Colón’s familiar watercolor and colored pencil compositions are wrought with abundant texture, both from the grainy paper upon which they are rendered and his scratchboard-like detailing. The figures are individualized and expressive, and the golden-toned palette imbues the illustrations with a vintage sensibility. In addition to the author’s note, a glossary of Spanish words is included.