Call me a writer, but I'm really a wizard. Imagination is my "abracadabra,"just watch what I pull out of my hat!
As a child, my favorite book was "The Little Engine That Could." I pumped my fists, chugging to the beat of "I think I can...I think I can."
I grew up believing hard work, confidence and perseverance could make the impossible, possible.
As an adult, I still root for the underdog. The characters in my books face problems, stare them down, and win.
In this book, a small band of brave soldiers defeats a stronger, better equipped army. I wrote this book because I want children to strive; lasso that rainbow, stuff a pocket with falling stars, swallow the sun in a single bite.
Today, I'm still like that little engine;puffing around the bend...
My message to children is the motto of Cinco de mayo:
Si, se puede - Yes, it can be done!
Dream big...reach high...live strong!
Levy's central text combines a celebration of Cinco de Mayo with a brief recounting of the date's significance: the Mexican army's victory in 1862 over an invading French force. The celebration includes a parade, with Aztec elements featured prominently, a performance of mariachi music, a family meal, dancing and the breaking of the pinata, along with Abuelito(Grandpa) telling the story of the Battle of Puebla. But this is an activity book too. After her main narrative, Levy repeats several of the story's illustrations, leaving out an important element in each and asking the young reader to point out what's missing. The final pages include instructions in making a maraca and a serape, and a slightly longer recounting of the history of the Battle of Puebla. The text is in both English and Spanish throughout, and Lopez's illustrations are bright, lovely and full of details- the Aztec eagle and snake(now part of Mexico's flag), the buttons on the sleeves of the mariachi players' jackets, the multicolored hems of the dancers' skirts.
****Perfectly targeted at young listeners and readers who may have been celebrating Mexico's favorite national holiday without knowing why."
www.kirkusreviews.com January l5, 2007
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
A family demonstrates how it celebrates Cinco de Mayo, as Mama takes part in a parade, Papa plays in a mariachi band, and Abuelito retells the story of the battle of Puebla, which took place on May 5, l862, between the French and Mexican armies, and how Mexico triumphed. Levy provides brief information about the history and the cultural traditions that surround the holdiay. The simple text appears in both English and Spanish. Lopez's brightly colored illustrations add to the festive air of the narrative, and the family's excitement is palpable. The traditional dresses, costumes, and hair styles all enhance the book's authenticity. Appended are craft activities and reproductions of illustrations from the story with items missing(children are aksed to identify them).
Presented in an appealing and accesible manner, this offering will serve its audience well.
--Susan E. Murray, Glendale Public Library, AZ.PAPER TIGER REVIEW
This lively, bilingual book with bright and festive oil pastel illustrations tells the true story of Cinco de Mayo and explains the customs and symbolism surrounding it in a way that children and adults will both appreciate. Cinco the Mayo, the Fifth of May, is not, as many believe, Mexican Independence Day. This patriotic holiday actually commemorates the Battle of Puebla on May 5, l982, in which the Mexican army, fighting alongside Zacapoaxtla and Xochiapulco Indians, defeated the larger and better equipped French Army. Though this battle was a surprise victory, Mexico lost the war, remaining under French occupation until l866. A detailed historical note at the end of the book explains all this, adding that historians believe Cinco de Mayo was celebrated even during the years of French occupation, characterizing the can-do spirit of Mexcian culture embodied in the popular phrase 'Si, se puede!', or 'Yes, We can!'
Author Janice Levy, a former ESL teacher and the author of eight other picutre books including "The Spirit of Tio Fernando:A Day of the Dead Story" - also in a bilingual format, understands the importance of making second languages easily accessible and has given young readers a manageable format. With just a few sentences on each page and the enticing illustrations by Loretta Lopez, both children and adults can easily grasp and absorb the translations. The spirit of Tio Fernando has sold more than 50,000 copies and has been used by teachers and librarians across the country for EXL and cultural education. Celebrate! It's Cinco de Mayo is likely to follow in its footsteps.
This book also describes the festivities and customs of Cinco de Mayo for the uninitated, including parades, mariachi music, special foods, pinatas, dancing and more. Games and activities complete the book, helping to sharpen chldren's comprehension skills and expand their experience through creativity and imagination.
Levy has given us another fun, informative and educational book that is reason in itself for celebration.
--Abigail Sawyer/May 2007Looking Glass Children's Book Review
Marya Jansen-Gruber, www.lookingglassreview.com
It's Cinco de Mayo and it's time to celebrate. Mama is walking in the parade and Papa is playing in the mariachi band. Abuelita is making a special meal while Abuelito tells the story of the Cinco de Mayo and why we celebrate this special day. He explains how long ago the Emperor of France got angry with Mexico and sent his army to take it over. On May fifth, l862, there was a battle in Puebla and though the Mexicans were out numbered and out gunned they still managed to prevail and to drive back the French soldiers. That is why Mexcians and many of their friends celebrate May fifth today.
With a simple bilingual text and bright vibrant illustrations the author helps young children learn the basic story about Cinco de Mayo. At the back of the book there is an angaging activity section which encourages children to look at the pictures and to find what is missing from them. There is also a craft.