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Abuelito Eats With His Fingers

Eakin Press
ISBN 1-57168-177-9 $14.95
Visit or 1-512-2881771 or contact author at for autographed copies.

“An interesting addition to inter-generational collections! According to Tina, her grandfather is different. Abuelito doesn’t speak English, his hands are rough and gnarled from cutting sugar cane, and he doesn’t drive. And horrors, he eats with his fingers. However, when the mother unexpectedly leaves the two alone one afternoon, Tina’s attitude changes. They look at old family photographs, find they share a talent for drawing; they make tortillas from scratch. By the day’s end, granddaughter and grandfather have started on a journey of friendship!”

--School Library Journal

“Sometimes grandparents can seem very different from a child’s perspective. This book addresses this problem with finesse and day Tina is left with her grandpa while her mother runs some errands. Much to her surprise, she enjoys the time spent with her grandpa and even learns to have fun eating with her fingers!” 

--Boston Sunday Herald, Jennifer Galvin


“Features positive portrayal of Hispanic children...strong images can make Hispanic and Latin American audiences feel admired and respected while teaching non-Hispanic and non-Latin American audiences to appreciate these communities.”

--Rutgers, New Jersey State University,
Children's Literature Page


“Delightful to read! I am a teacher and Abuelito Eats With His Fingers is part of my curriculum in teaching adults in both my Social Studies Methods and Language Arts Methods Classes. My husband even read this book to his 96 year old abuelito! Using two languages is a wonderful way to instill the value of language to students. A great pleasure sharing your multicultural book!” 

-- C. Ramirez, Arizona

“This abuelito doesn't speak English, just Spanish. He doesn't know how to drive, and his house is filled with candles and little statues of santos or saints. His granddaughter, Tina, thinks Abuelito's house is spooky, and she doesn't like to visit him...but one afternoon she discovers that Abuelito loves to draw, just like she does. Abuelito also knows how to cook. He shows Tina how to make tortillas, and while they pound the dough, he teaches her to count in Spanish: "Uno, dos, tres." Then they fry the tortillas, dip them in salsa, and eat them, with their fingers, of course! By the time her mother gets back, Tina doesn't want to leave. Layne Johnson' s warm illustrations -especially the pictures of sweet Abuelito- will make you wish you could spend an afternoon there, too. But you don't need an abuelito to enjoy Abuelito Eats With His Fingers. More than anything, Janice Levy's story is about becoming friends with someone different than you.” 

--Julia Durango, You Say Grandpa...We Say Abuelito, The Daily Times, Ottawa, Illinois

ABUELITO EATS WITH HIS FINGERS is the story of a girl who is uncomfortable around her grandfather, who speaks only Spanish and has ways strange to her. When Cristina’s mother leaves her alone with Abuelito, she begins to see the value of his ways and his love.
ABUELITO is a story that flows. It seems as if Levy is telling us a personal story, which indeed she may be judging from the author’s note. The voice in the book is Cristina’s and is presented in a way that is believable for a young girl. She is wary of Abuelito at first, even a little mean in the way that children are when she says, “I don’t like to look at him,” and goes on to describe what she sees as wrong with him. The way he keeps his house, including the santos and holy candles, are “spooky” to her. When Cristina mentions her friend Hope’s grandfather, who “has a swimming pool in his living room. He owns a red Corvette,” the reader begins to see what Abuelito is up against. This seems to be what Cristina wants her abuelo to be instead.
When her mother leaves, Cristina and Abuelito connect over her abuelita’s pearls, and memories of her. There is a moment when Cristina sees the pain Abuelito feels at the loss of her abuela. Abuelito introduces Cristina to los santos and leads her in a prayer. When they get hungry, Abuelito shows Cristina how to make tortillas and eat them with queso and salsa. By the end of the story, Cristina realizes that her abuelo loves her, and she begins to see him as he is and less as he looks through others’ critical eyes.
The Spanish words in ABUELITO EATS WITH HIS FINGERS are presented in a way that blend in naturally with the text. They are mostly in dialogue, and set off by italics. For the most part, the words are defined contextually, so the reader naturally understands their meaning without being told specifically. This presentation allows the story to unfold without artificiality. Readers are given a sense of Abuelito’s culture by his religious artifacts, his language, and his food. It is also revealed that Abuelito once cut sugar cane with his “bumpy” knuckles and “rough fingers.”
The illustrations join with the story seamlessly. They add depth and warmth to the images from the text. The first picture of Abuelito with toilet paper on his cut shows his warmth even as Cristina criticizes in the text. Throughout the illustrations, the colorful walls and burning candles in the background add to the authenticity of the story. The reader feels the joy as Cristina tries on the pearls and the sadness when Abuelito is shown with his face in his hands, wedding ring still on his finger. On one double page spread, as Abuelito and Cristina look down on their drawings, the reader sees a similarity in the chanklas they wear on their feet: Abuelito’s big flip-flops, Cristina’s small pink ones. Each page of text has a small detail illustration showing an item such as a banana, sugar cane, a candle, the cat, and chalk. This is just one more element that makes the believable as well as memorable." Melanie Machos/librarian/Texas Woman's University

“A charming picture book! Sweet and filled with vibrant illustrations. Makes a good read-aloud for any child!” 

--San Antonio Express News


“Look what’s new for kids! A grandfather gives his granddaughter a sketch pad, a special necklace, and, best of all, a grandfather’s love.” 

--Eakin Press

“A GREAT KID'S BOOK: Abuelito Eats With His Fingers, by Janice Levy, is the story of Tina, a little girl who doesn't like to visit her grandfather because she thinks he is rather strange. One day though, Tina's mother leaves her to spend an entire day with her 'Abuelito'. Through the course of this fun-filled day 'Abuelito' teaches her a bit about her Hispanic culture by drawing pictures with her, praying with her, teaching her how to make tortillas and best of all, giving her a pearl necklace that used to belong to her grandmother. Despite the language barrier that separates Tina and 'Abuelito' they are able to share their love, which has no language and Tina realizes how lucky she is to have her 'Abuelito'.

One thing I really like about this book was how the characters didn't say much to each other, but their affection towards each other was shown through their actions. This book was really enjoyable and I found the illustrations along with it to be simple, yet sentimental.

I would recommend Abuelito Eats With His Fingers to any adult or any child that is looking for either entertainment or a reminder of that one grandparent who is the most embarrassing but the most fun, as well.” 

--LatinaMami, Lauren Gonzales