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Annotation: Lola was just a baby when her family left the island; so when she has to draw it for a school assignment, she asks her family, friends, and neighbors about their memories of her homeland.
Catalog Number: #150774
Format: Perma-Bound from Publisher's Hardcover
Publisher: Dial
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Illustrator: Espinosa, Leo,
Pages: 48
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-7352-2986-4 Perma-Bound: 0-605-99674-1
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-7352-2986-0 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-99674-8
Dewey: E
LCCN: 2017006468
Dimensions: 28 cm.
Language: English
Kirkus Reviews
A young girl's homework assignment unravels the history and beauty of her homeland.Lola and her classmates are assigned to draw pictures of their respective origin countries. With excitement, the others begin sharing what they will draw: pyramids, a long canal, a mongoose. Lola, concerned, doesn't remember what life was like on the Island, and so she recruits her whole neighborhood. There is Leticia, her cousin; Mrs. Bernard, who sells the crispy empanadas; Leticia's brother Jhonathan, a barber; her mother; her abuela; and their gruff building superintendent. With every description, Lola learns something new: about the Island's large bats, mangoes, colorful people, music and dancing everywhere, the beaches and sea life, and devastating hurricanes. Espinosa's fine, vibrant illustrations dress the story in colorful cacophony and play with texture (hair especially) as Lola conjures images of her homeland. While the story does not identify the Island by name, readers familiar with Díaz's repertoire will instantly identify it as the Dominican Republic, a conclusion that's supported when the super recalls the Monster (Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo), and sharp-eyed readers should look at the magnets on Lola's refrigerator. Lola, Teresa Mlawer's translation, is just as poignant as the original.Together, Díaz and Espinosa present an imaginative, purposeful narrative about identity and belonging. (Picture book. 5-8)
Publishers Weekly
From its very first sentence, this first picture book from Díaz (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao) is both beautifully nuanced and instantly comprehensible: -Every kid in Lola-s school was from somewhere else.- Lola is from a place that she calls the Island, which adult readers will recognize as the author-s native Dominican Republic, but she left as a baby. When her teacher asks everyone to draw a picture of -the country you were originally from, your first country,- Lola, who doesn-t remember the Island herself, embarks on a quest through her tight-knit city neighborhood to collect memories. Many recall the Island with fondness: nonstop music, mangoes so sweet -they make you want to cry,- colors of every kind. -Even the people are like a rainbow,- says one. But Lola also hears stories of fear, hardship, and sadness; the super in her building recalls a reign of terror by what he calls -the Monster- (dictator Rafael Trujillo) and the courage it took to resist. As the story moves between past and present, the Island and -the North,- and the microworlds of classroom, streets, and home, the sweep of experience and emotion becomes unmistakably novelistic. Reminiscence, reality, and Lola-s imagination similarly merge in Espinosa-s effervescent, mural-like drawings (which eventually become the work Lola presents to her class): bats soar through the air on blanket wings, and a barbershop customer tears up while clutching a translucent mango. With his tenacious, curious heroine and a voice that-s chatty, passionate, wise, and loving, Díaz entices readers to think about a fundamental human question: what does it mean to belong? Lola realizes it means both being cherished by those around her and taking ownership of their collective memory. -Even if I-d never set foot on the Island,- she tells the class, -it doesn-t matter: The Island is me.- Ages 5-8. Agent: Nicole Aragi, Aragi Inc. (Mar.)

School Library Journal Starred Review
DíAZ, Junot . Lola . tr. from English by Teresa Mlawer. ISBN 9780525552819 . ea vol: illus. by Leo Espinosa. 48p. Dial . Mar. 2018. Tr $17.99. K-Gr 3 When Ms. Obi asks her students to draw a picture of the country they are originally from, the children are excited. All except for Lola, "What if you left before you could start remembering?" As Lola talks to some of her neighbors from the Island to draw from their memories, she learns of bats as big as blankets; a love of music and dancing; coconut water and sweet mangoes. And an island where "Even the people are like a rainbowevery shade ever made." With a place so beautiful, Lola wonders, why did people leave? Reluctantly, Mr. Mir, the building superintendent, tells her of a Monster that fell upon their Island and did as he pleased for 30 years. Though never mentioned by name, the country in question is the Dominican Republic. The Monster refers to the dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo. Lola learns from her assignment that "Just because you don't remember a place doesn't mean it's not in you." Espinosa's gloriously vibrant mixed-media illustrations portray a thriving community living under the shadow of the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan. As Lola learns more about her Island, the illustrations cleverly incorporate a plethora of tropical plants and color, bringing to life both Lola's neighborhood and La Isla. Lola , a Spanish language edition, is ably translated by Mlawer and publishes simultaneously. VERDICT A sensitive and beautiful story of culture, identity, and belonginga superb picture book outing for Díaz and one to be shared broadly in a variety of settings. Lucia Acosta, Children's Literature Specialist, Princeton, NJ
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Lola attends a school in which the majority of students, whose skin tones range from tan to deep brown, are "from somewhere else." When the teacher instructs her class to draw a picture of what each child's original country looks like, the young girl is stymied. She was an infant when her family immigrated to the U.S. and has no memories of her birthplace. As Lola and her cousin walk home through their neighborhood, they discover that almost everyone is happy to share their memories of "the Island." The beaches, the music, the fruits, and the colors come alive for the youngster and create a feeling of pride in her heritage. Along with all the happy memories are remembrances of struggles after a hurricane and a defeated "monster," which adults may recognize as a former dictator. The exuberant, brightly colored illustrations are filled with a child's interpretation of the memories and fill the double-page spreads with details to pore over. This important title will be enjoyed by young children and may spark many significant discussions.
Word Count: 2,017
Reading Level: 3.4
Interest Level: 1-4
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.4 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 194007 / grade: Lower Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:2.4 / points:3.0 / quiz:Q76945
Lexile: AD600L
Guided Reading Level: V
Fountas & Pinnell: V

From New York Times bestseller and Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz comes a debut picture book about the magic of memory and the infinite power of the imagination.

A 2019 Pura Belpré Honor Book for Illustration
Every kid in Lola's school was from somewhere else.
Hers was a school of faraway places.
So when Lola's teacher asks the students to draw a picture of where their families immigrated from, all the kids are excited. Except Lola. She can't remember The Island—she left when she was just a baby. But with the help of her family and friends, and their memories—joyous, fantastical, heartbreaking, and frightening—Lola's imagination takes her on an extraordinary journey back to The Island.  As she draws closer to the heart of her family's story, Lola comes to understand the truth of her abuela's words: “Just because you don't remember a place doesn't mean it's not in you.”
Gloriously illustrated and lyrically written, Islandborn is a celebration of creativity, diversity, and our imagination's boundless ability to connect us—to our families, to our past and to ourselves.

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