Maya's Blanket/ La manta de Maya

By Kirkus Reviews

A familiar tale crosses cultures with almost magical ease. The story is based on the well-known Jewish folk tale in which an old, worn coat is turned into a jacket, then a vest, then a tie, here given a warm, Latino spin. Not only does Brown's text alternate passages in English with sections in Spanish translated by Domínguez, but on some pages, nearly every sentence is written in two languages: "Maya made her manta into a vestido that she loved very much." The effect isn't subtle, and at first, every paragraph feels like a vocabulary lesson. But as the sentences get longer, the language becomes hypnotic. As Maya's blanket is recut and resewn, the words begin to sound like an incantation: "So with her own two hands and Abuelita's help, Maya made her rebozo that was her falda that was her vestido that was her manta into a bufanda that she loved very much." It sounds like a magic spell to preserve the garment for all time. Sometimes spells work: Maya turns the blanket into a story, the same picture book that is in readers' hands. Diaz's beautiful, mixed-media illustrations feel like another sort of magic. The moon looks like a pomegranate. A spinning jump rope looks like water shooting from a fountain. As the book ends, Maya's daughter is sleeping under "her own special, magical manta." Readers may be eager to tell their own versions of the story—that's how magic works.