Maya's Blanket/ La manta de Maya

By New York Times

The traditional Yiddish folk tale of the coat that is remade, over the years, into smaller and smaller garments, becomes an ideal bilingual story in the hands of Brown, who found inspiration in her Latino and Jewish heritage. Maya’s special blue and green blanket has purple butterflies sewn by her own Abuelita when Maya was a baby. When it gets frayed around the edges, Abuelita helps her make it into a dress, and then later into a skirt, a scarf, and all the way to a bookmark when Maya is a bigger girl. Eventually she loses the bookmark, but she decides to write a book about the path her old blanket took. Brown ends with a hint of magic, as we see Maya reading the very book in our hands to her own daughter, who sleeps under a blanket that looks just like her mother’s old butterfly-strewn one. The English and Spanish are side by side, and the English text uses the Spanish words for the garments that Maya and Abuelita make (such as falda and cinta). They are repeated again and again in Spanish as the story moves forward, a feature of the Yiddish tale that makes a helpful trick for little English speakers just learning Spanish. Diaz’s jewel-toned mixed-media illustrations reward close attention, with clever details and a rich folkloric feel, all overlaid with a dreamy patina that makes Maya’s world seem both grounded in reality and quietly magical.