Tia Isa Wants a Car by Meg Medina and illustrated by Claude Munoz (Candlewick, 2011) is one I enjoyed but I never expected my 4-year-old son to love it as much as he did. It quickly became a favorite for us.
As the title suggests, Tia Isa really wants her own car to be able to go to the beach (and she knows just what kind of car she wants) but with the need to send money back to family far away, there just isn’t a way she can see to get a car. Her niece decides to help out, by finding ways in their community in which she can help earn the money.
I loved the emphasis on working toward a goal and the need for hard work to get there. The success of their hard work also depended on teamwork. Tia Isa Wants a Car also showed a Latino family somewhere in America and revealed to my son (who lives in a suburban home with two cars) that there are different economic realities in our communities.
I also enjoyed the interspersed Spanish vocabulary as the niece talked with her aunt and uncle. My son is quite interested in learning Spanish, so it was fun for him to learn some new words (and nice for me to practice my Spanish in our repeated read-alouds).
The illustrations (watercolor and pencil or ink?) are simply perfect for the tone of the story and bring the easy-to-like, hard-working characters to life. Each time we finished the story, my son asked to go to the beach too. (Too bad we live in the Midwest and it’s almost winter.)