Friday, December 29, 2017

Review: ALL AROUND US by Xelena González

I reviewed All Around Us (Cinco Puntos Press) by Xelena González, illustrated by Adriana M. Garcia, for Lone Star Literary Life. This is the most beautiful picture book I've laid eyes upon in probably forever. It's a circle-of-life book for this season of endings and new beginnings.

Xelena González, illustrated by Adriana M. Garcia
All Around Us
Cinco Puntos Press
Hardcover, 978-1-9410-2676-2, (also available as an e-book), 288 pgs., $16.95
October 17, 2017
“Do you see, my grandchild? We have new life with you.”
On the most basic level, you could say All Around Us is a children’s book about shapes. “Grandpa says circles are all around us. We just have to look for them.” A young girl and her grandfather take a walk and identify circles: the sun, a clock, bicycle wheels. On a whole other level, All Around Us is still about circles, but these are the circles of life. “Here is another circle,” [Grandpa] says as they tend their vegetable garden. “What we take from the earth, we return.” These circles are thunderstorms and rainbows, planting and harvesting, birth and death. As above, so below.

All Around Us is the first picture book from Xelena González and Adriana M. Garcia. González is a journalist and librarian; Garcia is an award-winning artist and scenic designer. The women are childhood friends, born and raised on the Westside of San Antonio. All Around Us, benefiting from a grant by the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, celebrates relationships with a sense of infectious joy.

González and Garcia are inspired by their memories and regular visits (with tacos) to their childhood homes. González’s prose is inspiring, but sweet and simple for the recommended ages of three to seven (preschool through second grade). Garcia’s illustrations are striking, uniquely beautiful. The neighborhood is recognizably San Antonio; the laughter in the eyes of grandfather and granddaughter is palpable.

All Around Us is all about connections, graced by ethereal images—the perfect children’s book for this season of celebrating endings and new beginnings.

Originally published in Lone Star Literary Life.

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