The Little House of Hope
Written by: Terry Catasús Jennings
Illustrated by: Raúl Colón
Publisher: Neal Porter Books, Holiday House, 2022
Themes: Family, belonging, immigration
Informational fiction, semi-autobiographical
It was a little house. Una Casita.
Esperanza and her family came to America from Cuba and find the perfect house for them. It smells a bit like wet socks, and the furniture is a bit rickety, but the family is together. They enjoy fixing up their casita and especially love the memories contained in their meals. Not everyone they know has the comfort of their own home, and so Esperanza’s Papi and Mami invite them to stay. It’s tight, but everyone is happy.
Not a single part of this book wasn’t beautiful. The story, the art, the characters’ joy and generosity, it all comes together into a wonderful read (and re-read) aloud.
The softness of the watercolors gives so much expression, not only to the faces but to the house and setting as well. Even pre-readers love to page through and just soak it all in.
There’s so much to absorb in the story, but one feature that particularly struck me is that there’s just the right amount of detail to the reasons as to why people immigrate. It is perfect for growing empathy in children. We sense through Esperanza’s eyes the beauty of the home they left behind, and also the bravery it takes to work towards something else.
The author’s note at the beginning is really good to share for children who have the attention span for it. The background provides yet another layer of richness to the story.
Resources: This book would pair well with We Came to America by Faith Ringgold.
Look up the meaning of your student or child’s name and make a college like Esperanza’s.
(Nameberry is one option)
Find Cuba on the map, look up pictures or read a book.