When Carmela’s birthday comes around, she knows she does not have to make a wish, it has already come true! She is now old enough to run the family errands with her older brother. Who, of course, is less than thrilled with the idea of his little sister tagging along.
Matt de la Pena creates a relatable sibling story with Carmela Full of Wishes. Who has not had an annoying little sister, brother or cousin or even next-door neighbor tag along? Jingling their bracelets, being a little slow, daydreaming? But also, who has not wanted to help that younger child when something not-so-pleasant comes along? Or who has not shown that younger sibling something like what dandelions are for?
The illustrations really make the story for me. I am not always a fan of Christian Robinson illustrations, but this time, they are the perfect paring for the story. They are just whimsical enough to soften a serious theme (siblings not always getting along) without making it too cartoonish.
The nice part of the book is that it might introduce you/your child to a world unfamiliar to you. How many of us live near a bodega or must use the laundromat? The fact that Carmela’s father is not in the picture is also interesting. He needs to “have his papers fixed.” This brings up contemporary issues in a non-threatening manner. Yet, it is just a story about a young girl and special wishes.
Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson have collaborated on one other book, Last Stop on Market Street. Hopefully this too becomes as popular as that one was.