My Papi Has a Motorcycle is a good father and daughter story that is based on Isabel Quintero’s own experiences as a child with her father and driving around the city they called home. Quintero brings together the past (the races they had on what is now the main street), present (the dog chasing them, and their favorite shaved ice place closed) and future (a cart that sells shaved ice). The sense of family and community is loudly presented.
It is also boldly presented with great illustrations by Zeke Pena. There are the colors of the neighborhood, the blurs of what you see on the back of a motorcycle, and the fun details that are uniquely for the father and daughter having together time. The details are fabulous. You can see the exhaust, the lemons on the trees, and the dust in the air as father and daughter pretend they are winning a race of the past. And the character herself is just a sweet anybody kid. The fact they are of a Hispanic background is not important, yet the world that has been created here shows how the old and new and the old world and new world come together.
This is for an older reader and could be a good read aloud. The story-time in the classroom might not work as well, however, but still could be used in a more general story time.
The nice thing is, there is some language that speaks volumes to the adult (the girl mentions how her father’s rough hands show the love he cannot speak) and there is language for the kids. Quintero has made a story that covers many ages. And both she and Pena have created a nice package to hold it all together. Also in Spanish.