There is something on the swing. A baby doll! Esteban looks to the left. Then he looks to the right. The doll is all alone. The sky suddenly becomes dark. “Storm coming. ¡Vámonos! Let’s go!” says his mom. Esteban cannot leave the doll. It will get wet and dirty. What should he do?
Title: Esteban de Luna, Baby Rescuer/Esteban de Luna, ¡rescatador de bébés!
Author: Larissa M. Mercado-López
Illustrator: Alex Pardo DeLange
Children’s Book ♦ 32 pages ♦ Published May 31, 2017
Piñata Books, an imprint of Arte Público Press
This sweet bilingual children’s book tells the story of a kind and compassionate young boy who learns to be a hero in a small but powerful way.
Esteban de Luna LOVES his cape. He wears it everyday and imagines that he is a superhero. But he has a problem–superheroes are supposed to have magical powers, like flying, or making things disappear–but his cape just hangs there. Disappointed and disheartened, Esteban decides to sell his cape.
No one wants to buy it! So he puts it back on and goes to the park with his mother and baby sister. A storm approaches, but right before they leave, he sees a doll, all alone. And Esteban cannot let this be, and becomes a true hero by rescuing the baby and using his cape to keep it safe, clean, and warm.
What a delightful read. From the layout to the illustrations to the beautiful themes contained in the story, this book reminded me why I absolutely love reading children’s books (and why they always make me choke up).
The layout is simple: 2-4 sentences in English on each left-hand page in large, sans-serif font. Below the English, a row of small illustrations, below which is the Spanish version in large, sans-serif font. So well-balanced! On the right hand pages, full-color, full-page illustrations of the scene.
The illustrations are simple but effective. It will have to suffice to say that I love them and that they are the perfect accompaniment to the story. Art critique is not my strong suit, but I know when I like something! 😀
The main character of course is Esteban. He is a sweet, kind boy who really wants to save the world more than anything else. His cape is more than just a way to play pretend, though he is quite upset that he doesn’t have magical cape powers. His compassionate nature is more fully recognized when he decides to rescue the baby doll and realizes that superheroes are those who help others.
Esteban’s family is loving and supportive. His mother goes along with his desire to wear the cape, and tells him that even superheroes need to wash their clothes. She wears her baby daughter in a baby sling and takes them to the park. The daughter is happy and cheerful. Esteban uses the example of his mother and sister when he rescues the baby doll, by using the cape to make a sling to keep it safe and warm, breaking the stereotype that caring for children is “women’s work.” And at the end of the day, he and his father snuggle on the couch and read books.
I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to pass it on to my sister for her child to read. He’s a Hispanic child who was adopted by my sister, and sensitive and kind just like Esteban. To have a book like this read to him (and his brothers!) will help in many ways for my nephews to realize that boys can be more than rough and tumble and that Latino children and families are just as precious and kind as anyone else (there’s quite a racial divide in my hometown).
So if you’re looking for a really great children’s book for yourself or a friend, and want to support small, independent presses and authors, visit Arte Público Press and buy it directly from their online store!
About the Author
(from Arte Público blog)
Larissa Mercado-López, a Texas native and the mother of four children, is a professor of Women’s Studies at California State University, Fresno. She received her doctorate in English/Latina literature from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Esteban de Luna, Baby Rescuer! / Esteban de Luna, ¡Rescatador de bebés! is her first book for children. She was also named May 2017’s “Author of the Month” by Houston Public Media. You can listen to the interview here.
About the Illustrator
Alex Pardo DeLange is a Venezuelan-born artist educated in Argentina and the United States. A graduate in Fine Arts from the University of Miami, she has illustrated numerous books for children, including the Pepita series and Sip, Slurp, Soup, Soup / Caldo, caldo, caldo. She lives with her family in Florida.