Monday, June 7, 2021

Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey written and illustrated by Erin Entrada Kelly

Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey
written and illustrated by Erin Entrada Kelly
Greenwillow Books, 2021, 160 pages

Marisol Rainey, 8, lives in Getty, Louisiana with her Filipino mom, her brother Oz, 12, and her white American dad who is an electrician and works on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Three days a week, dad checks in with his family on the computer and one week a month he helicopters home to visit. Marisol is in the habit of naming things, for example, the refrigerator is named Buster Keaton, an old timey actor from a silent film Marisol watched. In the backyard is a tall magnolia tree named Peppina, named after another silent film called Poor Little Peppina, starring Mark Pickford. Peppina the tree is perfect for climbing, or at least that's what Oz and Marisol's best friend Jada George say. Marisol wouldn't know though, because she is afraid to climb Peppina. Well, really she is afraid of falling out of her. But maybe, just maybe Marisol will someday find the courage to climb that inviting tree.

Actually, Marisol has a great many fears and worries, and wonders why she is so scared of everything when it seems that no one else is. Luckily, she also has a best friend who never makes fun of her for being scared. Jada doesn't even care that Marisol has never climbed Peppina, although Jada climbs her all the time and dangles her foot from a comfy branch. Marisol is especially dismayed when finds out that her mother had climbed many trees back in the Philippines when she was a girl, the kalachuchi tree being her favorite. Will Marisol ever find the courage to climb Peppina and see the world from that new perspective?
But one day, just before Jada has to go home, she climbs Peppina higher that usual and discover a bird's nest with a feather and a pink ribbon. Marisol wishes she could see the bird's nest, too. Will this be the incentive she needs to gather her courage and climb Peppina?

This is Erin Entrada Kelly's debut chapter book. Not only did she write it, but she also illustrated Marisol's story with black and white spot illustrations throughout, and the result is just delightful. Told in the third person from Marisol's perspective, the chapters are short, with lots of white space between sentences, perfect for older elementary and younger middle grade readers. And I suspect that readers will find Marisol's worries, anxieties, and challenges completely relatable to their own. She also does have a nemesis of sorts, Evie Smythe, a girl who knows just how to put Marisol down and get under her skin to her make her feel bad (and make herself feel superior). But lest you think Marisol is ALL worry and fear, Kelly endows her with a loving family, lots of interests, curiosity, empathy, and she's really good at getting stuffies out of the claw machine. 

There is no maybe about it, Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey is a book you won't want your young readers to miss. It is a appealing story exploring age appropriate themes like biracial families, siblings, friendship, courage, and facing fear. You might even want to think about pair it with Lenore Look's Alvin Ho series and Katie and Kevin Tsang's Sam Wu is not afraid of...series. 

You can download a useful Teaching Guide for Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey HERE

This book is recommended for readers age 8+
This book was gratefully received from Madison Ostrander at SparkPointStudio

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