Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Juana & Lucas Muchos Changes written and illustrated by Juana Medina

Juana & Lucas: Muchos Changes
written and illustrated by Juana Medina
Candlewick Press, 2021, 96 pages

I've read the previous two Juana & Lucas books, Juana & Lucas and Juana & Lucas: Big Problemas, a number of times to my young readers and they love the stories. So naturally, when I heard about Juana & Lucas: Muchos Changes, I knew it was time to revisit this favorite young South American girl and her faithful  dog. 

You may recall that Juana had a big surprise when her Mami told her that she and Luis were to be married. Juana wasn't very excited about it at first, but it has all worked out and now, she really likes living with him and Mami in there new apartment in Bogotá, Colombia. And now, Mami has another surprise for Juana - she and Luis are having a baby and Juana is going to be a big sister. Juana isn't very excited about the baby, but she is excited to be on her school break, weeks of reading, resting, exploring and playing with best furry friend Lucas, visiting her abuelos and her Tia Cris, maybe even some sleepovers. Or maybe not.

Mami and Luis have bought Juana a pair of skates and signed her up for skating camp and she is determined not to like it. But when Mami asks her to try skating camp at least five times, Juana agrees. At camp, she worries about not knowing anyone but after taking a bad spill, at break the other kids in the beginner group share their snacks with Juana and maybe, just maybe they will be her new amigos. 

But when Luis picks Juana up from camp instead of Mami, she learns that there is a complication in her mother's pregnancy and she must stay in bed until the baby is born. As her school break continues, Juana and her new amigos get better at skating and she gets to spend more time with her abuelos and Luis. Then one day, her abuelos pick her up and take Juana to the hospital, where her Mami has given birth to Juana's baby sister, born prematurely and in an incubator. Now, Juana has to wait patiently until baby María comes home and she can be a proper big sister. 

In fact, Juana's whole summer has been about learning to have patience. Patience learning to skate, patience becoming a hermana. And while there are lots of changes in Juana's life, she has lots of people who can help her adjust to them. Not only are Mami and Luis there for her, her abuelos are always willing to offer their support and guidance, and her new friends are willing to share their experiences of a new baby in the house, and Lucas is always there to lend a ear when Juana needs to talk about things. It's really nice seeing this supportive network of people who care about Juana and want to help her. I think that is one of the things my young readers have always like about the Juana & Lucas stories, plus so many of them have gone or are going through similar changes. Along those lines, I really like that Luis is such a great stepfather. So often, stepparents are stereotypically portrayed rejecting their new spouse's children.

As with all the Juana & Lucas books, there are the same lively, colorful cartoon-like watercolor illustrations and Spanish words sprinkled throughout. And there are more detailed digressions of important things in Juana's world. 

Juana is the same wonderfully appealing character she as in the earlier books. Consistency is important to young readers and it's disconcerting to them when a character changes too much from one book to the next, but my young readers still think that Juana and these books are "just about perfect." And so do I.

Thank you to Candlewick Press and Edelweiss+ for providing me with a digital copy of this book for review. 

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