Marisol McDonald and the Clash Bash / Marisol McDonald y la fiesta sin igual

author: Monica Brown
translator: Adriana Domínguez
illustrator: Sara Palacios
Children’s Book Press / Lee & Low, 2013

Her Peruvian mami gave her a brownish complexion, her Scottish dad gave her carrot-orange hair and just about all of her ancestors gave her a face full of freckles. And Marisol McDonald’s over-the-top, non-conformist sense of fashion is, well, her gift to herself. As is her adopted puppy named “Kitty,” who has one floppy ear and one pointy ear, Marisol is “unique, different, and one of a kind.” In this second book of which I hope will become a series, Marisol’s eighth birthday is approaching, and the little girl we met in Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match / Marisol McDonald no combina is throwing a theme party like no other—incorporating her love of princesses, unicorns, pirates and soccer into a veritable “clash bash.”

As our exuberant young narrator looks forward to her bash, what she wants most is a visit from Abuelita, who lives in Peru. In fact, she has been saving her chore earnings for two years so that Grandma can make the trip, “even if she has to fly on a butterfly’s back!”

But that is not to be. As Marisol’s Mami explains, “it isn’t just the money… It’s hard to get papeles to come to the United States. Abuelita needs a special document called a visa to visit us, but sometimes it takes a long time for the visa to arrive.” Marisol doesn’t understand: “Why does Abuelita need papers to see her own family who miss her so much?” I don’t understand, either, and I’m glad that Monica Brown has brought up an important issue for many children—separation from family members because of government-imposed immigration rules.

The big surprise, though, is that Abuelita has used some of the money to purchase a computer and—through the magic of Skype—is able to attend “the best Clash Bash birthday ever!”

Sara Palacios’s mixed-media art, as in the first “Marisol” book, is a feast of colors, patterns and textures. With a rich palette of warm tones, Palacios paints Marisol with her arms open wide to all the joyous possibilities of her world.

Eschewing literal translation, Adriana Domínguez artfully and flawlessly interprets the English text so that both hablantes and English-speakers can enjoy the story. Beginning with the title—because “clash” is kind of iffy to translate—she interprets “the clash bash” as “la fiesta sin igual.” And here—I just love this!—

Next week I turn eight, which rhymes with “great.”
La semana que viene cumpliré ocho, que rima con bizcocho.

And—oh, yes—in the helpful glossary in the back, “pretzels” is translated as: “pretzels.”
My one concern with this story (and illustrations) is the depiction of “pirates.” In the next book, I hope Marisol will discover that pirate costumes—with their eye patches and hooks for hands—are long-held stereotypes that portray people with disabilities as villains. Maybe she’ll educate her friends about this and other stereotypes in popular culture. Now, here’s something that Marisol could totally pull off. Wouldn’t that be cool?

Besides this issue—which could be a topic of discussion in an early childhood classroom—Marisol McDonald and the Clash Bash / Marisol McDonald y la fiesta sin igual is highly recommended.

—Beverly Slapin
(published 11/13/13)


  1. I never thought the portrayal of pirates with eyepatches, hooks, and peglegs suggested that people with disabilities are villainous. I've always taken it to suggest that people who embrace a violent lifestyle are likely to suffer violent and permanent injuries as a natural consequence.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Truth Unleashed. There are many resources that discuss this particular stereotype. Here are excerpts from two of them. I find the second one, which places this stereotype in the context of history, extremely interesting.

      “Throughout history physical disabilities have been used to suggest evil or depravity, such as the image of pirates as having missing hands, eyes and legs.” From “Media Portrayals of Persons with Disabilities,” in Media Smarts: Canada’s Centre for Digital and Media Literacy (

      “And what about pirates? From Lego to Stevenson's Long John Silver or Blind Pew, or Barrie's Captain Hook in Peter Pan, they nearly all have eye-patches, hooks and wooden legs. All these disabled pirates that we have don't really fit with history because pirates had a system of simple social security long before anyone else. They had common shares in the common purse so, if you got injured during the course of your endeavors, you would retire to a tropical island with as much money, drink and, presumably women, as you wanted and you were unlikely to go on trying it as an impaired pirate. Yet what we find is that in the 19th century, a number of writers became obsessed with pirates being disabled and evil. In previous centuries, pirates had been socially acceptable as they plundered and built up empire. For example, Daniel Defoe wrote a bestseller on a certain Captain Singleton, pirate, and on his return thrice Lord Mayor of London who was a popular hero. But pirates outlived their usefulness and so were shown as evil and, you guessed it, disabled.” From “History & Images: A Brief History of Attitudes to Disabled People” by Richard Rieser, Disability Equality (

      I hope that Marisol will, at some point, learn about this and other stereotypes, and go on to educate her friends.


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