Goodnight, Papito Dios / Buenas noches, Papito Dios

author: Victor Villaseñor 
illustrator: José Ramírez 
translator: Carolina Villarroel 
Piñata Books / Arte Público Press, 2007 

When a fearful young child (“I’m scared that creepy creatures will come and get me!”) tries to settle into bed, his father comforts him by remembering, when he was a child, how his own mother sang to him each night—“¡Cu-cu-ru-cu-cuuu!”—the beautiful, lilting turtledove song. As the child snuggles up under the covers, Papá soothes his son, telling him about feeling good and safe and warm as he travels up, up into the heavens with his Guardian Angel, “flying through the clouds and past the stars,” to visit with Papito Dios. Papá sings, just like his own Mamá sang: “Cu-cu-ru-cu-cuuu, canta la paloma. Duérmete, mi niño, duérmete ya, cierra los ojitos y empieza a sonar” (loosely translated: “Coo-coo-roo-coo-coooo, sings the turtledove. Sleep, my little darling. Sleep, my little love. Close your tired little eyes, m’ijito, and go quietly to sleep.”)

Goodnight, Papito Dios is a gentle song that comforts a child in the loving care of his parents, all of his relatives, his community, everything that lives and the world above.

Ramírez’s striking images, rendered in acrylic and enamel paint on canvas, consist of blue and red underpainting followed by contrasting primary and secondary colors, and enclosed with dark purple enamel marker outlines. The stylized faces, reminiscent of Diego Rivera’s murals and some of Picasso’s, aptly portray the emotions of the story and song. As well, the opposing text pages—each placed on a yellow background containing a design element that separates the English and Spanish—lighten and brighten the double-page spreads.

Villarroel’s idiomatic Spanish maintains the softness and beauty of the English:  

Daddy loves you. Mommy loves you. Your Guardian Angel loves you and the turtledove loves you too. And so does the dog, the cat, your brothers and sisters, and the trees and the grass and the flowers that dance in the wind.

Papá te quiere, Mamá te quiere. Tu Ángel de la Guardia te quiere, igual que la paloma. El perro y el gato te quieren y tus hermanos y hermanas también, así como los árboles, el césped y las flores que felices danzan en el viento.
Goodnight, Papito Dios / Buenas noches, Papito Dios, a tender, loving story and song in Spanish and English, complemented by lush artwork, is highly recommended.

—Beverly Slapin

(published 9/4/16) 

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