I am René, the Boy/ Soy René, el Niño

author: René Colato Laínez
illustrator: Fabiola Graullera Ramírez
Piñata Books / Arte Público Press, 2005
grades 1-3 
Salvadoran American

A youngster from El Salvador whose name is René—“René el valiente, René el fuerte y René el chistoso”—to his horror, finds out in his new school in the US that Renee, the homophone of his name, is a girl’s name! So he goes off to the library and researches his name. When an essay contest gives René the opportunity to write up his research, he wows everyone and wins two pizzas, which he, of course, shares with his class.

Ramírez’s cartoon illustrations are bright and detailed, and will grab young readers. Although this story is based on the author’s experiences, the story seems contrived, especially in the level of research (René Descartes the philosopher, René Magrite the artist) this young child is able to accomplish. Marginally recommended.

—Beverly Slapin
(published 4/7/13)

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