Would you like to visit the streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico? If so, follow young Carlitos as he roams the city in Across the Bay by Carlos Aponte. Carlitos is searching for his father in this award-winning book. He wonders about Papi because he left home with no plans to return. Carlitos carries a photo of Papi. He uses it to ask people if they recognize the man in the picture. He seeks help from a street vendor selling piragua, gentlemen playing dominos, and a lady feeding stray cats.
When Carlitos loses hope, a park ranger restores it. He explains that Carlitos’s dad can live in his memory. Carlitos feels better and heads home to his loving family.
Readers will observe Carlitos and his surroundings from different view points. Some illustrations make the reader feel like they are looking down on the scene while sitting in a tree. Other pictures view the scene looking up from the ground. A fascinating viewpoint is from the other side of a mirror in a barbershop. This perspective allows readers to notice the barber shaving a young boys hair while fathers and sons wait for their turn. We also see how uncomfortable Carlitos is as he stands next to his mother.
Aponte’s illustrations are captivating. He uses bold, thick lines to outline figures and cityscapes. Some drawings are transparent, while others are full of saturated colors. This style of illustration will engage readers as they gather information about San Juan, Puerto Rico.
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Curate/Think lV.A.1 Learners act on an information need by determining the need to gather information.
Across the Bay won the Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Book award. Introduce the book by asking readers what they notice and wonder about the medal. Share information about the Pura Belpré medal by visiting the Association for Library Service to Children page dedicated to the award.
Next, ask learners to read the title and look at the illustration on the book cover. What they can expect to learn from this story?
Explain that as you read the story, learners have a job to do. Learners will gather information about what is across the bay by looking for clues in the story. They will record questions they have about what they read.
At the end of the story, ask learners to share their questions. How will they find answers to their questions? Create a class plan to gather and share information about Puerto Rico. Consider illustrating new information from different perspectives. Use examples from the book to inspire ideas.
If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included.
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