Juana and Lucas: Big Problemas

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

Juana and Lucas: Big Problemas

by Juana Medina

I had a blast reading Juana and Lucas: Big Problemas. Author and illustrator Juana Medina, like the main character in her book, is from Bogotá, Columbia. I know some bilingual teachers who would be uncomfortable with the code switching in this book; I love it. For me, inserting some Spanish words in places where the context or illustrations make the word meanings plain adds color and flavor to this chapter book written mainly in English.

Juana, her Mami, and her dog Lucas have an almost perfect life together. They have a routine and a support group of family and friends that keep them happy. Things start to change when Mami gets a new hairstyle and starts wearing more perfume. The new man in Mami’s life is Luis, an architect. Juana likes him but she doesn’t want things to change, and she doesn’t want Mami and Luis to get married. We learn about Juana’s dad who passed away and about the sadness of not having a father. We share in the characters’ preparations for the wedding and the move. All of this is portrayed sensitively, but also with humor. The illustrations fit the book well.

I learned about a favorite Columbian soup, ajiaco. It is creamy and made of several types of potatoes that cook to various consistencies. It has corn on the cob, capers, chicken, sour cream, and herbs, and is topped with a slice of avocado. The other unfamiliar food to me is chocolate con queso. This special treat consists of hot chocolate with chunks of cheese—chihuahua, queso fresco, or mozzarella. Evidently it is a delight of sweet and salty and is served with bread. I’m ready for a trip to Columbia!

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Candlewick for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Children’s Fiction

Notes:  Age Range: 5 - 8 years
	Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3

Publication:  May 14, 2019—Candlewick
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This is the second book in this early chapter series Juana and Lucas about a young girl living with her mother and dog in Bogotá. She is happy and loves things the way they are, but when her mami meets Luis and they plan to get married, Juana is worried how this will change everything. Even though she likes being with Luis and he teaches her stuff, she still wishes that her life would go back to the way it was before Luis was around. The story deals with her feelings and how she is able to deal with the changes this new situation will bring. I also like the smattering of Spanish we learn along the way. This is a realistic story that many children will identify with. The message of enduring love from our parents and other family members is easy to understand. I love the illustrations in this book. Juana and Lucas are child appropriate, with bright colours and large figures. The emotions Juana is feeling are evident on her face. The illustrations showing Bogotá and the surrounding areas are wonderful. This is a great story for children to learn about how other children might live somewhere else, but there are similarities as well as learning about unconditional love. I recommend this one to school libraries and family libraries, especially if there is a new relationship that might cause anxiety in the children.
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This sequel to Juana & Lucas, begins just as Juana is realizing that her just about perfect life has become a little less perfect lately. It starts when she notices that her mother is wearing her hair differently, using more perfume, more lipstick and even singing. And lately Juana has also been spending more time with her abuelos, or with her abuelo's sister Cecilia, nicknamed Piti, or she has been staying with her cousins Cami Pipe, which is nice since Lucas can come, too. But Juana misses spending time with her Mami, whose spending times elsewhere without her.

Change is in the air and it turns out that Mami has been dating a man named Luis. Luis asks Juana lots of questions about herself when they first meet, and she learns that he loves to take pictures (so does she), he has a house in the country, called La Finca, and Luis likes to listen to jazz (so does she). And she really likes visiting La Finca. But when Mami and Luis announce they are getting married, Juana is less than happy.

And now, Juana needs to pack all her things because she, Mami, and Luis will be moving to a new house. Not only that, but her abuelita's seamstress is called in to take measurements for wedding dresses, including one for Juana and a special bow tie for Lucas. Piti is making the wedding cake, and Juana is her official taster. And she is excited about the new house, too. Pretty soon, Juana's dress is ready, the cake is made, and the wedding day has arrived. By now, Juana has accepted that her life has changed in a big way, and she starting to enjoy it, especially the idea of more cousins, uncles and aunts. After all, "it might guarantee an adventure or two."

Once again, Juana's first person narration draws readers into her life as she deals with the trauma of change and a new stepfather. I liked that Medina included an aside that is very touching as Juana thinks about the father she doesn't really remember and wonders what life would have been life with him. And Mami's reassurances that not everything will change, that she will always be her Mami who loves Juana, not matter what, and who will take care of her, laugh with her, cook her favorite foods, was also a nice touch.

The ink and watercolor illustrations are every bit as playful and energetic as in the first book, capturing all of Juana's emotions that run from very happy to very sad. And once again, there are Spanish words sprinkled throughout Juana's story. Juana's asides might inspire young readers to think about what is good in their own lives.

Both Juana & Lucas books deal with the kind of ups and downs that kids anywhere might face, but I really thought this story might be way, way over the heads of my young readers. Happily, most of them really got into it, and we again had lots of discussions, especially regarding the topics in the asides that Juana includes. I really hope they revisit both of these books when they begin reading on their own.

As a sequel, Juana & Lucas: Big Problemas stands up very nicely in terms of execution and strong storyline, and with the short introduction to Juana's near perfect life in Bogotá, it can be read as a stand alone story. 

And it is the humble opinion of my kids that Juana & Lucas and Juana & Lucas: Big Problemas are just about perfect. And we are hoping for more stories about Juana's life in Bogotá, Columbia with her best furry friend Lucas in the future.

You can download some handy Spanish/English flash cards to use along with Juana & Lucas. There is also a short Juana & Lucas: Big Problemas Activity Kit that can also be downloaded. Thanks to Candlewick Press for these.
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Juana Medina delves into her own childhood in Colombia for her first book Juana and Lucas, winner of the 2017 Pura Belpre Award, and this sequel, Juana and Lucas Big Problemas. Life for Juana and for Lucas, her canine sidekick and best friend, borders on perfection in a city that smells of eucalyptus and fresh fruit with good neighbors who always welcome her into their home as long as she takes off her muddy sneakers before stepping on their carpet. Mami, her mother, is pretty fantastic, and her abuelos are about the most wonderful people who ever existed, even though they have existed for a very long time. 

That happy life takes on an uneasy quality when Mami brings home a new amigo named Luis. She gets a new hairdo, begins to wear more perfume and lipstick, and sing more canciones.  With Mami spending more time with Luis, Juana finds herself shuffled off to relatives. The relatives are fun, but still. Luis teaches Juana about taking pictures and music which makes him more likeable, but still. 

This is a cheerful book about acclimating to a new stepfather, a fairly common mirror experience for children or for their friends. Spanish words and Colombian relationships make it a window into another culture. The ending author’s note tells that Juana Medina got into trouble at school for drawing cartoon versions of her teachers. Thankfully, she has held onto that skill to illustrate this delightful book.
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This is a perfect early chapter book. Juana's voice is clever and endearing (so is Lucas). The pictures are fun, and interestingly presented, and they break up the text nicely (some illustrating the story, some character sketches with relevant information about the people, some labeled like a diagram or accompanied by lists) so the chapters are not overwhelming. Readers will be able relate to her trepidation and excitement about big changes in her life. I'll definitely read this with my smalls.
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Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free digital copy in exchange for my honest review.  This was a nice story that is part of a series about Juana, a girl in Bogota, Colombia, and her dog, Lucas. In this story Juana's mom is getting married. It has a good age-appropriate message of thoughts that might go through a young child's head as they adjust to the changes of a parent getting remarried. It didn't dwell too much on her father's death but it was good that it was mentioned and included to give some background on both Juana and her mom ("mami was sad for a long time") that helps give context to the story. The story also touched on many different anxieties a child may have with moving houses, or sharing her mom with someone new.

The book itself is a nice, short chapter book with a lot of illustrations which is a nice bridge from picture book to children's books. There is also a little bit of Spanish sprinkled in as well as some cultural notes about Colombia.  Overall, a nice read to add some diversity to your home or school library. Juana Medina won the 2017 Pura Belpre Author Award for the first book "Juana and Lucas."
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This book is for children who are just starting to read chapter books independently or with support. 

Juana is a girl from Bogata, Columbia and the story is in English with the occasional Spanish word or phrase scattered throughout. This makes it more engaging for those who speak Spanish or those who are learning Spanish.

I liked the light, simple illustrations that contrasted with the topic of Juana's Mami remarrying & having to move house.
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This is a delightful book! Based on the cover I was expecting a  traditional children's pictured book, but instead it is a 96-page book with lots of illustrations, appropriate for a school-age audience.  Life changes significantly for Juana, and her dog Lucas,, when her widowed Mami meets and marries Luis. Juana describes her worries about having to share her mother and move from her home to become part of a family. This is a great book for any child facing similar life changes.  This  book also introduces young readers to basic Spanish words for family member, pets, food, etc. Highly recommended!
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Juana and Lucas is a good series for readers transitioning to full chapter books.  It is one of the series in the growing genre of illustrated chapter books.  The characters are relatable and kids can easily identify with the feelings and situations.
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Juana is a happy, independent little girl who loves her dog, Lucas. She has become use to a life with just her and her mamí but worry creeps in when her mamí’s relationship with Luis, mamí’s boyfriend changes and they begin planning a wedding.

Juana’s honesty about her feelings over the changing relationship will engage readers going through a similar situation. Juana Medina also shares the beauty of Bogotá, Columbia, the countryside, the city and the wonderful foods eaten which will provide readers with a view into this beautiful city.

There is Spanish words sprinkled throughout the story and there are simple, colorful illustrations that show readers all that little Juana sees.

Thank you Netgalley for the digital copy.
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Thanks NetGalley for the advance digital copy in exchange for an honest review!
Juana loves her family, her dog Lucas, and her life. Things change when her Mami stars dating a new man, Luis, and we follow along with her through all the changes that come along. As an early chapter book for kids I thought this was a solidly good selection. It's got some words in Spanish throughout as well which was great representation for Latinx communities that are having these blended lifestyles. I loved that this was an own voices story.
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I haven't read the first book in the series, but this one I absolutely loved. It's darling, you can see the child's perspective clearly without any adult interference. 

There are a lot of basic Spanish words thrown in and I couldn't love this more! Yes, you or the child read to might not understand every Spanish word, but if you read the whole sentence or the whole paragraph it makes sense because the context helps. It's a great book to read to kids who are interested in learning Spanish. 

It's also a great book to read to kids dealing with a mother or parent's second marriage, especially if the other parent died. I liked that it didn't focus too much on the absentee father, but slowly showed Juana's changing feelings towards her new step-father and towards the imminent move to another house.

I read the book on a black and white Kindle, so I don't know what the coloured illustrations look like, but I am sure they are lovely. Even the black and white ones were beautiful. It's a great chapter book for kids, but it can be equally enjoyed by adults.
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ADORED this one! Juana is a spirited voice in the world of chapter books. BIG PROBLEMAS follows her as she adapts to her mother finding love again and remarrying. Excellent writing many children will enjoy. BIG PLUS: it's set in Colombia! I'll be reading the first one in the series after this! Thanks to Candlewick Press for a digital galley.
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This early chapter book tells the story of a girl, her best friend, and her changing family. Juana's adventures are entertaining and relatable for young readers.
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I love this series!  This book addresses Juana's mother getting remarried.  Juana is worried about all the changes that come with her new family.  She later grows to understand that new and old do not always make for perfect, but her new life is pretty perfect after all.
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I love this book! It will be perfect for read aloud with my third graders especially because about half of them speak Spanish! I loved all of the Spanish sprinkled in and especially loved the Colombian culture throughout the book!

One of the greatest strengths of this book is truly the illustrations. They are fantastic!

I loved how this book tackled a real life situation a lot of kids go through when their parents are separated, divorced, or widowed. It is so important for kids to see themselves in literature - and not just their skin color or nationality but even more so importantly in the type of family they have!

I would highly recommend this to any parent or teacher!

I received an advanced copy through NetGalley. This is my honest opinion.
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This is the second book in this early chapter book about a young school girl in Bogata.

And big changes are coming, because her mother is going to get married, and she isn't sure about that, as most children would be.

And in between all this, we get Spanish vocabulary thrown in, so that you can figure out what the word is because of the context.





THe pictures of Juana and her dog Lucas are delightful.  The images of the city of Bogota is great, and this is a much more engaging book that the first one in the series.

Recommend it for introducing simple Spanish words, as well as learning about another city in the world.


Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.
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Juana and Lucas: Big Problemas by Juana Medina is a cute read about a girl, her best amigo and how they handle a big life change.  Juana is happy with how her life is, then her mom goes and meets a new guy.  Juana has to deal with all the emotions that come along with this shake up to her normal life.  Ms. Medina does a great job telling this story and a wonderful job illustrating Juana and Lucas’s interactions and surroundings.  I think Ms. Medina did a very nice job of entwining Spanish language and cultural references about Bogotá.  It added to the text.  I thoroughly enjoyed this early chapter book.
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What a great first chapter book! It's going a have a wide appeal I am sure! The story takes place in Bogota, Columbia and has a sweet little girl named Juana narrating it! This is the second book in the series, and in this one, Juana learns her mother has a love interest (her own father died when she was a baby). She's not sure how she's going to like this new man, it's always been just herself, her mom, and her dog Lucas. She also has a close extended family on grandmas and cousins. I think kids will relate to her very easily, and the cultural references will broaden their horizons. Good as a ESL book, too. Illustrations are fun to look at!
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I really enjoyed this early elementary chapter book about Juana, a little girl whose mother is going to get married. It addresses all the anxiety of a child in a situation, with the overall message that a parent's love for a child will never diminish, even when family members are added. The illustrations are charming, and I loved that Juana refused to be a flower girl because she thought the role was insipid. So great! 

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC.
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