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Juana and Lucas: Big Problemas

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Juana and Lucas: Big Problemas

Juana & Lucas

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 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


  1. I want to read this book from your review. Outstanding.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kensington has their September ARC’s on NetGalley now. There are several mysteries that I would like to read but I won’t request them as I am having trouble writing reviews.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. and loads of romances.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This sounds wonderful! Honestly, when it comes to language, I think inserting foreign words into a book written in one’s native language is extremely helpful. As an adult, I’d love to become fluent in a couple of foreign languages (ok, really, I wish I had the brain capacity for all of them because I LOVE language), but the older I get, the harder it seems to retain information, even when I really, really want to. But I digress, this is a lovely review, and now I want this book.

    P.S. Thank you for continuing to like and comment on my posts while I was “away”. 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

  5. carhicks says:

    I also really liked this one. I loved the insertion of Spanish words here and there, just enough to interest those who don’t speak Spanish, but maybe might try to learn more. This was a cute story about second marriages that I think will speak to any child dealing with that situation. A great review Linda.

    Liked by 1 person

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