Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 5 to 8
- Grade: k to 3
- Reading age: 5 to 8
A Haitian American girl finds connection to generations of family lore in this story of identity, heart and home.
Every winter, a young girl flies to Haiti to visit her Auntie Luce, a painter.
The moment she steps off the plane, she feels a wall of heat, and familiar sights soon follow — the boys selling water ice by the pink cathedral, the tap tap buses in the busy streets, the fog and steep winding road to her aunt’s home in the mountains.
The girl has always loved Auntie Luce’s paintings — the houses tucked into the hillside, colorful fishing boats by the water, heroes who fought for and won the country’s independence. Through Haiti’s colors, the girl comes to understand this place her family calls home. And when the moment finally comes to have her own portrait painted for the first time, she begins to see herself in a new way, tracing her own history and identity through her aunt’s brush.
Key Text Features
Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:
Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.
Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.
>Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.
Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.
Describe the overall structure of a story, including describing how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action.
About the authors
FRANCIE LATOUR is a prize-winning writer whose work explores issues of race, culture and identity. Her work has been featured on National Public Radio and the Today show, as well as in The Root, Essence and the Boston Globe. Her writing was also anthologized in The Butterfly’s Way, edited by Edwidge Danticat. Francie is co-founder of Wee The People, a social justice project for kids. This is her first picture book.
A mother of three, Francie was born to Haitian parents. She was inspired to write Auntie Luce by a chance encounter in 1992 with the late artist Luce Turnier — one of Haiti’s most celebrated female artists — who painted Francie’s portrait. Francie and her family live in Boston.
Ken Daley is an illustrator who draws inspiration for his work from his African Caribbean roots. He has illustrated Joseph’s Big Ride by Terry Farish, which received a Skipping Stones Honor Award for International Multicultural Books, and Auntie Luce’s Talking Paintings by Francie Latour, an Américas Award Honor Book and a Kirkus Best Picture Book about History and Tradition.He has exhibited his art in Canada, the United States and the Caribbean, and his work can be found in numerous private collections. Ken lives in Cambridge, Ontario.
- Commended, Américas Award
- Commended, Kirkus Best Picture Books
The narrative is lush and lyrical, capturing the romance of nostalgia as well as the concrete thoughts of the child. Daley’s acrylic illustrations burst off the page in deeply saturated, vibrant colors that echo but do not imitate Luce Turnier’s own art.
Daley’s . . . paintings convey some of the complexities of time and place through the images themselves. … Young readers will enjoy how Latour and Daley celebrate Haitian history and culture through this lovely, artistic story.
This vividly illustrated picture book is a feast for the eyes.
A quiet celebration of bicultural, bi-geographic identity . . .
[N]atural metaphors and poetic ideas will make this a good choice for sharing aloud in the classroom and creating emotional connection to a subject of study. Furthermore, the illustrator’s Afro-Caribbean roots amplify the love song the Haitian American author has composed to Haiti. . . . An excellent selection for exploring deep connections to Haiti through love, family, history, and art.
School Library Journal
Daley brings intimacy to the spreads, filling them with splashy tones and arresting framed portraits. An illuminating author’s note speaks about the Haitian revolution and the importance of remembering forgotten figures.