Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 4 to 7
- Grade: p to 2
- Reading age: 4 to 7
In this sweetly funny picture book, a tiny mouse, Chico Canta, saves his entire family from the clever kitten, Little Gato-Gato, when he uses his quick wits and ability to speak another language.
Mrs. Canta lives with her family in an old theatre, and she has her hands full trying to keep track of her twelve children—especially Chico Canta, the youngest, tiniest, and most mischievous of the mice. She is always telling them, “Hurry! Hurry! ¡Pronto! ¡Pronto!” She speaks many languages, and she encourages her children to learn more, too. “Bilingual, bravo!”
One evening, after a wonderful performance of The Three Little Pigs, the mouse family narrowly escapes Little Gato-Gato. Undaunted and inspired by the production, they decide to mount their own version of the play. A frenzy of sewing costumes and building sets ensues under the direction of Mr. Canta, while Mrs. Canta oversees the cricket musicians, the spider stage crew, and the moths who will be the ushers. But on the night of the play itself, it is tiny Chico who is the star of the show when he spots Little Gato-Gato in the shadows, and uses his own special gift for languages to avert disaster.
Amelia Lau Carling’s charming illustrations show the pleasures, fears, antics and glories of Chico Canta and his family, all against the backdrop of the elegant old theater. A note from author Pat Mora describes how she and her daughter Libby were inspired to write this story together after she read the kernel of this bilingual joke in a book of Mexican American folktales.
Key Text Features
Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:
Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.
About the authors
Through her writing for all ages, presenting, and advocacy, Pat enjoys sharing what she calls bookjoy. The author of more than thirty-five award-winning children’s books, as well as poetry and nonfiction for adults and young people, Pat is also a literacy advocate. In 1996, she founded Children’s Day, Book Day / El día de los niños, El día de los libros. Many cultures have traditions for honoring their loved ones. In her recent book, The Remembering Day / El Día de los Muertos, Pat imagines how this custom may have started in Mexico. Other recent children’s books include Water Rolls, Water Rises / El agua rueda, el agua sube and two books with her daughter Libby Martinez, I Pledge Allegiance and Bravo, Chico Canta! Bravo! Among her other children’s books, many available in Spanish or bilingual editions, are The Beautiful Lady: Our Lady of Guadalupe; her haiku collection Yum! / ¡MmMm! ¡Qué rico! and Doña Flor: A Tall Tale about a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart.
Libby Martinez is an award-winning Latina children’s book author and poet. She is the co-author, with Pat Mora, of I Pledge Allegiance, which was recognized as Best Children’s Picture Book by the Texas Institute of Letters and the International Latino Book Awards. Libby is also the co-author of Bravo, Chico Canta! Bravo!, which was a Junior Library Guild Selection (Spanish edition) and appeared on National Public Radio’s Diverse Summer Reading List for Kids. Libby is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and Stanford Law School. She lives in Colorado Springs.
AMELIA LAU CARLING was born and brought up in Guatemala. Her parents' store sold the thread used by many Maya weavers in their extraordinary work. She was, therefore, in constant contact with Maya culture and creators from an early age. She is the author-illustrator of the celebrated books Alfombras de Aserrín(Sawdust Carpets) and La tienda de Mamá y Papá (Mama and Papa Have a Store) — winner of the Américas Award and the Pura Belpré Award for Illustration— and the illustrator of numerous other books. Though she now lives in the United States, she returns to Guatemala frequently.
Food for thought for monolingual mouselings — not to mention their parents and teachers.