Jenny Lacika, author
Jenny Lacika grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she loved finding amazing rocks, catching lizards, and reading. Later she attended MIT and worked in the energy industry in Boston. After she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and became a mother, she was drawn back to children's literature. She writes about topics she identifies with, such as STEM, disability, and Chicanx culture. This is her first book.
Read more about Jenny.
Teresa Martinez, illustrator
When Teresa Martínez was a child, her family moved from a small town to the city. Drawing helped shy Teresa connect with the other kids at school. Now she connects with children across Mexico and around the world through the books she illustrates.
Read more about Teresa.
- Coming soon!
School Library Journal, starred review (Spanish-English Bilingual Edition)
Rafael’s little sister, Essie, is always running after him and knocking over his toys. While she naps, Rafael gets the idea to make a wall high enough so Essie can’t pass to where he and his toys are. Rafael collects numerous boxes of different sizes—cereal and puzzle boxes, shipping and Kleenex boxes, file organizers and a cooler—and gets to work. Rafael arranges and rearranges the boxes until he finally has a good-sized wall, and just in time as Essie wakes up! As she approaches, Essie easily knocks over the wall. Rafael realizes all she wants is to play with him, and soon they are working together to make a new wall. Colorful digital illustrations welcome readers into Essie and Rafael’s comfortable and loving home, while English and Spanish text narrates each step of Rafael’s careful plan. Essie’s presence is known as the text becomes larger with each crash Essie brings. A glossary and suggestions for exploring math are included.
VERDICT Featuring two Chicanx siblings, and their family in the background, this bilingual picture book provides a fun view of how math and problem-solving skills can be applied in the everyday.
Rafael wants to keep his toys safe from his rambunctious toddler sister, Essie. What can he do? Nothing seems to ward off the human tornado that is his little sister. Blocking the doorway with a “no pasar” sign was a bust—Essie can’t read! Maybe he can protect his toys with a barricade. Commandeering an array of household items, Rafael begins constructing “un muro. A wall.” Puzzle boxes, cereal boxes, packing boxes, a portable cooler, and even a roll of toilet paper are pressed into service. Building the wall is not as easy as he thought. Using spatial relations and problem-solving skills, Rafael successfully constructs an impassable and kid-proof obstacle to protect his toys—or has he? Before he knows it, the irrepressible Essie barrels through the wall, and Rafael finally realizes what his sister has been trying to do—it’s not his toys she wants to play with but him. Lacika’s STEM-driven story highlights early math skills, self-directed creative play, and the power of collaboration. Using simple declarative sentences with a peppering of Spanish vocabulary, the text unfolds Rafael’s dilemma organically. The bright, full-color digital illustrations show various adults going about their daily routines oblivious to the churning sibling undercurrents in their Chicanx middle-class household. A Spanish glossary and math activities are included. A fun look at spatial and sibling relationships.
School Library Journal
From a series that weaves strong cultural connections and math concepts into a whole, this book features Rafael, who needs to protect his toys from his adorable but annoying baby sister, Essie. During Essie’s nap, he gathers materials to build a barrier to keep her from destroying his things. He carefully considers the size and shape of each item, and how it will work in his design scheme. Plenty of Spanish words in the story connect to Rafael’s culture, but his problem with his little sister is universal. At the end of the story, he finds that it’s more fun to include Essie than to keep her out. Most children will relate to this amiable story that limits the math concepts to building with three-dimensional shapes. Without the specific geometric nomenclature to help with build vocabulary, that part of the plot is weak, but the story gets by on its charms. VERDICT A compelling story with connections to math, Latinx culture, and family dynamics; a lot of kids will identify with Rafael and be happy to see this book on the shelves.
Rafael’s baby sister, Essie, is a toddling terror who doesn’t understand boundaries and keeps grabbing all of his toys. So, Rafael decides to build a wall to protect his belongings. He uses shoeboxes, paper rolls, magazine holders, and other found objects. Through trial and error mixed with a grasp of 3-D geometry and spatial reasoning, Rafael builds his fortification. But is it Essie-proof? This question is answered as soon as naptime ends and Essie comes busting through the wall. The toys, however, are safe because Essie loves knocking down the wall—and playing with her big brother—most of all. Lacika and Martinez do a wonderful job in this Storytelling Math title of bringing a STEM topic to life, and the illustrations clearly depict Rafael’s thoughts and building process. Because Rafael’s family is Chicanx (Mexican American), the text smoothly incorporates Spanish vocabulary, which is defined in a glossary. The back matter also includes an “Exploring the Math’’ section featuring math notes, activities, and a link to additional STEM support material.
This is a tale of a young boy and his even younger sister. Baby sister Essie is always getting into his things, so the boy decides to build a wall of boxes to keep her out. He uses mathematical problem solving to devise the perfect wall. But who breaks through it? Essie! The author profoundly and simply states in the author's notes that while walls can be useful, they aren't always the best solution. This Spanish/English book explores the uses of walls and integrates Spanish words into the text. Bright and engaging pictures coupled with mathematical influences make this story joyful for all. Includes an author's note and a glossary of Spanish words at the back of the book, along with 3-D geometry and spatial relationship activities. A fun and interactive book that promotes concepts in math, science, and engineering!
Spanish Bilingual Hardcover
Spanish Bilingual Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-63289-957-6 EPUB
Page count: 32
91/2 x 91/2