D.H. Figueredo, illustrated by Enrique O. Sanchez,
When This World Was New.
Lee & Low, 1999
Ages 4 – 8
After traveling at night on two planes from his warm island homeland in the Caribbean, Danilito faces his new home in the United States with a combination of excitement and apprehension. Even though he's always been a good student, he worries about going to a school where English will be spoken. And even though his Uncle Berto, a longtime U.S. resident, is helping them get settled in a new house, Danilito worries about his father getting a job and he fears he will never see his mother smile again.
The first winter snowfall helps him take his mind off his worries, however, as he dresses in unfamiliar ropa de invierno (winter clothes) and goes outside with his father for a walk in newly fallen snow. It's the first snow for both of them, and Danilito's father finally fulfills a life-long dream: to walk up a snowy hillside and then look back on his tracks in the snow.
The understated symbolism of their brief journey uphill nicely echoes the longer one they have just made. This first book by author D.H. Figueredo stays remarkably true to a child's perspective; the author's voice is as fresh and pure as a first snowfall. Danilito's fears about facing new experiences are realistic, as is his genuine excitement about snow. The soft edges of Enrique O. Sanchez's muted illustrations perfectly complement the bittersweet tone of the story. His closing picture shows Danilito, some months later, ice skating confidently as his proud parents look on, providing a satisfying visual conclusion to the story.
Kathleen T. Horning