Year Published: 1997
Written by: John Steptoe
Illustrated by: E.B. Lewis
Charles is surprised to learn that Hector, the new kid, is from Puerto Rico. After all, the boys both have the same brown skin, but Hector’s black hair is straight and he speaks Spanish. Charles thinks Hector is a pretty nice dude, though, and offers to teach his new friend “how to speak good English.” “And who’s gonna teach you?” Mamma jokes..
But then Daddy points out that Charles and Hector can look and speak somewhat differently and still share a common ancestry. “Sayin’ what you mean in your own special way– that’s bein’ creative,” Daddy explains. Creativity is just what Charles needs, too, if he wants to help Hector adjust to his new–and in some ways very different–American school.
John Steptoe’s engaging text sets a perfect rhythm against E. B. Lewis’s fluid watercolor palette in a story that celebrates an uncommon friendship and recognizes the rich connections of ethnic history.
“Charles, an African American student, learns to appreciate his similarities to and differences from his new friend Hector, who is from Puerto Rico. ‘A characteristically warm slice-of-life tale that also serves up a lesson or two about friendship and ethnic pride…. The artist relays the characters’ affections through well-chosen compositions, placing his figures in natural but intimate relation to one another. All told, a book with a heart.'”
“Lewis’s full-spread watercolors under a readable text happily complement this warm story of friendship.”
The Horn Book
“The story, written in a realistic, colloquial style and beautifully illustrated, offers opportunities to talk about race, diversity, tolerance, and friendship.”