Rene Has Two Last Names / Rene Tiene Dos Apellidos by Rene Colato Lainez and illus. by Fabiola Graullera Ramirez
The author turns a childhood experience into a bilingual picture book. English is on the top and Spainsh on the bottom. On the first day of school in the United States a young Rene Colato Lainez becomes Rene Colato. The shorter name feels wrong.
"In El Salvador, I wrote my name on my homework, my books and my birthday party invitations. Rene Colato Lainez was a happy song that made me dance to the rhythms of the cha cha cha. But in the United States, the song lost the guiros, and drums. Why does my name have to be different here?"
Young Rene's classmates tease him about his long name. A class project about a family tree allows Rene to explain the importance and meaning behind both last names. The presentation is great. Rene talks about about all four grandparents and the attributes he shares with each.
"And this is me, " I said, pointing to my picture in the family tree. "I am Rene Colato Lainez. I am as hard working as Abuelo Rene and as creative as Abuela Amelia. I can tell wonderful stories like Abuelo Julio and enjoy music like Abuela Angela. If you call me Rene Colato only, the other half of my family disappears."
I really liked this story. The illustrations are okay . There were a few pictures that made me smile, especially those of the grandparents. There is also a very cute cat. I would've liked the illustrations more if the children's eyes didn't seem to pop out of their heads. The large eyes didn't keep me from enjoying the story. The author does an excellent drawing a picture so children will understand his feeling of loss.
" Rene Colato looked incomplete. It was like hamburger without the meat or a pizza without cheese or a hot dog without a wiener. Yuck!"
After reading or hearing this story young readers will understand the significance and meaning behind two last names for the Latino culture.