Alex is excited his family is coming to visit. First grandma arrives and Alex rearranges his room so she can fit. Then Aunt Celia arrives, and the cousins start to pile in. Yummy Cuban food smells up house and everyone is happy—except Alex. He can’t even find space to sit down and papa believes more can always fit. When mama announces Cousin Beto is arriving too, Alex has had it! “No one else can fit in this house!” What can Alex do?
Mama bends over to consult with her son, Alex. “Alex, how would you like it if our family were bigger?” He’s delighted—his abuela is arriving from Cuba, and she’s going to share his room. Crisp draftsmanship by Archer (Daniel’s Good Day) seeds mixed-media artwork with diverting objects and patterns. In Alex’s room, which “looks like a planetarium,” his abuela sits on her bed leaning forward, fascinated by what Alex is telling her. The next day, there’s more news: his aunt and three cousins are coming from Cuba, too. “The bigger the better,” Alex says. The cousins tumble and play, and the smell of cooking food fills the house and “brings us all to the table hungry.” Another cousin appears. “Where eight can fit, nine can fit,” Papa proclaims. Then, just as suddenly, it’s over: “Tia Celia and your cousins are moving to their own apartment with Abuela,” Mama says, but she has some good news: she’s expecting, so a sibling is on the way. By showing how this family’s members help each other survive and thrive in a new country, Canetti (Rhyming Tongue-Twisters: Animals) fills a crucial niche with this affirming look at nonnuclear families. Ages 3–7. (Apr.)
Young Alex lives with his mother and father. Although it is just three of them, he knows he has a very big family back in Cuba—and they quickly demonstrate just how many people his little house can hold.
At the book’s beginning, Alex and his family get some wonderful news. Abuela is leaving Cuba and coming to live with them! After all, as Papa says, “Where three can fit, four can fit.” Alex is excited to be sharing his room with Abuela and spending time together. Soon, aunts, uncles, and cousins come as well, and their house is fit to bursting, until Alex feels that “no one else can fit in this house!” Slowly, Alex’s extended family members move out as they become settled in the United States, but there is still one last surprise for him at the end. Archer’s beautiful collage illustrations with bright colors and patterns capture the ebullience of this loving extended Cuban family. Its boisterous din is made visible with jagged diagonals everywhere, the double-page spread when Alex learns everybody will be leaving standing as dramatic counterpoint. While this brown-skinned family is Cuban, this is a story that will resonate with many children of immigrants and will give a glimpse into the positive side of bringing in a large extended family for those who aren’t.