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<< Back to My Tata's Remedies / Los remedios de mi Tata

My Tata's Remedies / Los remedios de mi Tata

Kirkus Reviews
[Roni Capin] Rivera-Ashford offers another semiautobiographical and child-friendly recounting of the importance of sharing intergenerational wisdom, this time accompanied by Castro L.'s expressive illustrations. … So many cultural treasures are dependent on word-of-mouth transmission, and this story encourages grandparents to lovingly pass on their knowledge to eager grandchildren and family members.
Following "My Nana’s Remedies/Los Remedios De Mi Nana,” illustrated by Edna San Miguel (2002), [Roni Capin] Rivera-Ashford offers another semiautobiographical and child-friendly recounting of the importance of sharing intergenerational wisdom, this time accompanied by Castro L.'s expressive illustrations.

From a banged-up forehead to a fever in the middle of the night, there are many opportunities for Aaron to observe his tata sharing concern and good cheer as he dispenses remedies based primarily on medicinal herbs to neighbors and friends. A Latino nonsense ditty used to console children when they are sick or hurt comes in handy when Aaron’s little brother’s itchy feet need attention (Heal, heal, little tail of a frog; if you don't heal today, you'll be healed tomorrow). Readers will be glad to know that Nana from the earlier books makes an appearance, and they may even wish that they were prescribed her freshly made empanadas, which she shares with the patients as part of Tata’s treatments. The large and colorful single-page illustrations successfully elicit empathy for those seeking relief from various maladies at Tata’s door. Botanically correct depictions of the plants utilized in the remedies decorate the text pages and are duplicated in the appendix, where properties and usage are described in more detail than within the fully bilingual text.

So many cultural treasures are dependent on word-of-mouth transmission, and this story encourages grandparents to lovingly pass on their knowledge to eager grandchildren and family members.
- Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2015  Visit Website
Booklist Online
Remarkable, realistic watercolor illustrations reveal the emotions felt by the sufferers, while the bilingual text conveys Tata’s expertise in alleviating their discomfort and in teaching his grandson about natural remedies. … An illuminating glimpse into a tradition not often addressed in children’s literature.
A young boy learns about natural remedies to cure illness and injuries in this picture book. Aaron’s grandfather, Tata, is knowledgeable in the use of “dried flowers, leaves, herbs and teas” to ease a variety of physical problems for family members and neighbors. The boy assists his grandfather in helping people suffering from a wide range of conditions, including a bee sting, a toothache, a burn, and an eye infection. Aaron is put in charge of searching his grandfather’s shelves, which are filled with numerous labeled bags and bottles. While Tata soothes his patients’ ailments, Nana, Aaron’s grandmother, comforts with her homemade empanadas and hot chocolate. Remarkable, realistic watercolor illustrations reveal the emotions felt by the sufferers, while the bilingual text conveys Tata’s expertise in alleviating their discomfort and in teaching his grandson about natural remedies. A “Glossary of Medicinal Herbs & Remedies” follows the story and is accompanied by illustrations of the plants described, along with specific warnings where necessary. An illuminating glimpse into a tradition not often addressed in children’s literature. —Maryann Owen
- Maryann Owen, April 15, 2015  Visit Website
Smithsonian Book Dragon Blog
In our overprescribed, overstimulated, overscheduled lives, author Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford reminds us about family traditions, cross-cultural and inter-generational support, building community, and taking the time to share, listen, and heal one another. … Illustrator Antonio Castro L.’s signature style – minutely detailed, meticulously thorough, richly colored – enhances the realism of Rivera-Ashford’s story.
“My Tata has been helping people feel better for as long as I can remember,” young Aaron explains about his beloved grandfather. “He helps my family and me when we get hurt or feel sick. He helps the neighbors too. All anyone has to do is ask.”
Tata is renowned for his remedies, created from the jars and bags he keeps in his “sweet-smelling” shed in his backyard. He’s an expert in finding just the right combination to cure aches and pains, cleanse wounds, and make life a little better – and healthier – for all.
He’s got Árnica de la Abuela for bruises, Corn Silk for bee stings, Creosote branches for itchy feet, Cat’s Claw for diaper rash, Aloe Vera for burns, Mullein flowers for oncoming colds, and so much more. Little by little, he’s passing on his precious knowledge to Aaron … with the reminder that “‘Practice makes perfect,” not just in healing, but in whatever you choose to do. Lucky for Aaron, his family, their many neighbors, Tata “‘always has a remedy, even if it’s just a hug.'” Those certainly work wonders, too.
Children’s book this may be, but we oldsters will have many revelatory moments of ‘I didn’t know that!’ In our overprescribed, overstimulated, overscheduled lives, author Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford reminds us about family traditions, cross-cultural and inter-generational support, building community, and taking the time to share, listen, and heal one another. She inclusively broadens her audience by offering a bilingual narrative. And, in case you don’t have a Tata nearby, Rivera-Ashford provides a “Glossary of Medicinal Herbs & Remedies” at book’s end, prepared by Professor of Herbal Medicine Dr. Armando González-Stuart of El Paso, Texas. Expert advice indeed.
Illustrator Antonio Castro L.’s signature style – minutely detailed, meticulously thorough, richly colored – enhances the realism of Rivera-Ashford’s story. Aaron could be part of your family, or your nearby neighbor; Tata could be your grandfather (if you were so lucky), or he could be a valued part of your wider community. Together, writer and artist capture the every day … and celebrate the Santo remedios – magical cures – whether medicinal, cultural, emotional, and otherwise, that we can all share with one another. —Terry Hong, Smithsonian Book Dragon Blog
- Terry Hong , May 5, 2015  Visit Website
Midwest Book Review
“My Tata’s Remedies” is a beautiful bicultural book presenting healing herb lore laced with love in an Hispanic tradition, with roots in the American Southwest.
My Tata's Remedies / Los remedios de mi tata

“My Tata’s Remedies (Los remedios de mi tata)” is a beautiful illustrated bilingual story of the loving, traditional use of special home remedies from healing plants that grow in the American Southwest. Each pair of pages presents a lovely color portrait illustration facing two paragraphs of narrative, first in English, with Spanish expressions, and second in Spanish. A boy asks his Tata to teach him healing remedies that he makes from herbs, flowers, teas and plants. His Tata gladly complies, beginning with a ritual gesture of a healing clap and saying, “Sana, sana colita de rana, si no sanas hoy, sanaras manana.” (“I'll kiss it and rub it and make it go away, now that you're better, you can go out and play.”) Different plants offer different remedies, and each is shown in flower illustrations to the side of the page of text. Special healing plants include Arnica Montana, Creosote bush, Cat’s Claw, Aloe Vera, Elderberry, Century Plant/Maguey, Eucalyptus leaves, Mullein flowers, Mexican Thistle, Linden tea, whole Cloves, Porter's Lovage, Rue, Aztec Marigold and Hummingbird Flowers. Each remedy is prescribed for a specific complaint, and the preparation and treatment are also explained. Another component of healing is provided in the hot chocolate and empanadas of Nana, the boy’s grandmother. A wonderful day of learning about healing plants and their applications is passed, with fun and joy mixed in with discomfort or pain. Each page brings new ways to approach minor illnesses and problems using traditional, natural remedies from the Southwest, Hispanic traditions. “My Tata’s Remedies” is a beautiful bicultural book presenting healing herb lore laced with love in an Hispanic tradition, with roots in the American Southwest. A Glossary of Medicinal Herbs and Remedies is included at the end, with colored illustrations of flowers and plants and descriptions in both English and Spanish of their properties and uses.
- Midwest Book Review , July 20, 2015  Visit Website
Edible Baja Arizona
“In both English and Spanish, the book is practical and useful, as well as entertaining for children.”
A story truly rooted in Tucson, Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford tells a tale of a grandfather who is known for using traditional herbs as homeopathic treatments for various ailments. In both English and Spanish, the book is practical and useful, as well as entertaining for children.

Tata, as the child narrator relates, has been treating neighbors and family members since he was a young man. When the narrator’s little sister is stung by a bee, Tata packs her arm with mud and makes a wrap out of cloth soaked in corn silk. He makes a powder out of cat’s claw pods for diaper rash, a rinse from elderberry blossoms for itchy eyes, and marigold blossom and hummingbird flower tea to treat a fever.

Perhaps even more valuable than the medical advice is the lesson in cross-cultural diversity. One of the neighbors who comes to Tata for treatment is a recent immigrant from Angola. For children whose first language is English, the Spanish text offers encouragement to learn another language prevalent in our region.

This melting-pot approach comes naturally to the author. Rivera-Ashford’s Jewish ancestors settled in Nogales years ago, and she taught school in the border region for 30 years before retiring in Tucson. Her themes are deeply tied to the varying cultures of the border — another book, “Hip Hip Hooray, It’s Monsoon Day!/Ajua, Ya Llego El Chubasco!” celebrates the rainy season here in the desert.
- Molly Kincaid, September 15, 2015  Visit Website
Kiss The Book
Told in both Spanish and English, this book is a great introduction to natural healing practices and the use of medicinal plants.
Tata is a healer. He has a knowledge of the natural things that will help heal everything from itchy feet, to a bee sting, to a burn. In one day, Tata treats so many people, his grandson Aaron loses count. But every patient is helped with herbs, teas, washes and ointments made from the plants growing in the American Southwest. (Oh, and empanadas made by Nana). Told in both Spanish and English, this book is a great introduction to natural healing practices and the use of medicinal plants. Includes a glossary describing and picturing the plants used in the story.
- Lisa Morey, January 13, 2016  Visit Website
Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs
In this beautifully constructed book, the topic of traditional natural medicine takes center stage … Roni Rivera-Ashford portrays a loving intergenerational relationship between Tata Gus and Aaron, one in which wisdom and knowledge are patiently passed down from grandfather to grandson.
In this beautifully constructed book, the topic of traditional natural medicine takes center stage
as a young boy, Aaron, spends the weekend at his grandparents’ house, where he learns many
remedies from his healer grandfather, Tata Gus. With great sensitivity, author Roni Capin
Rivera-Ashford portrays a loving intergenerational relationship between Tata Gus and Aaron, one in which wisdom and knowledge are patiently passed down from grandfather to grandson.
Readers join the pair for a day of healing in which several members of Aaron’s extended Latino
family and community come knocking at Tata and Nana’s door in search of a remedy to cure a
sudden ailment. Each community member is received attentively and given generous care, and
may even enjoy a special treat of empanadas prepared by Aaron’s grandmother, Nana. With
stunningly realistic artwork done by renowned Mexican artist Antonio L. Castro, My Tata’s
Remedies offers an absorbing glimpse into a busy and productive day at Tata and Nana’s
house. The book lends itself to classroom discussion of traditional medicine, family traditions,
and the importance of community. A detailed glossary of medicinal herbs and remedies
provides readers with the opportunity to delve more deeply into learning more about the healing
properties of each item mentioned in the book. (Grades 2-4)
- May 28, 2016  Visit Website
De Colores: The Raza Experience in Books for Children
Rather than a typical European “beginning-conflict-resolution” children’s story that tells rather than shows, this beautiful book shows how oral teaching of traditional herbal remedies is transmitted across generations of community.
In My Tata’s Remedies / Los remedios de mi tata, young Aaron expresses interest in learning how Tata Augustine (or “Tata Gus,” as everyone calls him) makes his remedies, and the elder curandero decides that this is as good a time as any to begin the child’s education—“poco a poco te voy a ir enseñando qué usar y cuándo usarlo.” He directs his grandson to the shed in which dried flowers hang from rafters, and jars and bags are filled with other traditional medicinals—leaves, herbs and teas—each labeled, sorted and stored in its appropriate place.

As it happens, Tata’s first patient of the day is Aaron, who has hit himself in the forehead with the balero that Tata had given him. With Árnica de la Abuela and Árnica flowers—along with a handclap and a well-known healing rhyme—Tata’s remedy soon has the desired effect.

As each person in the community—relative, friend and neighbor—presents a health problem, Tata tells his grandson exactly what to get and where to find it, and then shows him how a particular herb or tea is used to solve a particular problem. Aaron learns, poco a poco, how to take away a bee sting, how to make feet stop itching, and how to cure diaper rash, burns, eye infections, and even a cold and a toothache. When Mamá and Uncle Mark arrive, they’re invited to spend the night, and Aaron gets to experience yet another cure and some stories from the family’s past. As Tata tucks him in and reminds him of the necessity of practice, Aaron thinks about how fortunate he is to have Tata as his grandfather and his teacher as well: “To have a loving grandfather is like a santo remedio—a magical cure!” / “Tener un abuelo cariñoso es como un santo remedio.”

Castro L.’s realistic and expressive single-page illustrations, rendered in colored pencil and watercolors, complement this authentic and loving portrayal of close family and community ties. Here is a horrified Sara, being stung by a bee. Here is an unhappy Justin, soaking his itchy feet in Creosote rinse. Here is baby Anita, “crying up a storm,” suffering from diaper rash. Here is Malila, in pain from a deep burn on her arm. Here is Rudy, the postman, with a red nose and watery eyes. Here is mariachi José Luis (“Guapo”), massaging his aching mouth. And here is a young child beginning to learn from his Tata how to help people in the community; a kind, generous Tata passing on his knowledge of healing and sharing—while an ever-patient Nana, with a big smile, provides comfort with fresh-baked empanadas and hot chocolate.

The endpapers remind me of earth and roots, and beautifully designed text pages—reminiscent of aged paper on which well-used recipes might be found—extend each full illustration and depict a specific herb with its common name in English and Spanish. As well, the back matter contains a helpful and educational bilingual “Glossary of Medicinal Herbs & Remedies / Glosario de hierbas medicinales y remedios,” in which each illustrated entry has both its common and scientific name in English and Spanish.

The excellent idiomatic Spanish is sometimes translated and sometimes interpreted, so the story flows in Spanish as effortlessly as English. Here, for instance, as Tata intones the children’s healing rhyme, “Sana, sana, colita de rana, si no sanas hoy, sanará mañana” (which translates as, “Heal, heal, little frog’s tail, if you don’t heal today, you’ll heal tomorrow”), young Aaron explains that it’s Tata’s way of saying, “I’ll kiss it and rub it and make it go away. Now that you’re better, you can go out and play!” In the Spanish version, of course, there is no explanation because none is necessary.

Rather than a typical European “beginning-conflict-resolution” children’s story that tells rather than shows, this beautiful book shows how oral teaching of traditional herbal remedies is transmitted across generations of community.

My Tata’s Remedies / Los remedios de mi tata, which won Antonio Castro L. an Illustrator Honor Book Pura Belpré Award, is a pleasure to look at, read, and learn from—and is highly recommended.
- Beverly Slapin, June 14, 2016  Visit Website

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