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Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  485 Ratings  ·  171 Reviews
From first-time Mexican author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh comes the story of two cousins, one in America and one in Mexico, and how their daily lives are different yet similar. Charlie takes the subway to school; Carlitos rides his bike. Charlie plays in fallen leaves; Carlitos plays among the local cacti. Dear Primo covers the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of tw ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published March 1st 2010 by Abrams Books for Young Readers
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Apr 24, 2015 Michelle added it
Shelves: multicultural
1. Text-to-world connection: This story tells about two cousins who live in different countries and have different daily lives. One of them lives on a farm in Mexico and the other lives in a big city in the U.S. As I was reading this book I kept thinking that many students who live around here may not be familiar with either of these places. Even though one of the boys lives in the same country as our students their lives may be very different. This book would give them a look at 2 places they ...more
Evan Taylor
When I was growing up I spent the majority of my time playing and hanging out with my cousins. I, for one, could not imagine what my childhood would have been like if my cousins lived in a different city, let alone a different country. The very thing I could not handle Carlito and Charlie deal with on the daily basis, Carlito lives in Mexico and Charlie lives in America. Due to the fact that they live miles from each other and do not always have access to phones, they are constantly writing each ...more
Apr 26, 2010 Tasha rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
One cousin in America and one cousin in Mexico write letters back and forth describing their lives. Carlitos lives on a farm in Mexico with all sorts of animals. Charlie lives in a city filled with skyscrapers and lights. The lives of the two boys are contrasted with one another from food and games to shopping and celebrations. Underlying the differences though are the similarities between the boys with their energy and strong communities. Tonatiuh’s art strengthens this tie between the boys, ...more
Melissa Barbier
This book is about two cousins that are pen pals between Mexico and the U.S. While this book does feature life in Mexico and life in the U.S., I was a little disappointed with it. I thought the illustrations were cute in their Picasso-like weird sort of way and the bold lines. I originally liked it but after reading it to my class, I realized that there were so many pieces of the cousin from the U.S. that my students could not relate to because it took place in a city. The pieces of the Mexico ...more
Sep 09, 2014 Margaux rated it it was amazing
Shelves: modern, picture-books
I love this author. He also wroteDiego Rivera: His World and Ours, which I read in my Art in Picture Books class! In a style evocative of Aztec art, Tonatiuh tells the story of two boys: one in America and one in Mexico. The cousins write letters back and forth comparing their experiences. From weekends at the marcado or supermarket to eating their favorite meals of quesadillas or pizza, the boys go through their favorite things. The Mexican experience is labeled with vocabulary words ("trompo," ...more
Apr 27, 2015 Yesenia rated it really liked it
Dear, Primo A Letter to My Cousin explores the differences between two cultures.The boys who write letters to each other are cousins one lives in Mexico and the other one in the United States. In each letter the boys describe how their live is and what they do.When I was reading this book it reminded me of my cousin and I because I also use to write letters to her describing how life is different in the United States than my home country. That is the main reason why I enjoy reading this I was ...more
Dec 18, 2013 Anna rated it it was ok
Dear Primo: a letter to my cousin/ Duncan Tonatiuh/ 2010
Genre: fiction
Format: picture book
Plot Summary: Two cousins, one in Mexico and one in New York City, write to each other and learn that even though their daily lives differ, at heart the boys are very similar.
Considerations: no red flags,
Review Citation: Medlar, Andrew. Booklist, Feb 2, 2010. 106:11, 48.
Selection Source: Bibliography from Celebrating Diverse Latino Cultures, Literature, and Literacy Everyday ALSC Institute – 2010
Joshua Arvey
Title: Dear Primo
Author/Illustrator: Duncan Tonatiuh
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Themes: Realistic Fantasy, Picture Book, Diversity, Pura Belpre Honor, Children's Literature Assembly Notable Books, Immigration

Plot Summary: In this interesting story there are only two main characters. They are two young boys who are cousins. The only thing is that these cousins live hundreds of miles apart in different countries. The main way of communication between the two boys is writing letters to one another. Ea
Sandra Madrid
Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin is a story about two cousins who are separated, one lives in the United States and the other one lives in Mexico. The story shows the differences between the two places. It shows how different their daily lives are; how school is different, what they eat, what they would play, and what they would see outside their windows. This book shows how immigrants can struggle with distance and be far from loved ones.
This story is interesting to children because they are
Nicole Sanfilippo
Oct 31, 2016 Nicole Sanfilippo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: october-31st
Dear Primo: A Letter to my Cousin was my favorite book I read during class. I loved all of the pictures throughout the book and the story line. It was so neat to see a book compare two different places, but with two people of the same culture. One cousin was in Mexico, while the other cousin was in New York. The differences within the two countries were so different, even though the countries are so close. I thought this book was a great way to compare and contrast different things.
Diego Garcia
Nov 27, 2016 Diego Garcia rated it it was amazing
Charlie and Carlitos are cousins but they live in two different countries. Charlie lives in the United States and Carlitos lives in Mexico. They share their daily experiences by corresponding with each other. Charlie likes to play basketball and Carlitos likes to play soccer. The countries that they live in are different, but they find out that they share more in common than expected. The story does a good job of demonstrating how community can be built across borders.
Alexander Goos
Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin, is a story written by Duncan Tonatiuh, A Mexican-American author/illustrator. The story is about two boys named Carlitos who lives in Mexico and Charlie who lives in the United States their cousins and every week or so they write each other a letter and they talk about what life is like in their respective countries and how things are different and how things are similar. Charlie lives in the city and take the subway to school while Carlito's lives on a farm ...more
Kayla Larsen
Dec 01, 2016 Kayla Larsen rated it it was amazing
Dear Primo is an excellent story about comparison while also touching on different cultures in a genuine way. A major literary standard is a student's ability to compare and contrast, which this book does naturally. However, this book can also be used to integrate social studies into a lesson. This book checks the multicultural and interdisciplinary boxes, so it is a must have for my future classroom.
Tonya Peck
Mar 15, 2013 Tonya Peck rated it really liked it
Audience: This book is great for primary readers k-3rd grade and lower intermediate grades like 4th grade.

Appeal: I think this book would be great for a majority of boys k-4th grade because they can relate to the sports and activities that the boys are interested in and participate in.

Application: I think this would be a great book to use as a writing example for 3rd and 4th graders. I would plan ahead with a class in Mexico. I would then read the book and explain to the children that they will
Andrew Wells
Plot Summary: This realistic story starts out with Carlos receiving a letter from his primo, his cousin. He hopes to meet his cousin someday. Primo explains is curiosity towards America and how his current living situation is like. Carlos describes his environment, including the different animals he sees in Spanish.Then Carlos goes on to explain what it really is like in America, for instance his window view is of a city. The story then goes on to show the differences between the sport ...more
May 10, 2016 Bridgette rated it really liked it
This story is told as letters written back and forth between cousins Carlitos and Charlie. Charlie lives in the United States in a big city while Carlitos lives in rural Mexico. Charlie speaks English but Carlitos speaks a mixture of English and Spanish. The story is told in English but Carlitos adds lots of Spanish vocabulary to the story. The language is authentic and he explains different places, activities and foods in Spanish.
The author compares and contrasts different aspects of the boys’
Apr 18, 2015 Chris rated it it was amazing
Shelves: multicultural
School Library Journal Recommends-K through 3rd grade

Text to World Connections:
Dear Primo offers insights into how we are really all very much alike regardless of where we live. We all have to get to school/work, interact with family/friends, do chores, go shopping, eat healthy food, etc. We just may do them a little differently depending on where we live. While writing traditional letters back and forth (pen pals), two cousins (one Mexican and one Mexican-American) reveal what life is like in M
Tammi Peterman
Apr 24, 2015 Tammi Peterman marked it as to-read
Shelves: multicultural
1. text to self: In 3rd grade we were given pen pals as a class assignment. My pen pal was a girl in Italy. At such a young age I knew very little about Italy but through my pen pal I was able to learn so much. My pen pal wrote about her country a little but mostly her culture an in return I would write about my own culture. My pen pal lasted only 1 year but I learned so much about her including how similar we were and I felt so close to her just sharing our simple day to day experiences just as ...more
Cynnea Schreibman
Apr 23, 2015 Cynnea Schreibman rated it really liked it
Dear Primo A Letter to my Cousin: Tonatiuh, D., & Arnst, M. (2010).

The children’s picture book Dear Primo A Letter to my Cousin by Duncan Tonatiuh is a story about two cousins from different countries. Charlie lives in the city in America and his cousin Carlito’s lives on a farm in Mexico. The two boys are writing letters back and forth to each other about the activities they do and their daily life style. They learn that they are different but also very much similar. Carlito likes to play
Mar 03, 2012 Addie rated it it was ok
Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin by Duncan Tonatiuh
Abrams Books, 2010
Interest level: k-2, Lexile 610
Pura Belpre Honor Book

This picture book has bright, fun, contemporary illustrations and kids will be drawn to the cover. The illustrations were hand-drawn then colored and collaged digitally. The author tries to incorporate the style of ancient Mixtec art and art from other cultures in Mexico and you can really see this style in these illustrations.

The story is about Charlie who lives in America
This book, Primo: A Letter to My Cousin is up for the Monarch Award in Illinois. I think it a good choice for the 20 books chosen as possible winners for 2015. It would make a good pairing for the novel I'm reading for my children's literature class. It is called, The Same Sun Here by Silas House and Neela Vaswani. The reason they would make a good pairing is because they both involve long-distance pen pals. In Dear Primo: A Letter to my Cousin, Charlie in America writes to Carlitos in Mexico. ...more
Elissa Still
Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin follows two cousins writing to each other through the mail who each experience everyday cultural differences but have a surprising amount in common. One cousin, Charlie, lives in New York, while the other cousin, Carlitos, lives in Mexico. This book is a wonderful read because it shows how even though the two cousins live in vastly different situations they both enjoy doing similar things, such as playing outside with their friends, and enjoying their favorite f ...more
Amber Bush
Oct 05, 2014 Amber Bush rated it it was amazing
Shelves: libs-642
Tonatiuh, D. (2010). Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin. Harry N. Abrams.

Picture Book Project

Choice/ ALSC 2011 Notable Children's Books/ALA Youth Media Award Winners 2011

This book talks about two cousins who live in two different countries, Mexico and the United States. They share their experiences and talk about how different each person lives. The illustrations and words merit each other and create an easy flow for young students to follow. It highlights both aspects of both worlds and shows th
Peggy Dynek
Apr 25, 2014 Peggy Dynek rated it really liked it
Shelves: multicultural
1. Text to World- Dear Primo puts me in the mind of the ideas that were shared by Chimamanda Adichie. Two cousins write letters to one another, telling their story to one another. Family life choices have given these boys completely different experiences. Carlitos lives in rural Mexico, he farms, visits the nearby village and enjoys Mexican holidays and ‘futbol’. Charlie lives in the big city with skyscrapers, subways and basketball. Even within the same family there can be completely different ...more
Mexy Gonzales
The book entitled “Dear Primo a Letter To My Cousin” tells the story about two cousin or two “primos” writing back and forth letter to each other. Although they are both Mexican boys their lives are distinctively different with one living in Mexico and one living the U.S. As they write letters back and forth they describe daily activities such as swimming in the river and getting cooled off by water hydrants. Other than activities they talk about traditions, foods, and customs. This would be a ...more
Feb 02, 2011 David rated it did not like it
Shelves: children-s-lit
Charlie and Carlitos are cousins who apparently live in radically different cultures and nations. Through their interaction via letter-writing, readers may get the impression that living in an urban U.S. city is certainly more sophisticated than living in rural Mexico. While Mexican child Carlitos must tend to the donkeys, chickens, and roasters at his home, Mexican-American Charlie gets to sit by the window and contemplate the beauty of city lights. Additionally, while Carlitos subsists on ...more
Samantha Zimmerman
Written in two different perspectives, Carlitos and Charlie correspond with each other discussing what life is like for them where they live. Carlitos lives in a poor area in Mexico and Charlie lives in the city. They discuss what different aspects of their lives with each other, like their favorite meals, games they play with their friends, sports, culture, their surroundings and other important things that make their lives different from each other. I think that this could be used in any young ...more
Cousins Charlie, who lives in the United States, and Carlitos, who lives in Mexico, exchange letters and realize that they have a lot in common. Although they may prefer different foods, play different sports, and have very different views from their homes, they also long to share parts of their lives and cultures with each other. The sprinkling of Spanish words in Carlitos' letters and the stylized illustrations, inspired by Mixtec art, adds a cultural flavor to the picture book, making it ...more
Oct 03, 2015 Andrea rated it liked it
Shelves: rll-538
In his first picture book, Dear Primo, A Letter to My Cousin, Duncan Tonatiuh writes in the author’s note, “At the end of the day, we are more similar than different. People are people.” Such a wonderful message for students, and people of all ages, to keep in mind! Tonatiuh tells a tale of two cousins, Carlitos and Charlie, one living in America and one living in Mexico, that have never met before. They write letters back and forth sharing stories about how different their cultures and daily ...more
Feb 18, 2011 Whitney rated it liked it
2011 honor book for the Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Award honoring a Latino illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience.

I'm glad to see that this is under the illustrator section rather than the author section of the Pura Belpré award because I felt the story was a bit bland. I appreciate that Spanish words were used in the sentence and they were basically defined by putting the word next to a picture of the object (similar to a picture dict
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I was born in Mexico City and grew up in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I received my BFA from Parsons School of Design and my BA from Eugene Lang College, both of them divisions of the New School University in New York City.

My first picture book "Dear Primo, a letter to my cousin" is published by H N Abrams and will be in stores March 1st, 2010.

My illustrations of the AH1N1 in Mexico were selecte
More about Duncan Tonatiuh...

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