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Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  777 ratings  ·  282 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 ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published March 1st 2010 by Harry N. Abrams
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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Apr 22, 2015 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
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin by Duncan Tonatiuh tells the story of a letter sent between two cousins. Carlitos lives in rural Mexico, while Charlie lives in urban America. The two boys share their daily lives, showing the differences but also the similarities between them. For example Carlitos rides his bike to school while Charlie rides the subway to school. The book ends when the two come to a mutual decision showing just how similar they are.

I found the art style of this book very
Sep 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Krysten Morgan
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Grade Levels: K-4
Themes: Cousins, letters, Mexico, city/town life
Major Award: Pura Belpre Award Honor Book (2011)

Summary- This book is told through the letters that two cousins, Charlie and Carlitos, write to one another. Charlie’s family, including Carlitos, lives in Mexico but he lives in America so, they have never actually met. They tell each other of the differences in their lives: one rides a bike while the other rides the subway, one eats quesadillas while the
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
Morgan Baumbach
Genre: Realistic Fiction Recommended grade level: 3-5 Format: Picture book

Major Awards: 2011 Pura Belpré Honor Book

Summary: Two young boys, cousins, act as pen pals. They write back and forth about their daily lives; one from Mexico, and the other living in the United States. The boys learn that although they are living in different countries, their lives are not all that different from one another.

PERSONAL RESPONSE: I love how this book incorporates mirroring aspects of two different
Apr 26, 2010 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
Kristen Ward
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Living in two different countries, two cousins Carlitos and Charlie, discover their lives are very similar. Through letters, the two cousins share what each of their daily lives are like. Carlitos lives in Mexico and Charlie lives in New York. The images do a great job of showing the visual differences between the two cities and how the boys live. Although their environments and cultures are different, the two cousins seem to share very similar experiences.

Through this story Tonatiuh has opened
Apr 25, 2015 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
Oct 07, 2013 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
Feb 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: differences
I used Dear Primo as a read in small groups with my ESOL students in first grade. We talked about the cultural differences and geography. The students really enjoyed the story. It is a true culturally responsive book to bring into the classroom.
Chacha Centeno
May 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Readers learn how, despite being in different countries, day-to-day life for two cousins is similar. I loved seeing how Mexican culture was shown in both Mexico and the United States, even if the states portrayed how it changed...a little. As always, Tonatiuh is an amazing illustrator.
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
neat little book where cousins in 2 different countries write each other letters. comparing and contrasting the differences between the places.
Dear Primo is a beautiful celebration of cultures and a reminder to us all that our differences are just an opportunity to learn from each other.
Tracey Armah
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The book Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin is 2010 children book written by Duncan Tonatiuh and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh.

This book is based on two cousins, Charlie and Carlitos, who exchange letters with each other. Charlie lives in the United States; his primo Carlitos lives in Mexico. They both write about familiar things they know, like friends, games, foods, and holidays. They both wish to meet each other someday. The illustrations are gorgeous, the color that are used are bright and
Rahul Holani
Dec 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
A nice children book depicting everyday life of two loving cousins, one living in Mexico while the other in America showing how different they are and in the end each of them dreaming of meeting each other.
David Morales
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ashley Frank
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: multicultural
This book was a interesting read that connected two cousins living in two different countries. I would have liked it to go into a deeper meaning but it displayed what the two cultures look like.
Nov 08, 2019 rated it liked it
We see the beginning of Tonatiuh’s stylized art in the day to day details of 2 cousins’ lives shared via letters. The real meat of the book is the author’s note at the end.
Rebeca Nelson
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Genre: Diverse Literature
Awards: Pura Belpre Award
Audience: 3rd through 8th grade

A. The culture in this book is Mexican culture, and compared to American culture.
B. Many events and customs are portrayed through this book. Some include how they live, how they get to school, what types of food they prepare, what they do on weekends and shopping days, mariachi bands, charros, Dia de los Muertos, and Posadas.
C. The culture is portrayed extremely positively. The book shows all the bright colors,
Tonya Peck
Mar 15, 2013 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
Olivia Evans
Plot Summary: This story starts off with a little boy, Charlie, who is very excited to have just received a letter from his cousin, Carlitos, whom he has never met and who lives in Mexico. Throughout the story, the two little boys tell each other about their lives and the differences between the two cultures. Carlitos tells Charlie that his family lives on a farm surrounded by mountains and trees where they grow and sell many things. Charlie explains to Carlitos that he lives in the city, ...more
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.
May 10, 2016 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 17, 2015 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
Tammi Peterman
Apr 21, 2015 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 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
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
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
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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