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Tia Isa Wants a Car

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  484 ratings  ·  124 reviews
A little girl pitches in to help her tía save up for a big old car - and take the whole family to the beach - in a story told with warmth and sweetness.

Tía Isa wants a car. A shiny green car the same color as the ocean, with wings like a swooping bird. A car to take the whole family to the beach. But saving is hard when everything goes into two piles - one for here and one
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published June 14th 2011 by Candlewick Press
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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I loved this book! The language and illustrations really spoke to me and the message is beautiful.

We read this in the Children's Book Group Picture Book Club for the "Financial Literacy" theme and it definitely speaks to the idea of earning money and saving money. I appreciate Isa's tenacity and spunk, especially in the face of naysayers, in holding fast to her dream of buying a car and working hard to achieve that dream. I also appreciate her niece's efforts to contribute to the car f
Sep 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this. I thought it would be all earnest, and kinda heavy, but it was joyful. Freedom & hope for a better future are things that make one smile, according to Medina and Munoz.

I appreciated that the concepts are both universal in the general sense, and also culturally specific in the details. I'd like to know which city, which beach, Isa lives in now, and which island the family is from. Something about the colors, yellows and teals and pinks, says Miami and
Tia Isa has one wish other than being reunited with her family far away, to have a car that will carry them to the beach. Money is tight though and much of her savings must go to her family back home. When her niece sees the difference between what Tia Isa has and what she needs she decides it’s time for her to help. In no time they have the car Tia Isa dreamed of and a perfect day at the beach.

This is a story that all ages will love from children to adults because of it’s beautiful illustration
Tía Isa Wants a Car by Meg Medina, illustrated by Claudio Munoz is the story of a little girl who pitches in to help her tía save up for a big old car, to take the whole family to the beach, when they are reunited again in the United States.

The text in a large font includes dialog and text in both English and Spanish. Among the Spanish words used are tía, un pisicorre, Sí, Así, Tío, Rrrridículo, señor, niña, español, la vieja, mi vida, Abuelo, Mami, Papi, besito, vamos, ese mismo, mi hija, los p
Apr 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Teaching recommendation: 3rd grade Economics unit

Tia Isa is a lady living with her brother and niece. She is a Latina immigrant possibly from Puerto Rico, or Cuba, the book doesn’t really say. Tia Isa wants to buy a car to take them to the beach. “A beach has foamy water that reaches all the places I cannot go.” She says. Tia Isa wants the color of the car to be “the same shiny green as the color of the ocean that lapped outside her window when she was a girl. When Tia Isa was a girl, the air on
Sarah Collins
Oct 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Book Title: Tia Isa Wants a Car by Meg Medina

Description: Tia Isa wants to buy a car to take the family to the sea. She scrapes up her money but it isn’t enough. Her niece (the narrator) happens upon odd jobs and surprises her aunt with enough money to buy the car and go to the sea.


1) Show-Not-Tell: Meg Medina does a great job of show-not-tell, providing a good model for students.


CCSS.W.3.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective techniq
Jul 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
This story is reminiscent of A Chair for My Mother, with Latina heroines. The financial (and feminist) struggles of the determined pair make you root for them throughout the book. At first, I really didn't think much of the book or the illustrations (watercolors in children's books have to work hard to win me over). But it's the kind of book that teaches you NOT to judge it by its cover. It really does get better and better the more you read it, think and talk about it. The characters are strong ...more
Sandra Rivera
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In Tía Isa Wants a Car by Meg Medina and Illustrated by Claudia Muños, an example of a modern-day family isn't clearly expressed to children. In this story, the little girl lives with her Tía (aunt) Isa and her brother Tío (uncle) Andrés. It doesn't give much background as to why she lives with them only that she doesn't live with her parents because the text expresses, "That's our helping money, which we will send back home--along with notes and pictures so Mami can see how I've grown." In toda ...more
Sep 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
I first heard of Meg Medina when our oldest came home from school and told me that everyone in her grade was assigned to read Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass.

Then I was assigned to watch a video of a panel discussion she was part of at the Politics and Prose bookstore in DC, during which her books were mentioned. And finally, I see that this book was selected for our picture book club (see below). So I figured that I was destined to read her books.

I really appreciated the concept of savin
Love, love, love this! It is reminiscent of A Chair for My Mother. Tia Isa decides she wants to buy a car. A green car that can take them to the ocean and will remind her of the island she left to come to America. Tio Andres says she is ridiculous. But Tia Isa saves and her niece, the narrator, finds ways to help. It takes effort and time and patience and determination, but finally they have saved enough to buy a car.

I love the illustrations and the incorporation of some Spanish words into the t
Mar 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: pbf-vehicles
This was a very good book about saving money and waiting until one has enough to purchase the wanted item. It also showed the young girl proactively getting odd jobs to save up even more money. So through hard work and patience, the two save up enough money for a used car that can carry everyone to the beach. Nowhere in the book does it state where Tia Isa and her niece are living; possibly New York city; and nowhere does it state where the rest of the relatives are who want to join them. Possib ...more
Marissa Elera
Tia Isa wants a car for freedom and the family but times are tough. Her enterprising young niece has a way to help, though.

Gorgeous, succinct prose pairs with equally expressive illustration in this beautiful picture book. The immigrant experience is handled with elegance and sophiscation, making all audiences, Latino or non-Latino, feel included and invested. Suggest to: patrons who want books about family, transportation, multiculturalism, the immigrant experience, books with great illustratio
Edward Sullivan
May 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Charming, warm story about two sisters who work hard to save enough money to buy a used car that they can use to drive the family to the beach.
Dec 01, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was terrible. I had to read it for Spanish calls, and it was bad.
Oh, this is lovely.
Cindy Gerwin
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the picture book we used as a mentor text during the TCRWP Reading Institute. Lots of lessons embedded in this book: character development, setting, inferring, etc.
Sep 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-1-10

Tia Isa wants a car. She wants a green car that reminds her of the ocean from the island she grew up on. It must include giant wings on the back of the car to look like they are flying. Tia Isa’s brother thinks that her plan is crazy. Tia Isa’s pulls out a pile of money in one pile is money that is to be sent home to her mother and the other pile is for her car fund. She finds a car, but she does not have enough money. She says that she hopes that she will have money soon. Senor Leo give
Lynne Edwards
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
This picture book starts out with a girl and her aunt hoping they could one day get a car to be able to go to the beach. The aunt and her brother were making money in order to send back home to their families. They did not really have the means to get a car and the uncle called them crazy. However, through a lot of work on both the aunt and the girl's part, they were able to buy a car. They picked one that had enough room for all three of them, plus the family that would one day come to
Taylor Nelson
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is about a little girl who helps her aunt buy a car. They want a car in order to go to the beach. One of the main problems in the story is that they are not rich enough to be able to afford one. The little girl starts to collect money for her aunt in order to help purchase a car. Then one day they finally have saved enough money to help Tia Isa buy a car. When Tia Isa goes to buy a car, she does not want to have one that is luxurious. She wants one that is just good enough. Ev
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s
This is an interesting children's book for critical literacy discussions. Here is a list of several themes that appear in the book.
1. Language barrier - Tía Isa speaks limited English and needs her niece to act as her interpreter in some situations. The author is savvy in the use of some Spanish words (code-switching/trans-languaging) to add meaning to the language used in the dialogues.
2. Family - Tía Isa and her brother are the guardians of their niece. They send money to the family living ab
Shealee Dupree
"Tia Isa Wants a Car"- it's all in the title! The narrator, Isa's niece, is convinced they can get the green car she wants. Tia Isa explains that it will take lots of time and saving to be able to get just the one they want because half of their money goes back to "the island" where the narrator's parents are taking care of the grandparents. This does not discourage Isa's niece; she begins doing little jobs here and there for neighbors. Finally, there's just enough! Before long, they wil
Emma Leake
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-log-21-30
Tia dreams of going to the beach, but, she must save money to buy herself a car to be able to go. She dreams of what the drive would be like, but her brother makes fun of her. He says that walking around town is just fine instead of going to the beach. Tia ignored her brother, and she began to make a stack of money for her future car. But, her brother continues to put her dreams down. Again, Tia ignored him, and after she saved her money for a while, she went to buy herself a car, but un
Brianna Shaw
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-3090
Summary: Tia Isa is a young immigrant woman working at a bakery so she can send money back to her family abroad. She is also saving up money to buy a beautiful green car that she will be able to drive to the beach. Tia Isa’s niece notices her struggle to raise money for the car, so, in secret, she decides to help her aunt raise the money. Tia Isa’s niece begins performing odd jobs around the neighborhood to raise enough money to help her aunt. Both girls have the image of the whole family travel ...more
Chloe Thomason
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Summary: Tia Isa wants a car. She wants a car to drive her family to the beach. The narrator of the story describes how her Tia Isa decided she wants sea green car that reminds her of the island her family is from. The young narrator's uncle thinks this is a silly idea and Isa is out to prove him wrong. The young girl watches her aunt balance saving for her car and sending money home to their family on the island. She decides to help Tia Isa out by doing jobs for neighbors and those in her commu ...more
Sydney Bramblett
In this story, Isa's niece believes that her Aunt, or Tia Isa, can get the green car that she wants. Tia Isa tells her niece that it will take a lot of money and time to collect the money, because half of their money goes to help take care of her grandparents. This does not stop Isa's nice. She begins to do many small jobs, until finally she has earned enough money to buy the car for her Tia. Soon they are sitting on the beach, hoping the rest of the family can do the same soon.
Kathleen O'Dell
This book is a Children’s Autobiographical book that portrays a girl and her aunt and uncle who live together, when the rest of the family still lives far away and is trying to rejoin them. The aunt wants to buy her first car, so that when the rest of family comes, she can drive them all to the beach. However, she does not have enough money. The girl helps her aunt save up money and takes on small jobs to do so. The story draws in children with the complex story-line and helps them to think abou ...more
Sydney Chassion
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-1-10
A young girl reminisces on how wonderful her Aunt is and how much she adores the stories she hears of her life before America. All her Aunt Isa desires is to have a car. They visit the lot, and imagine what it will be like when they finally accomplish this dream. Isa's brother, Andre, calls her crazy, but in the end, her niece and her save all of their money and finally live out dear Tia Isa's dream of buying a car.

This was a wonderful depiction of a multicultural book, in tha
Makayla Kittelson
Summary: Tia Isa wants a car so that she and her family can go to the beach. Tia Isa's brother teases her saying that she can't get a car but that they can walk in their town. Instead Tia Isa proves him wrong by picking up different jobs here and there to save up money for the car. Eventually Tia Isa saves up enough money to buy the car for her family. She chooses a green convertible car that has no air conditioner or radio but is perfect for her family. They buy the car and then go to the beach ...more
Summer Norton
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Tia Isa Wants a Car is about a young Hispanic girl who is in the United States with her aunt and uncle. Tia Isa is the little girl's aunt and she wants a car, but it is hard for them to save the money up for one because they are paying bills and sending money back to their family at the island. The little girl wants to help her aunt get a car, so she goes around the neighborhood and finds a few tasks that her neighbors are willing to pay her for. Once the girl has saved enough money to f
Marley Stowers
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Tia Isa is a Hispanic woman who lives in the United States. She wants a car so that she can take her family to the beach. However, her money is shared between bills, and being sent to her family back home, making it impossible for her to save up for a car. When her niece realizes her wish and financial struggles, she begins to do small jobs around the neighborhood to help save up for a car. After working hard for a while, she brings the money to Tia Isa and they combine their savings to
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I'm Meg Medina, Newbery award-winning author of the New York Times bestselling novel Merci Suárez Changes Gears.

I am a Latina author of libros for kids of all ages. I'm about strong girls, tough circumstances, and the connecting power of culture. I am the author of several picture books, middle grade books, and young adult novels, including Burn Baby Burn which was long-listed for the 2016 Nation

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