2 Picture Books About…Pen pals

Dear Primo and Same Same but Different

“Dear Primo” by Duncan Tonatiuh and “Same, Same but Different” by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw would make great classroom books because of their focus on cultural exchange. The premise is in each is simple: two boys in different countries write each other letters comparing and contrasting various elements of their lives.

For instance, in “Dear Primo,” when Carlitos tells his cousin about riding his bicycle past dogs and cacti on his way to school in Mexico, Charlie counters with a description of a riding a subway, which “is like a long metal snake, and it travels through tunnels underground.” They go on to compare favorite snacks, games, holidays and more. Throughout the text, Carlitos’ notes are peppered with Spanish terms, like¬†cohetes¬†(fireworks), explained in a glossary at the back.

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