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Book Review: Before You Were Here, Mi Amor by Samantha R. Vamos



Before You Were Here, Mi Amor describes all the things that one family does to welcome a new child into the world. The story evokes the warmth and community of la familia through the acts of each member – mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, grandmother, and grandfather, as well as the family puppy. It is an ideal book not only for children who are curious about the time before they were born, but also for new and expecting parents. Spanish words are woven throughout the English text, and both the context and illustrations clarify the meaning of the Spanish words. There is also a colorful glossary at the end of the book.

Notably, grandparents play a central role in Before You Were Here, Mi Amor as both the grandmother (abuela) and grandfather (abuelo) are featured in more than one scene, preparing for their future grandchild’s birth. Before You Were Here, Mi Amor would be wonderful to share with a child about to have a new sibling.

Before You Were Here, Mi Amor by Samantha R. Vamos, Illustrated by Santiago Cohen
Viking Children’s Books, a Division of Penguin Young Readers Group
March 19, 2009
Price: $15.99/$17.99 CAN
Ages: 2-7
Pages: 29

“Best for Babies” – Parents magazine (May 2009)

“A tender love story about an extended family’s preparation for a new baby…. Descriptions of the loving family and their various tasks are given mostly in English, with some Spanish words seamlessly woven in and included in a glossary ….”
– School Library Journal

“A gentle and lovingly blended text provides a fluid telling with important and basic Spanish vocabulary woven into the English . . .” – Kirkus Reviews

“Generously speckled with Spanish phrases and illustrated in homey hot oranges, pinks and golds, this intimate account of a family’s industrious wait for a new baby radiates pure joy.” – Just One More Book!!

“A beautifully illustrated book that tells of a family’s preparations in the months leading up to a new baby’s birth, from the father building a rocking chair to siblings filling a bookcase with books. The text is sprinkled with Spanish words throughout with illustrations that show the meaning even without accessing the glossary in the back.  The book offers a modest introduction to a different language as well as an opportunity for those who are learning Spanish in preschool or kindergarten to practice.”  – The Oregonian

Samantha Vamos grew up on the East Coast, where she attended Georgetown Law and practiced law in the nation’s capitol. She later lived in the Windy City of Chicago for thirteen years, and in 2007, relocated with her husband, son, and mischievous cat to the Pacific Northwest. Before You Were Here, Mi Amor (Viking, 2009) is her first book. Her second book, The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred (Fall 2010) will be published by Charlesbridge and illustrated by children’s book illustrator and artist, Rafael López.


Samantha’s website, which provides all reviews, activities for children (including sample questions children may use to interview family members so that children can write their own story about the time before they were here), a contest, and more, is www.samanthavamos.com

A video trailer of her first book, Before You Were Here, Mi Amor may be viewed on her website or at https://tinyurl.com/beforeyouwerehere


Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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