Lights, Camera, CARMEN! – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Get ready for a strong, character-driven story. Meet CARMEN. But who’s that kid in the background? Oh yeah, her little brother, Eduardo.

Image Copyright Lorena Alvarez Gómez

Everything we need to know about the relationship between Carmen and Eduardo is shown on the title page:

Image Copyright Lorena Alvarez Gómez

She is the star. He is her eager acolyte.

On the first spread, it’s made even more clear.

“Carmen is a star of the stage…and living room.”

Image Copyright Lorena Alvarez Gómez

At the end of Carmen’s performance, Eduardo showers her with cereal, instead of flowers. Oops.

When Carmen spies a contest for appearing in a cereal commercial on Eduardo’s cereal box, the peripatetic girl abandons the theater and decides to pursue a film career.

She devises a plan to enter the contest, and when Eduardo asks “Can I help?” she makes him her cinematographer. Later he mispronounces this term in a funny, younger sibling-esque way.

Carmen struggles to think of a “showstopping” contest entry, explaining the term “showstopper” to Eduardo. Again, that term will crop up later.

When her plan turns into an enormous green smoothie mess, mother suggests they’re done for the day. But Carmen insists:

“A true artist overcomes rejection.” She devises another plan, one that includes a dance number, including sixteen grand jetés, a tango, and some jazz hands.

Eduardo keeps the camera rolling, sometimes sneaking into its line of sight. Then its “a wrap” and Carmen waits….

A letter arrives, saying they want Eduardo, not Carmen, for the commercial.


Carmen now knows what it’s like to have a younger sibling steal the show.

But Eduardo sees how sad his big sister is, so he does his best to make amends. He shows her he’s her “biggest fan” by sending a peace offering via their father, then says he “doesn’t want to be a showstopper.”

Carmen’s reply is apropros:

“Haven’t I told you the most important rule of show business?”

“Don’t throw cereal at you?”

“Not that one,” says Carmen. “The most important one is: The show must go on.”

Then Carmen, ever the imaginative opportunist, announces her next career, being Eduardo’s agent.

Funny and sweet, with a diverse family and a sprinkling of big words that are defined in the moment, as well as some Spanish words, this is a great addition to any kid’s library.


Title: Lights, Camera, CARMEN!

Author: Anika Denise

Illustrator: Lorena Alvarez Gómez

Publisher: Abrams, 2018

Ages: K-3

Theme: siblings, role-playing. overcoming disappointments 

For more perfect picture books, visit Susanna Hill’s blog where authors, teachers, and librarians make more recommendations, including resources/activities.

21 thoughts on “Lights, Camera, CARMEN! – Perfect Picture Book Friday

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Yes! So, so true. Little brothers are a handful (but sweet, too). I’ve got my own version of the big sister-little brother story circulating. It’s a favorite topic because the issue is so relatable. Cheers!

  1. Patricia Tilton says:

    Such an entertaining story with an ending that surprised me. Love it! Many children will identify with this story in some way! Can’t think how I used my brother as my sidekick as a child when I put on plays.

  2. Sue Heavenrich says:

    What fun! And what an interesting resolution to what could have been a sticky family drama. I love your activities, too.

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