Written by: Rigoberto González
Illustrated by: Cecilia Concepción Álvarez
For Ages: 7-10 years
Language: Bilingual English/Spanish
Topics Covered: Children of LGBT Parents, Latinx, Family, Courage, Acceptance.
Summary: This is a sweet bilingual book about a boy named Antonio that is worried about Mother’s Day at his school, and how his mother’s girlfriend Leslie will be accepted. Antonio’s mother works late, so Leslie picks him up from school. She is a tall artist, and has very short hair. One day at dismissal, Antonio hears some kids making fun of Leslie and he becomes incredibly embarrassed. The next day, Antonio’s teacher announces that everyone’s cards will be displayed in the cafeteria. Antonio is not embarrassed about the two mother-figures he has, it is that his classmates call Leslie “the rodeo clown” because she often wears paint-stained overalls. Antonio decides to have a conversation with his mother about it, and she asks him what Leslie looks like. Antonio thinks carefully, and answers “Leslie dresses and walks like Leslie”. His mother agrees, and says that everyone is a little different from each other. The conversation ends with Antonio’s mother saying he is old enough to make a decision for himself about whether or not to display the card. He decides to put the card up, but doesn’t want to stick around after school. Antonio asks Leslie to take him to her art studio and wait for his mother there. At the studio, Antonio sees a portrait that Leslie has painted of their family. He thinks about everything Leslie does for their family, and feels lucky. Antonio tells Leslie he has a surprise for her, and they walk back to his school to view the card display.
This book is very realistic, and one of the first LGBT bilingual books that were recommended to me. It would be helpful in a bilingual program, an immersion classroom, or language class. Some of the figure illustrations are a bit clunky and stiff, but the message and audiences reached are more important. To have Latinx individuals creating LGBT and Latinx characters is a crucial intersection in children’s literature, and I would love to see more of them.
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Rigoberto González (he/him) is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Unpeopled Eden, which won the Lambda Literary Award and the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets. His ten books of prose include two bilingual children’s books, the three young adult novels in the Mariposa Club series, the novel Crossing Vines, the story collection Men Without Bliss, and three books of nonfiction, including Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa, which received the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. He also edited Camino del Sol: Fifteen Years of Latina and Latino Writing and Alurista’s new and selected volume Xicano Duende: A Select Anthology. The recipient of Guggenheim, NEA and USA Rolón fellowships, a NYFA grant in poetry, the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, The Poetry Center Book Award, and the Barnes & Noble Writer for Writers Award, he is contributing editor for Poets & Writers Magazine and writes a monthly column for NBC-Latino online. Currently, he is professor of English at Rutgers-Newark, the State University of New Jersey, and the inaugural Stan Rubin Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the Rainier Writing Workshop. In 2015, he received The Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Publishing Triangle. As of 2016, he serves as critic-at-large with the L.A. Times and sits on the Board of Trustees of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP).
Cecilia Concepcion Alvarez (she/her) was born in National City, California. Her mother is Mexicana and her father is Cubano. Cecilia was raised between San Diego, California, USA and Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. This cultural and political mix inspired much of her work. Ms. Alvarez is a self-taught artist. Her work reflects her perspective on being a Chicana/Latina. She is primarily a painter who has also created large public art. Ms. Alvarez has worked extensively with youth in creating murals and cultural awareness. Cecilia has been invited to lecture on the symbology of her artwork throughout the United States and is featured in many private collections. Her work has been shown regionally, nationally and internationally. Ms. Alvarez is committed to create discourse through her art, on issues of entitlement, poverty and who is expendable in our collective. She hopes this discourse will create a new and healthier perspective on what is beauty, power and important to our societies. Ms. Alvarez currently lives in Seattle with her husband and two lovely young adult children.