Tag Archives: latinx culture

Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border

Written by: Mitali Perkins

Illustrated by: Sara Palacios

For ages: 3-8 years

Language: English & some Spanish

Topics Covered: Family, Immigration, Border Patrol, POC-Centric Narratives, Latinx, Mexican-American, Culture & Traditions, Love, Growing Up, Global Community.

Summary: Even though this is a story centering around Christmas, we felt the need to share it sooner rather than waiting for December to come around!

This is a beautiful and emotional story about a family that is separated by a border.  Maria, her brother Juan, and their mother live in the United States.  Their Abuela lives in Mexico.  Around Christmas, they take a bus to a certain part of the border where groups of people can meet through a fence for half hour chunks of time.  They are separated by this large fence, it’s a time that Maria looks forward to.  Though the time is brief, Maria and Juan are so glad to see their Abuela, and get her kisses on their fingertips through the fence.  When their visit time is up, Maria tries to pass a scarf that she knit through the fence, but a border patrol officer stops her.  Juan begins to cry that he can’t pass through a picture he drew for Abuela, and the trio goes back to the beach.  Maria has an idea that might get their gifts to Abuela without completely breaking the rules about passing things through the fence, but will she be able to pull it off?

This is a poignant story about families separated, but still trying to share an important holiday together.  Maria and her brother are a fictional family, but they are celebrating La Posada Sin Fronteras, which is a real festival put on during Las Posadas in the border enforcement zone in San Diego.  I really enjoyed the author’s note in the back, which talks about the logistics of this yearly event when families on different sides of the border come together to celebrate together.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

largeMitali Perkins has written twelve books for young readers, including Between Us and AbuelaForward Me Back To You,You Bring the Distant Near, and Rickshaw Girl, all of which explore crossing different kinds of borders. She was honored as a “Most Engaging Author” by independent booksellers across the country and has addressed a diversity of audiences in schools and libraries, as well as at festivals and conferences. Mitali was born in Kolkata, India before immigrating to the United States. She has lived in Bangladesh, India, England, Thailand, Mexico, Cameroon, and Ghana, studied Political Science at Stanford and Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley, and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.

sara_palacios-2Sara Palacios studied Graphic Design at Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico DF, and has an Associate Degree in Graphic Production Techniques from the School of Design, INBA  (National Institute of Fine Arts) in Mexico. She also has an Associate Degree in Illustration from the Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana, as well as a BFA and MFA in Illustration from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She has been a part time faculty member at the Academy of Art University since 2014. She is the recipient of the 2012 Pura Belpré Illustration Honor Award and the 2013 Tejas Star Book Award.

 

Soldier for Equality: José de la Luz Sáenz and the Great War

Written & Illustrated by: Duncan Tonatiuh

For ages: 7-11 years

Language: English & Spanish

Topics Covered: Historical Events, Latinx, Mexican-American Culture, Historical Figure, POC-Centric Narratives, WWI, Activism, Activist, Own Voices.

Summary: Luz was born in America, but his family was of Mexican descent.  He is teased for it, and sometimes gets in fights.  When Luz grows up he becomes a teacher and after a long day of teaching children, he teaches night classes to illiterate adults.  He becomes frustrated at the lack of access to supplies in his school simply because he teaches Mexican students.  Luz decides to join the army to demonstrate that Mexican-Americans love their country as much as the white Americans did, and Luz decided to fight during WWI.  He is sickened when he meets others who experienced racism along with him, and is frustrated by the fact that he is taunted by white soldiers in the barracks when they’re supposed to be a united front fighting against the injustices occurring in Europe.

When he goes to France, Luz decided to learn French to be able to keep up with the news.  He soon became a translator and is stationed in a hole underground receiving and translating messages.  Luz thinks about how education has literally built a protective wall around him, and is grateful.  He also becomes an English teacher for other soldiers, most of the Mexican-American like himself! When he returns home, things are not better for the average Mexican-American person like himself, so he began to start organizations dedicated to equity and break down barriers for his community.

This book is beautiful, and gives a lot of detailed historical information about World War I.  Luz is a figure that tried his best to help others and be respected in the process, hoping that if people saw past stereotypes about Mexican-Americans, he would make life better for all.  He began the League of United Latin American Citizens and was involved with many civil liberties organizations throughout the duration of his life.  In the back is a glossary, author’s note, timeline of events, and an index.

This book great, and we love all of Duncan Tonatiuh’s work!  While definitely for elementary aged children because of the talk of war, harm, and specific historical details, it is a great representation of an individual who was patriotic as well as an activist.  We need more books about figures that started grassroots organizations in a quest to make life better for marginalized communities, and this book is a fantastic addition!

About the Author & Illustrator:

duncan-tonatiuhDuncan Tonatiuh (toh-nah-tee-YOU) is the author-illustrator of The Princess and the Warrior, Funny Bones, Separate Is Never Equal, Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote, Diego Rivera: His World and Ours and Dear Primo. He is the illustrator of Esquivel! and Salsa. His books have received multiple accolades, among them the Pura Belpré Medal, the Sibert Medal, The Tomás Rivera Mexican-American Children’s Book Award, The Américas Award, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award and the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award. Duncan Tonatiuh is both Mexican and American. He grew up in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and graduated from Parsons School of Design in New York City. His artwork is inspired by Pre-Columbian art, particularly that of the Mixtec codex. His aim is to create images and stories that honor the past, but that are relevant to people, specially children, nowadays.

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez

Written by: Andrea Beaty

Illustrated by: David Roberts

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English, minor Spanish. 

Topics Covered: Community Action, Environmentalism, Girls Outdoors, Creativity, Feminism, Girls in Leadership, Latinx, Activism. 

Summary: 

Sofia Valdez loves her community, and she especially loves helping her community be better.  When her Abuelo injures his ankle slipping on trash and can’t walk Sofia to school anymore, she decides to do something about it and open a park for the neighborhood to enjoy.

We love that this book addresses fear that Sofia has about speaking in front of adults alone, when she’s a second grader.  But she believes in her cause and summons the courage despite being scared.  We really love this series, and in particular this book has very diverse illustrations.  The mayor is a person of color in a wheelchair, someone on the city committee is wearing all pink with fancy painted nails and a beard, another individual has a cochlear implant.  One of Sofia’s classmates is shown picketing and wearing a patka!  These illustrations are normalizing so many different ways of moving throughout the world, and they’re gorgeous.  Different body types are represented, and it doesn’t feel othering or tokenizing to have these diverse cast of characters living in Sofia’s neighborhood.  Ada, Iggy, and Rosie even make an appearance!  Overall, we’re so pleased to see where this book series is headed, and excited to see what comes next!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

andrea-beaty-photoAndrea Beaty was raised in southern Illinois in a town so small she knew everybody and their pets. And they all knew her. Andrea was one of six kids and we spent our summer days traipsing through the fields and forests hunting for adventure.  Always, it was fun and often, they laughed so hard they blew Orange Crush or Grape Nehi Soda out their noses. She still avoids Grape Nehi … just in case.

Andrea was a big reader as a kid and LOVED Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon Mysteries.  Then she moved on to Agatha Christie books and then the classics.  Don’t tell anyone, but her secret ambition is to star in a Broadway musical and Andrea is often tempted to break into song and dance at very odd moments. Mostly in the frozen food section of her grocery store!  They have very good lighting.

Andrea attended Southern Illinois University and studied Biology and Computer Science. After that, she worked for a computer software company. Andrea helped people with their computer problems (“Did you try turning it off and on again?”) and some technical writing. Andrea didn’t know at the time, but tech writing was great training for writing for kids because it taught her to be a fierce self-editor.

Now, she lives in Chicago with her family. Andrea visits lots of schools each year to share her love of reading and her writing journey with kids and educators.

davidroberts_website-2When David Roberts was at school, he claims he wasn’t very good at anything so the teacher would give me projects to produce big pictures for the school hall. He remembers doing one of Death rowing in a boat on the river Thames with a dead dog floating past!

David has always been drawing ever since he was a very small child and then when he left school at 16, he went to Art College. There, David did a foundation course trying out all different types of art practice. The thing David thought he wanted to do the most was costume and fashion design so he did a degree in fashion design.

David ended up being a children’s book illustrator and it was always his dream to do this! Although David tried to pursue a career as a fashion illustrator first. When he met Christine of Artist Partners she pointed out to him that he was drawing characters and perhaps he should focus more on publishing and in particular children’s books.

They Call Me Güero; A Border Kid’s Poems

Written by: David Bowles

Cover Art by: Zeke Peña

For ages: YA upper elementary/middle grades

Language: English & Spanish

Topics Covered: Growing Up, Mexican-American Experience, Immigration, Prejudice, Culture & Traditions, Poetry, Own Voices, Latinx. 

Summary: Our narrator is a twelve year old boy known only as Güero, a slang term/nickname for a person with red hair and freckles.  He lives near the border of Mexico, and goes on the weekends to the market to buy groceries and visit family.  This book of poetry gives short snippets and vignettes in the life of Güero, including his introduction to poetry from his seventh grade teacher.  Bowles skillfully interjects these light topics of life in Texas with more introspective and difficult subjects such as immigration, racism, and prejudice.  This book is excellent, it’s great to see a main character’s perspective that is often underrepresented, especially in poetry. Güero’s life experience is a very specific area of the country, and we don’t know enough about it from a young person’s perspective.

About the Author & the Cover Artist:

David-Bowles-cpp-CROPPED-lo-res-768x679David Bowles is a Mexican-American author from south Texas, where he teaches at the University of Texas Río Grande Valley. He has written several titles, most notably The Smoking Mirror (Pura Belpré Honor Book) and They Call Me Güero (Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, Claudia Lewis Award for Excellence in Poetry, Pura Belpré Honor Book, Walter Dean Myers Honor Book).

His work has also been published in multiple anthologies, plus venues such as Asymptote, Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine, Metamorphoses, Rattle, Translation Review, and the Journal of Children’s Literature.

In 2017, David was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters.

David’s literary representation is Taylor Martindale Kean and Stefanie Von Borstel of Full Circle Literary. His Hollywood representation is Sandra Ávila of Inclusion Management.

J1400x933-13422+copyZeke Peña makes comics and illustrations as an accessible way to remix history and explore complex issues. He was born in Las Cruces, NM and grew up in El Paso, TX. He has a degree in Art History from the University of Texas, Austin and is self-taught in drawing and painting. He has published work with VICE.com, Latino USA, The Believer Magazine, The Nib, Penguin Random House, Holt/Macmillan and Cinco Puntos Press. In 2018 he received the Boston Globe Horn Book Award for a graphic biography he illustrated titled Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide. His first children’s book My Papi Has a Motorcycle, written by author Isabel Quintero was published in 2019 by Kokila, a Penguin Young Readers imprint.

The Piñata that the Farm Maiden Hung

Written by: Samantha R. Vamos

Illustrated by: Sebastià Serra

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English & Spanish

Topics Covered: Latinx Identity, Rhyming, Hispanic Culture & Traditions,

Summary: This book reads like a rhyming poem, set up in a style that adds to the pages before to create mouthfuls of rhymes and jumbles.  It’s very similar to the song Ratlin Bog, if anyone is familiar with that!

The book goes through the steps in making a traditional piñata and teaches many different animal names in Spanish at the same time! The entire farm gets involved in braiding rope, making the paste, and decorating the piñata for the party. A goose stirs the paste, the cat shreds the paper, and the horse hauls the water! There are many other steps that require mammalian assistance, and the farm inhabitants are happy to oblige.   This is a pretty quick read, great to introduce vocabulary to young readers.

Serra’s illustrations are bright and cheerful, the way he gives the animal helpers personality will draw in a reader of any age.

Reflection Questions:

  • Have you ever seen or smashed a piñata?
  • Was it similar or different to the one in the story?
  • Why do you think so?
  • What was a new word you learned when hearing the story?

About the Author & the Illustrator: 

samantha-r-vamos-photoSamantha R. Vamos was born in Madison, Wisconsin, where her parents met during graduate school. Vamos grew up on the East Coast and attended Georgetown University Law Center and practiced law in Washington, DC and Chicago, Illinois. After, her family lived in the Pacific Northwest for ten years – with the funniest cat and the sweetest dog – before moving to beautiful Northern California. Writing has always been a passion. Vamos has written stories since she was a teen and publishing those stories was one of her greatest dreams. Vamos was most influenced to write by her mother. She loves writing stories for children!  BEFORE YOU WERE HERE, MI AMOR (Viking, 2009) was inspired by the birth of Samantha’s sister’s first child. THE CAZUELA THAT THE FARM MAIDEN STIRRED (Charlesbridge, 2011) popped into her head while she was cooking. She was inspired to write ALPHABET TRUCKS (Charlesbridge, 2013), after watching a zipper truck along a highway. ALPHABET TRAINS (Charlesbridge, 2015) and ALPHABET BOATS (2018) are companion books in the alphabet transportation series.
Six of Samantha’s favorite books (there are many more) include “Watership Down” by Richard Adams, “Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry, “The Power of One” by Bryce Courtenay, “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole, “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” by William Kotzwinkle, and “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger.Some children’s favorites include “Dinner at the Panda Palace” by Stephanie Calmenson, “One Hungry Monster” by Susan Heyboer O’Keefe, “Agent A to Agent Z” by Andy Rash, “Brave Irene” by William Steig, “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman, “Okay for Now” by Gary D. Schmidt, and the “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling.

sebastia-serra-largeSebastià Serra has illustrated more than seventy children’s books in Spain, Italy, France, UK, Portugal, Taiwan, Brazil and the United States. Also, he has worked as graphic designer for several television shows, family theater and many museums and cultural institutions.

Serra was selected three times for the M oyster degli Illustratori di Libri per ragazzi  at Bologna Children’s Book Fair and Also for the  Society of Illustrators of New York, in the Original Art exhibition: The Fine Art of Children’s Books Illustration.

He also took part in illustration exhibitions at  The Museum of American Illustration of New York,  Chicago Art Institute, Northwestern University of Illinois, Itabashi Art Museum of Tokyo , Korea  Society of Illustrators ,  International Illustrators Exchange of Prague and Frankfurt Book Fair.

He won the Mercè Llimona Prize, the Lola Anglada prize, the Serra d’Or Critics Prize, and twice Junceda Prizes by the Professional Association of Illustrators of Catalonia.

Sound Off Saturday Featuring: Mama Tortuga!

Happy Saturday!  We are thrilled to have been able to connect this week with Johana, also known as Mama Tortuga!  She is a powerhouse of bilingual and herbal activism and knowledge, with a flair for business.  Johana is a hustler and has tons of fantastic projects that she’s currently working on.  We hope you enjoy learning about them as much as we did!
The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself/your organization!f70d4b_5e94206b839e4548ac290c241396f086~mv2_d_1836_3264_s_2

Mama Tortuga: Hello, hola!! I am Johana usually called Mama Tortuga. I have created a bilingual website called www.mamatortuga.org to support and provide resources to families around the world, that want to raise free, eco-conscious, multilingual, global citizens. Our perspective is multicultural. We love to create community and to support communities that are working to create a better and improved world!!! I have a very eclectic point of view, from music and arts, to activism, to freedom, our family is here to support this and amplify those voices that need to be amplified!!!

TTA: What are you passionate about?

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Johana and her family- Photo Credit: @R Dot Photography

 

MT: Very passionate about a wholesome approach to live!! From intersectional feminism, mindful parenting, sustainability, arts, and love!!! I am a student of life!! I am also a lover of nature and work alongside my family in our small backyard garden.

TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!

 

Screen Shot 2019-07-27 at 12.05.09 PM
“Parenting is a spiritual practice. Social Activism is a spiritual practice”

MT: Right now I am working on creating ways to support myself, an immigrant Latina mother, and support other women in my community in learning and healing. Always looking for ways I can generate funds and spaces for us to grow!! Locally, I am offering Spanish and English social classes in the area of West Palm Beach, Fl. I am also on a local Spanish radio, where I support ancestral knowledge on herbals and multicultural traditions. Online, I am offering platforms to support resources for global and conscious families. Also, I am documenting much of my adventures, because I believe our voices are important, even if my English is not perfect!! Always showing solidarity with oppressed groups and searching for a different mindset for our world!!! Right now working on a class to be offered at the Florida Herbal Conference of next year in Spanish!!!

 

TTA: How can people support you on your journey?

 

20180926_132141
“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need”

MT: Thanks for asking this!! We offer a line of wonderful and original Mama Tortuga T-shirts on all sizes for you $21 for sizes S, M, L and $18 for children, includes shipping, we also offer custom orders for bigger sizes or special merchandise. Also, I would love to be offered jobs on translation, multicultural consultant and talks, that are paid. I had been doing a lot of these jobs in the past decade. Sadly, many times, we are not being acknowledged. Also, I would love to be part of online collabs and convos. It is about forming a supporting community!!!

 

TTA: What book was your favorite in 2019 so far?

MT: So hard to choose!! Going to mention some: The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Andrea Tutu, The Holly Wild by Danielle Dulsky and Jambalaya by Louisa Teish

Screen Shot 2019-07-27 at 11.55.22 AMTTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

MT: For my website to keep growing and new connections that make a reality the dreams I have about having a supportive community. That the passion that I have for justice and solidarity and healing can come to fruition in abundance of resources and love!!!f70d4b_6ed50d5703164302a09e00d41ac84851mv2.jpg

 

Stay Connected with Mama Tortuga!

Green, multicultural and mindful family

Spanish Conversational Groups 

Green is a Chili Pepper: A Book of Colors

Written by: Roseanne Greenfield Thong

Illustrated by: John Parra

For Ages: Ages 3 to 5

Language: English, Spanish

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Culture & Traditions, Latinx Culture, Community, Family, Love, Self-Expression.

GreenisaChiliPepper
“Orange are the marigolds on Day of the Dead. Orange are the platos for special bread”

Summary: Green is a Chile Pepper is a joyful celebration of the many colors found in latinx communities, from the orange marigolds for Dia de los Muertos to the blue of the ojo de dios craft that children create under a bright blue sky. Each new color is accompanied by a Spanish translation that is prominently visible on the page, and the illustrations feature children of color with diverse skin colors and gender presentations.

SLJ1401w_Libro-GreenIsAChiliPepper
“Yellow is masa we use to make tortillas, tamales, and sweet corn cake!”

From food (yellow masa corn tortillas) to parties (watch out for the pink piñata!) each page also offers up an array of Spanish vocabulary, and each italicized word can be found in the glossary at the end of the book.

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Descriptive Glossary

The glossary doesn’t just offer a translation, but goes above and beyond, including important information about Latinx culture that can broaden the readers perspective and understanding, even if they have never heard the words before.

Green is a Chile Pepper received the Pura Belpré Award Illustrator Honor for John Parra’s vibrant work, and won a Latino Book Award, and we can’t say enough about how fabulous it is! 

Reflection Questions:

  • What was your favorite color in the book?
  • What did you notice about the objects that the author picked to illustrate each color?
  • What was your favorite Spanish word in the book?
  • What are some other Spanish words you know?

Continuing the Conversation: 

  • Look at the rainbow and what objects do you think of? Create your own version of the story with your community in mind, and translate your special words into Spanish-what do those words sound like? (Note: google translate doesn’t always have the correct translation-do you have friends who may be able to tell you if they are wrong?)
  • Listen to songs in Spanish– what musicians do you like? Where does that music come from? Learn more about their culture!

 

indianagamexicohuicholand-peru
God’s Eyes from India (Naga), Mexico (Huichol) and Peru.

Create your own ojo de dios (“god’s eye”) which can be used to communicate with whatever spiritual connection you choose! Learn about the rich history of the god’s eye and how it can be found all over the world!

 

 

 

 

About the Author & the Illustrator: 

roseanne-potrait-1

 

Roseanne Greenfield Thong is a journalist and English teacher. She is the author of Round Is a Tortilla, Round Is a Mooncake, Red Is a Dragon, One Is a Drummer, and Wish. She lives in Fountain Valley, California.

 

 

JohnParraPortrait2010

John Parra is an award winning illustrator, fine artist, designer, and educator, best known for award-winning picture books. Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos (written by Monica Brown, NorthSouth Books) was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year, Pura Belpré Honor for Illustration, Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature Best Book, and Smithsonian Best Book of the Year. John has received many awards and honors including three Pura Belpré Honors for Illustration, two SCBWI Golden Kite Awards for Illustration, and The Christopher Award, among many others. is an award-winning illustrator, artist, educator, and designer. His illustrations are featured in When Thunder Comes and Round Is a Tortilla. His Hispanic roots and heritage provide a rich cultural palette of inspiring imagery and customs. He lives in Jamaica, New York.