Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Spanish Anyone! (FAMILY magazine reviews)

In the early fall we celebrate Hispanic Heritage. And during September, we set aside time to honor grandparents. Included in this delightful collection of books are family accounts that highlight Latino cultures and traditions. Also featured are blended and extended generations, and informal relationships. 
     These memorable tales showcase a variety of storytelling and kinds of stories. You can use these books to launch conversations about your own family history. Sharing experiences from childhood memories with your child(ren) can bring you closer to each other. 
     Take time to generate a storehouse of keepsakes. They can enrich your times together and fill your life with playfulness and laughter.

My Tata’s Remedies by Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford
Illustrated by Antonio Castro L.
            Not only is this an appealing story for young people, it’s also a useful book of home remedies. This captivating multi-generational story shows how flowers and other plants can be used to treat common hurts and illnesses.
Grandson Aaron watches as his Tata (grandpa) Gus, the neighborhood healer, helps a parade of family members and friends. They arrive asking for assistance; for bee-stings, rashes and burns to toothaches, fevers and eye infections. With roots in the American Southwest this book, in both Spanish and English, spotlights traditional practices and community building.
Colorful, expressive watercolors highlight both the injured individuals and the natural plants from which the treatments are made. A glossary of medicinal herbs and remedies with pictures, informal and scientific names, and cautions is included at the end.

Cinco Puntos Press, $17.95 (hardcover), $8.95 (paperback)
Interest Level: Grades 1- 3
This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.

Mango, Abuela and Me by Meg Medina

Illustrated by Angela Dominguez
            Mia speaks only a little Spanish (Espanol) and Abuela (Grandma) speaks almost no English. How will they talk together?
Mia has an idea sparked by a red feather that Abuela brought with her. It’s a way to keep the memory alive, of “a wild parrot that roosted in her mango trees” back home. In fact, Mia has several great ideas about how she and her Abuela can learn to talk with each other. But the parrot she and her mother get for Abuela as a gift, naming him Mango, is the delight of this story.
            Colorful, award winning illustrations in ink, gouache and marker are enhanced with “digital magic” to match the upbeat text. Expressive faces and body language communicate difficulties and successes of language barriers, familiar to many immigrant families.
            Award winner Medina easily introduces Spanish words into the text of this warm family story. This gives a strong sense of both cultural and generational variations. Context and sometimes an English translation of a phrase make this tale accessible. A Spanish-language edition is also available.

Candlewick Press, $15.99 
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2
This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.    

Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh
            Many people think the fight for school integration began with Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954. However, Mexican-American students experienced the integration of schools in California in 1947 (seven years earlier). This is the story of how that happened.
            In the summer of 1944, Sylvia Mendez and her family moved to Westminster. She and her brothers were excited to attend the school near the farm the family leased. Aunt Soledad took Sylvia, her brothers and their cousins to register.
But, they were told they “must go to the Mexican school.” This was in spite of the fact that the children and parents were all US citizens and spoke English. No one would explain to the Mendez’s why the children could not attend the school nearest their home. The two schools, clearly providing separate education, were not providing equal education, as required by law.
            Despite many local Mexican-Americans’ unwillingness to sign a petition, four other families did join the Mendez’s in a lawsuit. The successful suit received support from organizations as diverse as the NAACP, the American Jewish Congress, and the Japanese American Citizens League.
            Tonatiuh’s hand-drawn stylized illustrations are digitally colored and collaged. His use of images that suggest Mexican folk art is a captivating mix of indigenous and modern design.
            A useful author’s note explains the cultural and historical environment. Photos of Sylvia, her parents and the schools help readers make connections to real people. Additional backmatter includes a glossary, bibliography, and index. Especially interesting are the sources of the dialogue.

Abrams, $18.95 
Interest Level: Grades 1-3
This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.  

Little Gold Star: A Cinderella Cuento 
retold in Spanish and English by Joe Hayes 
Illustrated by Gloria Osuna Perez and Lucia Angela Perez
            Variations of Cinderella are found in cultures throughout the world. In this adaptation, well-respected storyteller Hayes credits the influence of familiar traditional versions from New Mexico.
            His upbeat retelling begins with Arcia’s suggestion to her widowed father that he marry a neighbor. This is because Margarita has kindly given Arcia treats.
Initially reluctant, he marries the widow, and all is well – at first. When he takes sheep to the mountain meadows however, Margarita changes and the stepsisters become quarrelsome.
Upon returning, the father gives each girl a young sheep to tend. Not surprisingly, Arcia’s sheep gets the best care. After shearing, she takes the wool to wash in the river. A swooping hawk snatches it away. At her cry, he replies in human speech, “Lift…up…your eyes…Look…where…I…fly-y-y.” When she does, a gold star attaches to her forehead.
Of course, the sisters are jealous of Arcia’s new face decoration. But, their encounters with the hawk are disastrous. And although Arcia does not attend the ball, the prince falls in love with her, as she peeks in the window.
The mother-daughter artist team use intense acrylics in a primitive style. Dramatic illustrations seamlessly partner with the text (in both informal Spanish and similarly engaging English). This distinctive retelling of a favorite tale offers readers easy access to Latino-Indigenous cultures of the American Southwest.
Cinco Puntos Press
Interest Level: Grades 1-3

More Terrific Tales

Kitchen Dance by Maurie J. Manning
Houghton Mifflin, $17.99 
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2
This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.

A Box Full of Kittens by Sonia Manzano
Illustrated by Matt Phelan
Atheneum, $17.99 
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 1
This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.

No comments:

Post a Comment