Community Highlight: Anansesem Introduces Starred Review

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Hi all,

The summer months may seem quiet at times, but really there’s a veritable buzz of activity.  In the world of children’s literature, authors, illustrators, publishers, reviewers, librarians, and even teachers (whose summer breaks are rarely ever actual breaks) are hard at work pushing for diversity, representation and accuracy. Anansesem is in this vanguard.

A brief aside for those unfamiliar with the organization. In their own words,

Anansesem is an online magazine devoted to Caribbean children’s and young adult literature written by both new and established writers. It was founded in 2010 to encourage the writing and illustration of Caribbean literature for and by young people. Major issues are published twice a year in .pdf format while guest posts and online-only features are published throughout the year. 

We are proud to have published some of the most distinctive and distinguished voices in Caribbean literature for young people. Previous contributors to the ezine have included Alix Delinois, Floella Benjamin, Ibi Zoboi, Itah Sadu, Lynn Joseph, Margarita Engle, Nadia L. Hohn, Olive Senior, Tracey Baptiste, Vashanti Rahaman and Verna Wilkins. 

The ezine invites submissions of Caribbean short stories, poetry and illustrations for children regardless of the geographical location of either the author or characters. We also publish book reviews, interviews and non-fiction. Submissions by Caribbean citizens get first priority.

We’re huge fans of Anansesem here at Vamos a Leer, and frequently turn to them to help contextualize and better understand the Caribbean literature that crosses our desks. Their latest announcement has us even more over the moon than usual. They’ve introduced starred reviews! This means that they’re putting the power of meaningful and informed reviews back in the hands of the Caribbean community. Read more about why they’re doing this, what they aim to achieve, and how they’ll go about it, in the announcement from Summer Edward, Anansesem editor-in-chief: Introducing the Anansesem Starred Review (And Giving Caribbean Books For Young People The Reviews They Deserve).

Their May issue (forthcoming) introduces starred reviews for Marti’s Song for Freedom / Martí y sus versos por la libertad by Emma Otheguy and Beatriz Vidal, The Field by Baptiste Paul and illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara, All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Mike Curato, and Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender. The issue also includes, among other items, spotlights on illustrators Lulu Delacre and Rosa Colán Guerra. Check their website for the full PDF (nominal cost associated) or a free sample of the publication.

Happy reading,
Keira

Catching our Breath and Celebrating the Américas Award

Dear fellow readers,

Summer is most certainly upon us now, with just about every classroom emptied of students and community libraries filled with youth reading summer book lists.

Here at our Vamos a Leer offices at the University of New Mexico, everything is extra quiet after a busy year. Some of our nearest and dearest student bloggers, including Alin and Kalyn, have graduated this term from their master’s program with us, and are moving on to new adventures; our last student blogger, Santiago, is thankfully still with us one more year, but at the moment is tthrough Mexico and Spain, among other places; our education consultant and blogger-in-chief, Katrina, is catching up to life after a wonderful year in the classroom; and I am spending these  days trying to catch up on reading and mapping out our titles for the coming year (it’s a hard life, eh?!). person-2468249_1920Yet even while this feels a bit calmer than the frenetic school year, there’s still much afoot just outside our doors in the world of children’s literature. The Américas Award was just announced in Spain, for example, as part of the annual congress of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), with four of our absolutely favorite writers acknowledged as the top recipients. Winners include Ibi Zoboi’s American Street and Duncan Tonatiuh’s DANZA! , and Honorable Mentions include Margarita Engle and Mike Curatos’s All the Way to Havana and Ruth Behar’s Lucky Broken Girl. Plus there’s a whole list of Commended Titles that are either already on our shelves (hello, Bravo!, Marti’s Forest World, Song for FreedomRubén Darío, Lucia la luchadora, among others) or just crying out to be read (The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora, The First Rule of Punk, Sing Don’t Cry, and more).

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Here at Vamos we’re fortunate to support the Américas Award through our university’s involvement with the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs, and we’re particularly excited to be a part of it in 2018 because the award is celebrating 25 years! Stay tuned for details about anniversary celebration activities during Hispanic Heritage Month.

All of which is to say, we’re still here! Drop us a line, give us some ideas, ask us some questions, and join us in delving into summer books.

Happy reading,
Keira

Reading Roundup: 6 LGBTQIA Latinx Books for Young Readers

Buenos días! In light of LGBTQIA Pride month, we decided to extend our writing schedule into June and provide you with a Reading Roundup of LGBTQIA Latin American/Latinx children’s books. We decided to focus specifically on children’s books rather than include YA titles because it seems books for younger readers are particularly scarce and difficult to find. In effect, we wanted to do the legwork for you!

In our search we came across the following useful websites for discovering other books that intersect Latinx and LGBTQ themes:

Another resource we want to point out to you is an animated series created in 2017 by Somos Familia. It documents a Latinx family’s journey in understanding the coming out of their gay son. It has 15 episodes and is in Spanish with English subtitles.

Sometimes we find books that seem interesting, but we don’t include them in our roundup unless we can actually read and review a hard copy! This proved particularly so for this search! Of the many that we were unable to review personally, here are a few that made the top of our list. Based on the information we could find online, they look promising!

  • ¿Camila tiene dos mamas?, written by Peruvian Verónica Ferrari and illustrated by Mayra Avila. I found the book read aloud in Spanish online, which I recommend checking out. Also, In this video you can see Avila’s process of illustrations, and in another video you can hear an interview with Ferrari. This book received a lot of attention in Peru.
  • Olívia tem dois papais, written in Portuguese by Márcia Leite and illustrated by Taline Schupach.

Most importantly, for the teachers who may not feel comfortable teaching this subject, especially with young readers, here are articles to prompt reflection and resources to help you on the way:

And now, without further ado, here are the best titles we came across that would help young readers with this topic:


One of a Kind Like Me/Único como yo
Written by Laurin Mayeno
Illustrations by Robert Liu-Trujillo
Translations by Teresa Mlawer
Published by Blood Orange Press
ISBN: 9780985351410
Age Level: 4-7

Tomorrow is the school parade, and Danny knows exactly what he will be: a princess. Mommy supports him 100%, and they race to the thrift store to find his costume. It’s almost closing time – will Danny find the costume of his dreams in time? One of A Kind, Like Me / Único como yo is a sweet story about unconditional love and the beauty of individuality. This unique book lifts up children who don’t fit gender stereotypes, and reflects the power of a loving and supportive community.

My thoughts:
I loved this book and its statement of the importance of love, respect and understanding. Through this book, we see the possibilities of fun and happiness when one embraces both bravery and acceptance. This book is filling an important gap in children’s literature, showing the liberation that Danny feels when he is true to himself and his identity even as a young child, demonstrating that gender need not prevent us from feeling happy, comfortable and free. I appreciated the note at the end of the book with the photos and story of the original Danny who inspired the story. The author, Laurin Mayeno, is Danny’s mother, and she and Danny wrote this story together. Robert Liu-Trujillo’s illustrations are beautiful, soft and filled with color; they complement the story perfectly. Mayeno is a major proponent for supporting diverse families like her own. In the author’s note, Mayeno offers the website she founded, outproudfamilies.com, as a great resource for diverse families. I also suggest checking out Maria Ramos-Chertok’s review of the book on one of our favorite sites, Latinx in Kid Lit. In this review, Ramos-Chertok offers teaching tips for using the book in the classroom.

Antonio’s Card/La tarjeta de Antonio
Written by Rigoberto González
Illustrations by Cecilia Concepción Álvarez
Published by Children’s Book Press
ISBN: 9780892392049
Age Level: 7-10

Antonio loves words, because words have the power to express feelings like love, pride, or hurt. Mother’s Day is coming soon, and Antonio searches for the words to express his love for his mother and her partner, Leslie. But he’s not sure what to do when his classmates make fun of Leslie, an artist, who towers over everyone and wears paint-splattered overalls. As Mother’s Day approaches, Antonio must choose whether or how to express his connection to both of the special women in his life.

Rigoberto González’s bilingual story resonates with all children who have been faced with speaking up for themselves or for the people they love. Cecilia Concepción Álvarez’s paintings bring the tale to life in tender, richly hued detail.

My thoughts:
In this bilingual story, Rigoberto González sensitively discusses situations with which young children of gender-diverse families are often confronted. In the story, Antonio has ambiguous feelings – he is self-conscious about the gender norms broken by his mother and her partner, Leslie, yet at the same time, he loves Leslie and is happy to have her in his life. Throughout his struggle, Antonio’s mother and Leslie are nothing but supportive and understanding; they do not push ideals onto Antonio, but show him constant love, which eventually overpowers Antonio’s self-conscious feelings. Furthermore, I like that this book brings to light the gendered aspect of holidays like Mother’s Day, offering multiple perspectives on how such holidays can help children celebrate diverse families. Cecila Goncepción Álvarez’s illustrations are beautiful and soft, reflecting the loving relationship between Antonio, his mother, and Leslie. Lee & Low Books also has a teacher’s guide for Antonio’s Card/La tarjeta de Antonio that we recommend checking out.

Call Me Tree/Llámame Árbol
Written & Illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez
Published by Lee & Low Books Inc.
ISBN: 9780892392940
Age Level: 6-10

What does it mean to be like a tree?
For one young child, it all begins
as a tiny seed
that is free to grow
and reach out to others
while standing strong and tall—
just like a tree in the natural world.

With this gentle and imaginative story about becoming your fullest self, Maya Christina Gonzalez empowers young readers to dream and reach . . . and to be as free and unique as trees.

Our thoughts:
This is a beautiful book about a gender-neutral child who beautifully grows into a tree. I love this book and believe that its messages of belonging and diversity, as well as the importance it gives to our connectedness with nature, are relatable and empowering for children. Its illustrations are also breathtaking. If you would like to read a more in-depth review of this book, please check out Lorraine’s post. Also, I recommend checking out the interview with Maya Christina Gonzalez about why she made the protagonist of Call Me Tree/Llámame Árbol gender neutral. Lee & Low Books also made a Teacher’s Guide to accompany the book.

Sparkle Boy
Written by Lesléa Newman
Illustrations by Maria Mola
Published by Lee & Low Books Inc.
ISBN: 9781620142851
Age Level: 4-8

Casey loves to play with his blocks, puzzles, and dump truck, and he also loves things that shimmer, glitter, and sparkle. Casey’s older sister, Jessie, thinks this is weird. Shimmery, glittery, sparkly things are only for girls. Right?

When Casey and Jessie head to the library for story time, Casey proudly wears his shimmery skirt and sparkly bracelet. His nails glitter in the light. Jessie insists that Casey looks silly. It’s one thing to dress like this around the house, but going outside as a “sparkle boy” is another thing entirely. What will happen when the other kids see him?

This sweet and refreshing story speaks to us all about acceptance, respect, and the simple freedom to be yourself. Shimmery, glittery, sparkly things are fun—for everyone!

My thoughts:
Just looking at the sparkly cover of this book, I was excited to read it. This book has been on our shelves for some time, and we’ve been eager for the chance to share it with you, our readers. While this book does not have as much Latinx content as other books on the list, it is a beautiful story that discusses issues of bullying from a standpoint that demonstrates the importance of family. It also demonstrates the importance of not passing judgments upon others, and shows the value of acceptance and the irrelevance of gender norms in a way that children will understand. Lee & Low books has a teacher’s guide for Sparkle Boy, which I recommend checking out. Enjoy!

Family Poems for Every Day of the Week/Poemas familiares para cada día de la semana
Written by Francisco X Alarc
ón
Illustrations by Maya Christina González
Published by Lee & Low Books Inc.
ISBN:
9780892392759
Age Level: 4-8

the first day                                         el primer día

of the week is                                       de la semana fue

dedicated to the Sun—                      dedicado al Sol—

with family around                              con familia alrededor

it’s always sunny                                 siempre hace sol

on Sunday                                           el domingo

So begins this bilingual collection of poems that takes us through the week day by day. Children spend Sunday visiting their grandparents, play with school friends on Monday, daydream on Tuesday, eat popcorn at the local market on Wednesday, and more, until we arrive at Saturday, when they get to play nonstop all day. Along the way, we also learn how the names of the seven days came to be.

Partly based on the real life experiences of Alarcón’s own family, this festive, celebratory collection of poems highlights the daily life of children while also honoring the experiences of the poet’s Latino family in the United States. With her vibrant illustrations, illustrator Maya Christina Gonzalez has created a loving tribute to childhood, to family, and to Francisco Alarcón, who passed away in January 2016.

My thoughts:
This is a beautiful book that illustrates the importance of love and family, and it also highlights the interconnectedness of ancient languages across the world and their connection to all of us today. While reading this book, I was overwhelmed by feelings of comfort and inclusivity. Family Poems for Every Day of the Week / Poemas familiares para cada día de la semana is not explicitly LGBTQIA, however, Francisco X Alarcón identified as gay and this book demonstrates that not all books that honor specific experiences, such as LGBTQIA experiences, need to explicitly label them. Sometimes we can just acknowledge individuality. Maya Christina González is a major promoter of gender rights and she and Alarcón worked on a number of books together. González made a five-week Gender Blog Series, which I recommend checking out. For a more in-depth review of this book, I suggest taking a look at the review that Beverly Slapin wrote for the De Colores blog. Lee & Low Books made a teacher’s guide for this book as well.

¡Eso no es normal!
Written by Mar Pavón
Illustrations by Laure du Fa
ÿ
Published by Nubeocho Ediciones
ISBN:
9788494413780
Age Level: 3 and up

El elefante tenía una trompa larguísima.
Con ella ayudaba a sus amigos,
pero el hipopótamo siempre se burlaba
–¡Eso no es normal!
Pero, ¿Qué es “normal”?

The elephant has a very long trunk.
With it he helps all his friends,
but the hippopotamus always mocks him and says:
“that’s not normal!”
But what is “normal”?

My thoughts:
This book was very fun to read and illuminates the special qualities that everyone has to offer, especially those that are less common. As the author and illustrator revealed the fun and ridiculous ways that the elephant used its long trunk, I was laughing out loud. This book is not only fun, but it does a great job at shedding a positive light on our differences and reveals important lessons about treating others with respect. While this book is neither Latin American/Latinx, it is written in Spanish and could be used in the Spanish classroom. And, similar to the preceding title, it does not specifically address LGBTQ issues, its emphasize on accepting individuals can become part of a discussion about how individuality is an important aspect of the LGBTQIA experience — again, one which doesn’t need to be explored with explicit language. I hope you like this book as much as I do!

 

Saludos,

Kalyn

May 4th | Week in Review

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¡Hola a todos! I want to thank you all for sharing this wonderful space with me. Unfortunately, although also fortunately, this is my last post, as I will be graduating over the summer. I am grateful to have been able to share all of the resources with you, and hope that you enjoy these last ones! J

–  Check out this book review of Diary of a Reluctant Dreamer: Undocumented Vignettes from a Pre-American Life by Alberto Ledesma as reviewed by Latinxs in Kid Lit. According to the review, the vignettes “brings penetrating light into the liminal spaces occupied not only by Dreamers, but all undocumented immigrants, and makes a convincing case that their stories deserve a chapter in our national narrative.” After you read the review, you might also want to learn more about how Alberto Ledesma produced the Diary, and if you’re not sure about the book yet, check out De Colores’ review, too.

— Here is New Mexico Artist Agnes Chavez on the importance of art and science education. “Creativity and innovation are core skills that youth need to be ready to thrive in the 21st century,” and according to Chavez they can be attained through both science and art.

 – Feliz belated Día de los niños (April 30th)! If you’re not familiar with the day, learn more from acclaimed author Pat Mora, who has been a champion of the event for many years: the History of Día de los niños/Día del libro

— You can view the book review of nipêhon/Wait, by Caitlin Dale Nicholson and Leona Morin-Neilson, shared by American Indians in Children’s Literature. The reviewer expressed that the “inclusion of syllabics in this book is wonderful; it’s great for Native and non-Native kids to see. It’s also an important addition for young (and old!) Cree language learners.”

— In terms of incorporating music into teaching, check out these 10 Jazz Books to connect kids to music by our beloved friend PragmaticMom. I have personally read My name is Celia/ Me llamo Celia by Monica Brown and I loved the book. I hope you do, too!

–  Get to know America Reads Spanish Week’s List latest edition (covering April 29th, 2018). The list includes la vida de Selena, a Hispanic music icon, among others.

–For those interested in transnational Latinx social justice, you might want to view how the biggest general strike in American history revived the US working class on May Day.

–Lastly, with Cinco de Mayo happening this weekend, we recommend you read Rethinking School’s informative piece on Rethinking Cinco de Mayo.

Abrazos,
Alin Badillo


Image: Hand. Reprinted from Flickr user Mattias under CC©.

¡Mira, Look!: Martí’s Song for Freedom / Martí y sus versos por la libertad

¡Buenos días! Today’s book fits perfectly with both National Poetry Month and Earth Day. Martí’s Song for Freedom / Martí y sus versos por la libertad, written by Emma Otheguy, illustrated by Beatriz Vidal and translated by Adriana Domínguez, is a picture book biography  of the Cuban hero José Martí (1853-1985). It was published in 2017 by Lee & Low Press. Each page provides the text in English and Spanish, with Otheguy interspersing Martí’s own words alongside her narration of his life.

This book would be a wonderful contribution to children’s literature at any point, but it stands out in the present era as a timely resource for encouraging young readers to see injustice and seek change in the world around them. For a snapshot into why his life might inspire readers today, long after his death, the publisher’s description offers a useful biographical sketch:

As a young boy, Jose Martí traveled to the countryside of Cuba and fell in love with the natural beauty of the land. During this trip he also witnessed the cruelties of slavery on sugar plantations. From that moment, Martí began to fight for the abolishment of slavery and for Cuban independence from Spain through his writing. By age seventeen, he was declared an enemy of Spain and was forced to leave hisbeloved island. Martí traveled the world and eventually settled in New York City. But the longer he stayed away from his homeland, the sicker and weaker he became. On doctor’s orders he traveled to the Catskill Mountains, where nature inspired him once again to fight for freedom. Here is a beautiful tribute to Jose Martí, written in verse with excerpts from his seminal work, Versos sencillos. He will always be remembered as a courageous fighter for freedom and peace among all men and women.

Martí was a philosopher, poet, traveler, and, yes, “fighter for freedom and peace among all men and women.” His life is complicated and not easily conveyed to even adult readers, yet Otheguy, who is a scholar of Spain and colonial Latin America, has managed to do just that. In School Library Journal’s starred review, they acknowledged that she offers a “sensitive and poignant tribute to one of Latin America’s most important historical figure.”

Writing a children’s book is never easy. Writing a children’s book about a complex historical period and renowned figure is harder yet. Somehow, Otheguy does it. She manages to weave simple descriptions of Martí’s experiences into and alongside references to the broader history, politics, and cultural moments that shaped his philosophy. An epilogue at the end provides even more information about his life. This attention to detail is itself enough for the book to merit a prime bookshelf spot, but Otheguy does more than just situate him in history. Her carefully chosen verses also allow students to see the person behind the figure, and particularly his love of the naturalworld. With Earth Day upon us, it’s timely to read how she explores how the natural world influenced his philosophy.

This attention to the natural world is particularly evident inOtheguy’s descriptions of Martí’s time in the United States. During Martí’s exile to New York, he soon came to realize that the American’s fixation withmoney created a sense of indifference and apathy which he could not tolerate. In order to escape the city and its materiality, Martí would go tothe Catskill Mountains, where he would walk and write.Otheguy describes the Catskill Mountains as Martí’s way of dwelling in Cuba fromafar – the pine trees of rural New York forests paralleling Cuba’s palm trees and beaches. A love of homeland becomes a literal love for the land, leading to the notion that it was his time in the New York countryside which recharged Martí and prompted him to return to Cuba to fight for his people.

Stanzas taken directly from Martís work, Versos sencillos, ring boldly from each page and reinforce the nuanced importance of the landscape. Here, for instance, with few words he somehow manages to speak at once to the natural beauty of the New York and Cuban landscapes and his estranged longing for home:

“Mi verso es de un verde claro

Y de un carmín encendido:

Mi verso es un ciervo herido

Que busca en el monte amparo.

 

My song is of the palest green

And the fieriest crimson:

My song is a wounded deer                                                          

That in the countryside, seeks safety.”

Vidal’s soft and colorful illustrations perfectly accompany the words of both Otheguy and Martí. Her depictions of the New York and Cuban countryside, of battlefields and urban spaces and of pain andcelebration are breathtaking and dynamic. As much as each individual image is striking, it is her choice of juxtaposition that lingers. Images of rolling hills are matched by horses charging into battle.

At the end of the book, the Acknowledgments section allows Otheguy to tell readers how she places herself in relation to Martí and of her family’s experience as Cuban Americans in New York. She writes:

“This book was inspired by my parents, who read me stories from La edad de oro and who embody every day the capacity to hold two homelands, two cultures, and two languages within oneself. When I was a child, they talked endlessly about their lives in Cuba, while staying ever-present in the very different lives my brother and sister and I  shared. I hope this book captures my love for the palm trees of my parents’ homeland and the oak trees of nuestro Nueva York; I hope this book also conveys what it means to me that Martí, too, knew, loved, and was inspired by these two places.” Young readers who come from families and households that share multiple languages, places, and people may well relate to both Martí’s and Otheguy’s lives.

Here are some resources for you to check out while working with this book in the classroom:

  • PBS has a short documentary about Mosé Martí
  • Here is a lesson plan for using two of Martí’s poems and one of his letters
  • Here you can hear Martí’s famous poem, Versos Sencillos, read aloud. Excerpts of this poem are found throughout Martí’s Song for Freedom/Martí y sus versos por la libertad.
  • To help make connections between Martí and the present day, check out this informal piece from the Huffington Post on “What My Millenial Students Can Learn from José Martí
  • If you’d like to pair this title with other books on Cuba or other biographies, you might want to peruse Teaching for Change’s compiled Social Justice Books.

For those interested in the book itself, we suggest checking out:

I hope you enjoy this book as much as we do!

Saludos,

Kalyn


Images modified from Martí’s Song for Freedom / Martí y sus versos por la libertad

April 27th | Week in Review

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¡Hola a todos! I hope everyone enjoys this week’s readings as much as I enjoyed gathering them. 😊

–  In case you wondered how important nature is in Latin America, check out these 6 Indigenous struggles that need to be talked about during earth day.

— When teaching about immigration, you might appreciate Beacon and Broadside’s reasons for Why Myths About Immigrants and Immigration Are Still with Us Today.

 – La Bloga shared great news! Lil’ Libros baby board books now have Latin American culture, historic figures, and more. These board books have figures like Cantiflas, Selena, and even popular short stories like “un elefante.”

— You can learn more about the importance of having stories available in Spanish via this Lee & Low interview with David Bowles and Guadalupe García Mccall as they discuss their experience translating Summer of the Mariposas.

– Remezcla shared 6 books Sandra Cisneros turns to during tough times. I have personally read An Indigenous People’s History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and all I can say is that this book will definitely help you get through tough times!

— Continuing the theme of Earth Day, De Colores reviewed Arriba, Abajo y Alrededor / Up, Down, and Around and Nuestro Huerto: De la semilla a la cosecha en el huerto del colegio /It’s Our Garden: From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garde. Both books are recommended, and both are great for themes about food, agriculture, culture, and nature.

–  Latinxs in Kid Lit recommend the book US, In Progress: Short Stories About Young Latinos by Lulu Delacre– a Pura Belpré Award honoree author. According to the reviewer, the book “in the hands of kids is an exciting prospect. Individually, you could delve into each character’s story, reveling in the rich development of character, place, and voice.”

— Talking about identity and representation can be complex but here is a way to get out of the margins. The post stresses that “from the outside, it probably seems a self-evident choice when an author from a marginalized group chooses to write a protagonist that shares their lived experience. If ‘write what you know’ is sound advice, then choosing to speak from a personal and underrepresented point of view would seem obvious. But for me and many other ‘own voices’ writers, the decision was not obvious at all.”

–This is the reason why world book day is celebrated on April 23rd according to America Reads Spanish

–  From Gathering Books, here is more proof of how reading can impact one’s soul. Follow along on the writer’s exploration through her post on “My Literary Journey Has Taken Me to Uruguay’s Galeano.” She writes that “Reading Galeano was like being given this hearty meal of beef pochero complete with chorizo, after being fed a steady diet of cotton candy or french fries. This, right here, is simply the real deal. Given the current state of the world today, with so many lunatics in positions of power, Galeano’s words filled me, providing me with the energy, clarity, and sustenance required to continue fighting the good fight. Find him. Read him.”

— Finally, Jacqueline Woodson’s upcoming book is a moving letter to kids who feel alone. Woodson confesses that “My mom used to tell us there’d be moments when we walked into a room and no one there was like us. I’ve walked into those rooms many times during my childhood and beyond so I had the sense that this was true of most people and began writing the story.”

Abrazos,
Alin Badillo


Image: Soccer Match. Reprinted from Flickr user Joint Task Force under CC©.

¡Mira, Look!: Sueño azul / Kallfv pewma mew

1Hoy vamos a hablar de Sueño Azul / Kallfv pewma mew del poeta y oralitor chileno Elicura Chihuailaf y de los ilustradores María de los Ángeles Vargas y Alberto Montt, ambos originarios del país andino. Durante esta crítica me referiré a la obra, Kallfv pewma mew, en su denominación mapuche; idioma también conocido como mapudungun. Es de resaltar la descripción del autor como oralitor, una figura acuñada por el mismo que pretende honrar a los antepasados mapuches y supone una mixtura de oralidad y escritura.

Kallfv pewma mew es un pasaje a las tierras de la Araucanía, en Chile central, donde el saber indígena de los mapuches no parece haber sido ultrajado por capas de colonialismo histórico. Supone un despertar poético del autor entre su tejido familiar, con los mayores como pilar vital para adquirir una posición de respeto por la lengua, las tradiciones y la naturaleza. Estos últimos se funden en un caluroso abrazo y dejan destilar los frutos de su unión para dar a conocer un estilo de vida que bebe del color azul, el poder de la tierra y la importancia de la oralidad como hilo conductor de su existencia misma. Dejémonos transportar por algunos de los evocadores pasajes:

2

 

Pukem wamfiñ ñi tranvn ti pu koyam ti llvfkeñ mew wvzam tripalu

/ En invierno sentimos caer los robles partidos por los rayos […]

Che ta rumel mogen Mapu gelay Mapuche fey piley Mapu mu tripachi che piley

/ La Tierra no pertenece a la gente, Mapuche significa Gente de la Tierra […]

 

 

La obra ofrece un lirismo que fluye como las aguas de un río en lengua mapuche y castellana respectivamente (incluyendo la versión en inglés y francés hacia el final de la misma), y se deja confundir con recuerdos que no aparecen constreñidos por reglas gramaticales (el texto no está puntuado); recuerdos que dialogan con unas ilustraciones bidimensionales que proyectan el alma de la vida mapuche. Partiendo de su infancia, el autor va construyendo un arco vital cuajado de sabiduría ancestral y cómo esta forja su ser poético al calor de las hogueras. Una pasión que le hará viajar a otros países y que permite que se erija en un legítimo representante de la población indígena chilena.

3Elicura Chihuailaf es un poeta y oralitior chileno nacido en 1952 en la región de la Araucanía, hacia el sur de Santiago, la capital, en el centro del país. Kallfv pewma mew es su primera obra infantil, aunque tiene una extensa publicación de otros textos como El invierno, su imagen y otros poemas azules (1991), Recado confidencial a los chilenos (1999) o Sueños de luna azul (2008). Por su parte, María de los Ángeles Vargas y Alberto Montt son ilustradores y diseñadores chilenos que colaboran regularmente con varias editoriales y medios nacionales.

Recursos relacionados con la promoción de la poesía, el respeto por el saber tradicional y la naturaleza:

Esta publicación tiene un sentido especial para mí por varias razones: la primera es que uno de mis amigos más importantes, de esos que aunque pase el tiempo y no os veáis todo sigue igual cuando tenéis oportunidad, es chileno. La segunda tiene que ver con el hecho de aunar poesía, saber ancestral y naturaleza. Este triángulo mágico que transporta y evoca de forma tan poderosa.

¡Nos vemos en próximas publicaciones, estad atentos al blog!

Santi