Happy Holidays!

¡Buenos días!

We hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season thus far. At Vamos a Leer we want to wish everyone joyful celebrations before we take a break until January. Here in Albuquerque the farolitos are already shining the path for Las Posadas celebrations. We hope your holidays are festive and full of life!


Until next year,

Kalyn


Photo by Jack Parsons

Our Next Good Read. . .Maximilian & the Mystery of the Guardian Angel: A Bilingual Lucha Libre Thriller

Join us on Monday, January 8th at Tractor Brewing (1800 4th St NW) from Maximilian and the Mystery of the Guardian Angel | Vamos a Leer | Xavier Garza5:00-7:00 pm to discuss our next book.  We are reading Maximilian & the Mystery of the Guardian Angel: A Bilingual Lucha Libre Thriller (Grades 2 – 7) by Xavier Garza.

Here’s a sneak peek into the book: (from Goodreads)

Margarito acts like any other eleven-year-old aficionado of lucha libre. He worships all the players. But in the summer just before sixth grade, he tumbles over the railing at a match in San Antonio and makes a connection to the world of Mexican wrestling that will ultimately connect him—maybe by blood!—to the greatest hero of all time: the Guardian Angel.

We hope to see you there!

We’ll also be raffling off a copy of February’s featured book, The Inexplicable Logic of my Life (Grades 7 and up). Join us that evening to be entered!

 

Author’s Corner: Laura Esquivel

Saludos a todos,

As we wrap up the fall term and the 2017 calendar year, we’re looking forward to a lighthearted and memorable book group meeting focused on Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. We’ll meet at Red Door Brewing in downtown Abq to enjoy the book and share in a potluck meal inspired by the same. For the moment, though, we want to take this time to share a bit more about the author and her work.

A Mexican essayist, novelist, and playwright, Esquivel is, of course, best known for her magical realist-inspired novel, Like Water for Chocolate. It was first published in Spanish in 1989 under the full title Como agua para chocolate: novela de entregas mensuales, con recetas, amores y remedios caseros (Like Water for Chocolate: a novel in monthly installments with recipes, romances, and home remedies) and was followed shortly by the release of the feature film – with the novel adapted for the screen by Esquivel herself and her husband of the time, Alfonso Arau. The novel itself was a success in Mexico and was well-received by English-speaking audiences when translated, but it was truly the success of the film in 1992 that thrust Esquivel into the international spotlight.

Before becoming an award-winning novelist, Esquivel was first and foremost a teacher, beginning in the 1970s. She would go on to become a playwright, writing scripts for children’s television and theater. For her work on the film Chido One, she was nominated for the Ariel Award, Best Screenplay, by the Mexican Academy of Motion Pictures in 1985.

Following Like Water for Chocolate, Esquivel would go on to publish the novel La lay del amor in 1996, a book of essays titled Intimas suculencias in 2000,  the novel Tan veloz como el deseo in 2000, Escribiendo la nueva historia: cómo dejar de ser víctima en 12 sesiones in 2014, and  A Lupita le gustaba planchar in 2015. Most recently, she has returned with a crime thriller, Pierced by the Sun (2016). As NPR’s Carrie Kahn reports in an interview with the author, “Now author Laura Esquivel is tackling crime and corruption in modern day Mexico. Her novel “Pierced by the Sun” – just out in English – has a female protagonist who battles crooked politicians, criminal gangs, as well as her own demons”

But of course it was with Like Water for Chocolate that Esquivel entered women’s hearts and homes across the world. In an essay examining how the novel represents women, particularly Latin American women, scholar María Elena de Valdés begins by pointing out that part of the novels’ success was due to how Esquivel parodied an already popular genre. Forgive me in advance for this a long quote, but I’m personally fascinated by the novel’s points of commonality with the genre: “The genre in question is the Mexican version of women’s fiction published in monthly installments together with recipes, home remedies, dressmaking patterns, short poems, moral exhortations, ideas on home decoration, and the calendar of church observances. In brief, this genre is the nineteenth-century forerunner of what is known throughout Europe and Americas as a women’s magazine.” De Valdés observes that “Como agua para chocolate is a parody of nineteenth-century women’s periodical fiction in the same way that Don Quijote is a parody of the novel of chivalry. Both genres were expressions of popular culture that created a unique space for a segment of the population.”

Whether we accept that Esquivel was parodying this informal genre (I do) or not, readers of the novel quickly learn that her novel elevates the act of cooking and the traditions associated with it. She effectively reclaims the space as one of power and authority – an act which no doubt resonates with many women in many countries. In an interview with the NYTimes in 1993, the author herself acknowledged that “As a very young girl, I understood that the interior activities of the home are as significant as the exterior activities of a society…food can change anything,’ she said.” She went on to explore this significance even further, writing two subsequent novels that build Como agua para chocolate into a trilogy:  El diario de Tita and Mi negro pasado. 

Amid the ongoing legacy and love surrounding Like Water for Chocolate, Esquivel has continued to write and recently, even, undertaken a fourth career, becoming a politician serving in the Chamber of Deputies for the Morena Party in her hometown of Mexico City. We’ll all have to stay tuned to see where she takes life next.

Cheers,
Keira

p.s. special shout out to LAII graduate student, Jacob Sandler, for his help with writing this feature!


Image: Photograph of author reprinted from Goldey-Beacon College.

December 8th | Week in Review

¡Hola a todos! I wanted to let you all know that it has been my pleasure to gather resources for you. This will be my last post of the year, as we are approaching the holidays. I wish you all an unforgettable winter break full of love, harmony, and relaxation.

Latinxs in Kid Lit recommend the book North of Happy, a YA novel by Adi Alsaid, which offers a coming-of-age narrative focused on a young man whose life spans the US and Mexico, and who breaks norms to pursue his life’s passion: cooking. Reviewer Cecilia Cackley, a performing artist and children’s bookseller, states “It was…refreshing to read a book about a Mexican character that isn’t about immigration, drug wars, or poverty. My favorite parts of the book were the descriptions of Carlos cooking and his thought process as he selects ingredients or puts together a dish. ”

– Check out a new website dedicated to the late poet, Andrés Montoya, that was created by his brother, Maceo Montoya. Shared by La Bloga, the site commemorates the poet (1968-1999) and brings his work to new generations of readers. ““The late Andrés Montoya resided in Fresno, California. He had been a field hand, ditch digger, canner, and ice plant worker, and sometimes a teacher of writing.” – from the back cover of the iceworker sings and other poems.”

#DiverseKidLit has posted their December linkup! #DiverseKidLit is an amazing website dedicated to multicultural literature for children. It’s run by our lovely colleague, PragmaticMom. Each month, PragmaticMom proposes a new theme for the blogging community to explore, with all of the resources “designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.”

–Diario de Cultura explains why Los hispanohalantes ascienden ya a 572 millones, 5 millones más que hace un año.

— End-of-the-year booklists are popping up everywhere. Rich in Color is no exception. This is a blog dedicated to reading, reviewing, talking about, and otherwise promoting young adult books (fiction and non-fiction (starring or written by people of color or people from First/Native Nations. To be inspired in your YA reading, see their list, Audrey’s 2017 favorite books.

Goodreads recently shared their growing collection of Latino Book Lists. The lists range from themes like the “Immigrant Experience in Literature” to “Non-American Books that Every American Should.”

– Finally, from PopSugar, here are  50+ Books Every Latina Should Read in Her Lifetime. More than a few Vamos a Leer featured titles and authors appear on it, but there are many more titles to add to our TBR list! Enjoy!

Abrazos,
Alin Badillo


Image: Purple Flower. Reprinted from Flickr Papa Pic under CC©.

 

Winter Celebration Resources

¡Buenos días! As everyone prepares for the holiday season, we thought we’d wrap up our posts for this year by sharing some winter and holiday literature resources.

Two years ago we put together a Reading Roundup of 10 Children’s Books About Latino Winter Celebrations, which you might reference if you’re looking for engaging books for your young ones in the coming weeks. Some of these books have been reviewed in more depth by Alice and Katrina: The Miracle of the First Poinsetta, José Feliciano’s Feliz Navidad, A Piñata in a Pine Tree, ‘Twas Nochebuena, and La Noche Buena: A Christmas Story.

In addition, if you visit our Las Posadas/Winter Celebrations tab, you can find more posts related to Latin American/Latinx holiday celebrations. Also, Colleen wrote a Reading Roundup about Latino/a Children’s & YA Books Honoring Immigrant Experiences in the Winter Season, which I recommend checking out. Although not all of them are holiday related, most are. Finally, Katrina has written several En la Clase posts about the holiday season, including one about literature for teaching about Las Posadas, and another that highlights 3 books for teaching about the holiday season.

We hope you are able to use these resources in the classroom as the winter holidays approach!

Saludos y felices fiestas,

Kalyn

¡Mira, Look!: Topilitzkuintli/El perro topil

¡Buenos días! Today we will continue our Indigenous Peoples book reviews with Topilitzkuintli/El perro topil. The story is written in Spanish by Elisa Ramírez Castañeda, translated to Nahuatl by Miguel Ángel Tepole, and illustrated by Francisco Toledo. Toledo is a significant Zapotec artist and activist from the Tehuantepec peninsula, and Ramírez Castañeda is a poet, sociologist and translator who works to spread the importance of indigenous cultures in both Native and non-Native communities. She is also author of the book titled La educación indígena en México, where she writes extensively about indigenous peoples of Mexico and their inclusion/exclusion in the Mexican nation and education. Toledo and Castañeda are also married with two children.

This Nahuatl story tells the tale of why dogs always smell each others’ rear-ends when they first meet one another. Kids will find this story silly and entertaining. In the story, dogs have been continually mistreated by humans. To resolve this, they decide to bring a message to the region’s leader, Señor Tlalocan, so that he will punish the humans. They choose one dog that would deliver the message, and name this dog the Perro Topil. Since the Perro Topil will be crossing rivers and mountains, the dogs carefully consider a safe place to keep the message during his journey. In the end, they decid to put it in the Perro Topil’s rear-end. Time goes by, and the message never reaches Señor Tlalocan.  We are to surmise that this explains why, even today, when dogs first meet, they smell each others’ rears in search of the Perro Topil and the message he carries.

I am happy to see the inclusion of Nahuatl in the text, especially since the story itself is from the Nahuatl people. If you are interested in the Nahuatl language and culture, you can check out a post I wrote a few weeks ago about The Princess and the Warrior by Duncan Tonatiuh. This post contains various links about the Nahuatl language, along with other indigenous languages in Mexico.

The paintings in this book are exquisite and exemplary of Francisco Toledo’s painting style. Each turn of the page reveals a new painting extending across two pages. These illustrations provide an opportunity to discuss the Mexican muralist movement, which greatly influenced Francisco Toledo’s work. For those unfamiliar with Mexican muralism, the Art History Teaching Resources (AHTR) website provides useful background information and lesson plans. PBS also has a lesson plan, “The Storm That Swept Mexico | Lesson Plan: Revolutionary Art,” that accompanies a video about the Mexican Revolution; however, the materials can stand alone in regards to their discussion of Mexican muralism. Apart from these lesson plans, students might also benefit from having the chance to discuss the similarities/differences between Toledo and other Mexican muralists.

Saludos,

Kalyn

December 1st | Week in Review

2017-11-28-image.png¡Hola a todos! It is super exciting that we are now in December, one of my favorite months. I hope you all enjoy this week’s resources.

– Latinxs in Kid Lit recommend the book Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos by Monica Brown. In addition to the book review, they have shared a coloring activity sheet, book trailer, and discussion guide.

– When talking about media and identity in your class, you might want to share 20 Latina Superheroes and Villains by Hip Latina. Firebird or Bonita Juarez, born in Taos, New Mexico, is a woman who came into contact with radioactive meteorite fragments walking in the deserts around Albuquerque. She has appeared in West Coast Avengers and even in some Avengers storylines.

American Indians in Children’s Literature highly recommend the children’s book, The Water Walker, by Joanne Robertson. This is a story about a grandmother and her actions in saving water for future generations.

– Lastly, from the wonderful writer, Pat Mora, check out the book La Hermosa Señora: Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe/ The Beautiful Lady: Our Lady of Guadalupe. With her birthday coming up (December 12), this is a great book to talk about religion and culture. She even shared activities to accompany it.

Abrazos,
Alin


Image: Familias productoras en el salvador. Reprinted from Flickr user Mesoamérica Sin Hambre FAO-AMEXCID under CC©.