Maximilian & the Mystery of the Guardian Angel: A Bilingual Lucha Libre Thriller (English and Spanish) by Xavier Garza is an action packed book about a widely popular Mexican past-time: Lucha Libre matches (similar to wrestling, though with more color and show).
“Maximilian 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” (from book jacket).
The Pura Belpre Award, “established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.” Garza’s book does so by celebrating an important (and fun!) facet of Mexican and Mexican/American culture: Lucha Libre. Additionally, through the twists and turns of the book, Garza brings us deeply into the life of a Mexican-American kid who is learning to be proud of and to celebrate his heritage while growing up in Texas.
In addition to being a 2012 Pura Belpre Award Honoree, I really appreciate the way this book tackles bilingual text in an easy to understand, age appropriate way: English on one page, the corresponding Spanish text on the facing page indicated by an asterisk. This helps readers who are already learning Spanish to increase their vocabulary and understanding of sentence structure. For those not yet learning Spanish, perhaps it will either inspire them to do so or at the very least will introduce them to the look of a new language.
Maximilian & the Mystery of the Guardian Angel (billed for ages 8 and up) is a wonderful way to ride the super-hero wave and introduce boys and girls to the thrill of not only the wrestling ring, but also the thrill of learning about another culture, language and past-time. The author of numerous books and stories about Mexican-American culture, Xavier Garza, bobs, weaves and punches his way through an informative and exciting book that kids of all ages will enjoy and learn from.
–Your Mira Look Luchadora,