¡Mira, Look!: Laura Resau

laura resauThis week we turn our attention to Laura Resau, author of this month’s featured book. Resau is originally from Baltimore. She received her Bachelor’s degree in anthropology and French from St. Mary’s College in Maryland. Upon graduation, Resau earned her certification in teaching English as a Second Language. She applied for jobs internationally due to a desire to travel, so when she was offered a job in Oaxaca, Mexico, she jumped at this opportunity. During her stay in Oaxaca, Resau became fluent in Spanish and learned some Mixtec (an indigenous language spoken in the region) as well. Resau would return to the United States to earn her Master’s degree in cultural anthropology at the University of Arizona, where she began working on What the Moon Saw (her first book). Continue reading

¡Mira, Look!: Frida Kahlo

**Blogger’s note: I would like to apologize for a small error on last week’s ¡Mira, Look! post. It was, in fact, not the last post of the year. We will be publishing posts through May and that was a publishing error on my behalf!**

frida1After having spent the last month talking about immigration, one of the largest social issues of our time for a multitude of reasons, I thought it would be nice to turn our attention to something a little bit lighter this week. Frida Kahlo was one of the most prominent surrealist artists of the 20th century. Her life, along with her work, has become immortalized because of her popularity and unique story. Not only was she an important artist, but she was also a Mexican artist. Thus, for this week, I would like to draw your attention to a few books about Frida Kahlo, whom I’ve specifically chosen for this because she is a unique personality whom many people frida2reference in popular culture. Continue reading

¡Mira, Look!: Nick Lake

nick lakeWhile it’s incredibly difficult to believe this time is upon us already, we have come to our final ¡Mira, Look! post of the school year.  For this climactic moment, we are proud to feature an equally climactic author: Nick Lake. Not coincidentally, one of his most recent books, In Darkness, is also our featured title for May.

Nick Lake was born in Britain, but he grew up in Luxembourg because his father was on assignment as a civil servant of the English Parliament. There is not a lot of information available about Nick Lake’s upbringing and background, but we do know that he currently lives in England with his wife and daughter and that he presently works as the Editorial Director for fiction for Harper Collins Children’s Books. Continue reading

¡Mira, Look!: Goodbye Havana, Hola New York

Goodbye HavanaWrapping up our theme on immigration, I thought it would be nice to explore immigration through the context of historical fiction. While we showcased Yes! We are Latinos! a few weeks back, it is important to also see immigration through the lens of a child as we saw in Dear Primo. The nice thing about historical fiction with this topic is that it emphasizes the notion that immigration is not a new phenomenon; rather, the United States is a country built on immigration that has been happening for centuries from a variety of locations, for a variety of reasons. Thus, this week, we are turning to Goodbye Havana, Hola New York by Edie Colon.   Continue reading

¡Mira, Look!: Crossing the Wire

Crossing the WireOver the past several weeks, we have tuned into various aspects of immigration. This week, we want to turn our attention to one of the grittier aspects of transition: the journey. For many who cannot migrate to the United States “legally” for one reason or another, this means they must endure a long, arduous, dangerous journey that can include violence, dangerous modes of travel, and surviving the dessert. Many do not survive this journey. However, what is important to note is that men, women, and youth make this journey. Yes, youth. Youth migrants are often ignored in mainstream discussion on immigration, when many young people come to the United States via the same mode of travel as their other family members and face similar hardships. Thus, we turn to Will Hobbs’s Crossing the Wire, a book that focuses on a young Mexican immigrant’s journey to the United States.  Continue reading

¡Mira, Look!: Dear Primo

DearPrimoOver the past several weeks, we have discussed various aspects of immigration. One of the goals of this blogger is to redirect the discourse on immigration within the classroom. The discussion surrounding immigration shouldn’t center on “bad people” who cross the border to “steal.” Rather, it should focus on the myriad of people who come to the US, why they come, and what happens when they get here. Another important thing to keep in mind is that immigration is not only an issue that impacts adults; thus, our attention should also go to seeing how younger children deal with immigration as well as young adults. This week, we turn our attention to a book written for kids ages four to eight that embraces this discussion on immigration by demonstrating how it can provide people with a unique experience yet allow them to maintain their ties to their cultural past as well. We will be discussing Duncan Tonatiuh’s Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin. Continue reading

¡Mira, Look!: Red Glass

Red GlassAs we are aware, immigration is a complex issue. Sometimes, it can mean leaving behind one’s family, and other times, it can mean losing one’s family. As many people clamor to cross the border looking toward a new future in the North, they embark upon dangerous journeys. Not all survive this journey, and this is a reality that families must face on both sides of the border. Thus, we turn to a book that discusses this subject and describes the tale of one child who lost everything while going through this journey, gained a new family, and then had to reconcile with how he would continue in the journey of life. This week, we will be discussing Laura Resau’s Red Glass.

Red Glass follows a young woman, Sophie, who goes to the hospital with her parents one day. There, they meet a little boy, Pedro, who traveled along with his parents and coyote across the dessert and into Arizona. When he is discovered, he is found severely dehydrated, the lone survivor of the trip. Thus, Pedro goes to live with Sophie and her family. Nearly a year later, Pedro’s family in Mexico makes contact with him, which leads to a trip home and a decision for Pedro to make. Continue reading

¡Mira, Look!: Yes! We Are Latinos!

yes-we-are-latinosMarching on with our theme on immigration, there is so much more to it than just the process of coming to the United States. While that is certainly a large accomplishment, another aspect of immigration is readjustment and, to some degree, assimilation. Assimilation is often the most difficult among first generation Americans. However, assimilation doesn’t mean the loss of one’s culture as cultural riches are handed down from generation to generation. What does it mean to be Latino? Thus, this week, we are discussing Yes! We Are Latinos! by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy.  Continue reading

¡Mira, Look!: Benjamin Alire-Sáenz

benjamin alire saenzThis week, we turn our attention to the author of this month’s Book Group, Benjamin Alire-Sáenz. Sáenz was born in 1954 in Old Picacho, Mexico just approximately forty miles short of the U.S.-Mexico border. He was raised in a traditional Mexican-American Catholic family. In fact, upon graduating from Las Cruces High School, Sáenz entered seminary to become a priest. After being ordained and serving three years as a priest, Sáenz decided to leave the priesthood.

Then, Sáenz attended the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) where he studied English and creative writing. Here, he received his Master’s degree. Sáenz began work on his Ph.D. at Stanford, but he returned to El Paso and began teaching prior to earning this degree. At UTEP, he started teaching in the bilignual Masters of Fine Arts program. Currently, Sáenz is a faculty member at UTEP and he continues to write. Continue reading

¡Mira, Look!: Illegal

IllegalWe all know that the subject of immigration is deeper than it would appear on the surface. While many people immigrate for a better job or a better future for their families, there are many problems facing the typical immigrant. We see this on the news as people fight to “secure our borders,” while others fight for immigrant’s rights. But what about those who immigrate and their families? What is it like to be an immigrant? Not only does uncertainty face those who immigrate, but it faces the families of those who come to the North as well. This week’s book, Bettina Restrepo’s Illegal, puts immigration into this realistic context.

Illegal tells the story of Nora, a young girl whose father leaves Mexico in search of work in the North. Her father maintains constant contact with the family, sending letters and money to the family as frequently as possible. While Nora is sad that her father is gone, she remains hopeful that he will return and they will live a better life one day. However, when her father’s letters and money stop coming, Nora and her mother cross the border into Texas to look for him. Now, not only is Nora without her father, but she too is also an immigrant in this strange land forced to readjust. Continue reading