Author: Yamile Saied Méndez

Publisher: Algonquin, 2020

Awards: A 2021 Pura Belpré Medal Winner

Camila Hassan loves the game of soccer, and she’s good at it too. But in Rosario, Argentina, her brother Pablo is the soccer star. He plays for the hometown professional team Central, while Camila has to sneakily attend her practices and prepare for the SudAmericano cup, her first shot at going pro. Camila navigates life amidst the Ni Uno Menos movement, a movement to stop the violence against women and girls. Not only is she hiding her soccer  dreams from her family but she has to navigate the city with care and vigilance amidst constant threats to her safety because of her gender.  On top of all that Camila’s first love Diego, a famous professional soccer star, is back in town. With so much hanging in the balance, Camila will have to choose what matter’s most. Furia is an excellent coming of age novel that highlights the challenging intersections of gender, soccer, class, and love.

Age Range: High School

Region: South America/Argentina

Additional Resources:

Author’s Website

The National Book Club Discussion Questions https://promo.booksamillion.com/BookClub/DiscussionQuestions/Furia_Discussion_Questions_Book_Club_Kit.pdf

More Information on Rosario, Argentina

Picture from https://www.workman.com/products/furia/paperback



By: Leopoldo Gout and Eva Aridjis

Co-Illustrator: James Manning

Publisher: HarperOne of HarperCollins Publishers

Ages: All Ages, Recommended 11 and up

Region: New England and Michoacán, Mexico

Language: English, also available in Spanish

Image from HarperCollins Publishers https://www.harpercollins.com/products/monarca-leopoldo-gouteva-aridjis?variant=39502434828322

The journey of Monarca is told as a tale within a tale, beginning where Inés’ journey ends, coming full circle to the small New England town where Inés grew up. Yet, most of the journey Inés finds herself on feels outside of conventional time and space, stretching across a period of roughly two months on a voyage south to the butterfly sanctuary in Michoacán. This quickly becomes a story about found family and self discovery amidst a collective migration Inés has little choice in starting, but finds her own agency within once she embarks on this fated quest southward. Along her voyage she is accompanied and guided by spirits of nature, past ancestors, fellow travel companions Josephine and Valerio, and her abuela. Though not set in a specific time period, this vibrant book is clearly intended to inspire the present, as it tackles urgent environmental themes like deforestation, animal cruelty, and abuse of power in pursuit of profit in a way that is both digestible and familiar to the youth of today. Divided into the four parts of metamorphosis a butterfly experiences, this journey is clearly about Inés’ own personal development. The Inés we find reflecting on her past journey is not the one who first transforms. This story provides a beautiful way to talk about global themes of migration, belonging, identity, and heritage–but within this narrative we are also gifted with an exploration of how change is so often reflected in an embodied process. Readers are left with the implication that embodied changes are equally as important as inner and global changes–a narrative I fear has been neglected in a recent time period that has been full of so many changes for the youth of today. This illustrated account is in many ways a graphic novel, providing an aesthetic journey that lends a whole new level of imagination and creativity to this journey of discovery and metamorphosis.

“It is time to feed. By that I mean it’s time for you to learn as much as possible about the world around you. Instead of speaking, listen. Instead of showing, watch. Be open and do not resist your destiny…” (p. 63)

“…humans need to understand how devastating–or lifesaving–their actions can be when it comes to the rest of us…” (p. 121)

Woven throughout this enchanting novel and within the characters is a deep appreciation for the natural world. Though it comes with a lot of responsibility, Inés is given the opportunity to see the world through an entirely different perspective and interact with her new family who she quickly identifies see an entirely different world. Aside from encouraging the development of empathy and compassion among students, this novel offers a crucial opportunity to rethink humanity’s relationship with the natural world. Invite students to reflect on their relationship with nature and the one that Inés notices from afar in her new form. How is her relationship different from the beginning of its journey to the end? What shifts when she changes perspectives–who and what becomes the enemy? Who is suddenly a friend? How does Inés begin to evaluate people differently?

Illustrations from co-illustrator James Manning https://www.manningstudios.com/portfolio-2/monarca

One scene that invites us to both reflect on shifting perspectives and current events is an instance in which the migrating Monarcas moving south into Mexico encounter a group of people migrating north through the desert. Up until this juncture, every being the Monarcas have encountered has become a threat. Aside from children, this group of fellow migrants are the only other humans who are presented as peaceful and supportive friends throughout the novel. While much of Inés’ metamorphosis and migration is made accessibly abstract through her transformation, this encounter very much encourages us to ground the book in reality. There are several opportunities to extend the conversation around current events, including scenes in which the Monarcas mobilize against illegal deforestation, work to save one another from toxic pesticides, and escape animal trophy hunters. Monarca is a text that is uniquely positioned to encourage us to see the beauty and collective power that can be learned from cultivating relationships with the natural word, both through Inés’ journey and through our own reflection as readers on this aesthetic voyage.

Additional Resources:

Beyond the Mic w/Sean Dillon Interview with the author Leopoldo Gout https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwYALYI-VPE

Recording of Bookshop Santa Cruz Presents: Leopoldo and Eva Ardjis | MONARCA

The Distance Between Us

Written by/escrito por: Reyna Grande

Published by/Publicado por: Washington Square Press

Age/edad: 11-12th grade +

Region/región: Mexico/USA

Themes/Temas: immigration, family, education, marginalization, abuse, poverty, Mexican culture, coming of age / inmigración, familia, educación, marginación, abuso, pobreza, cultura mexicana, mayoría de edad

In her memoir, Reyna Grande takes us on a heartbreaking journey propped up by the hope and dreams of herself and her family. Reyna recounts her painful youth, growing up in Iguala, Mexico without her parents who both left to pursue a better life in El Otro Lado. Reyna and her siblings Mago and Carlos are left in the care of their father’s mother Abuela Evila who despised the three, physically, mentally, and emotionally abusing them under her charge. Reyna holds the photo of her father close to her heart and finds strength and hope in his image.

Years go by with hardly any communication from their parents when they are told they have a new little sister who was born in the United States. This sends the three into a pit of despair as they fear their parents love and chance of returning to them will be diminished by their baby sister Betty. Their mother eventually returns breaking the news that their father had abandoned her for another women so she had taken Betty and headed back to her mother’s house in Mexico. While the three who were left in Mexico fear their mother will love Betty more than them, there is something more heartbreaking at work. Their mother’s love seems to become increasingly more detached from her children and more centered on her romantic desires. Reyna’s siblings struggle to understand why their mother who finally returned continues to abandon them for different men in Mexico, leaving for months at a time at her children and mother’s protests. Reyna’s father returns to Mexico and decides he will bring Reyna, Mago, and Carlos to El Otro Lado with him. Finally Reyna is within reach of all she has hoped and dreamed for. The unconditional love of at least one parent, a chance at a new life in El Otro Lado, and a family unified under one roof. That hope deflates over the years of living with her father, as his alcoholism escalates and causes physical, emotional, and verbal abuse that threaten to ruin all that Reyna has worked towards in El Otro Lado. Despite all of her hardships throughout her life, Reyna achieves what no one else in her family had- she graduates from The University of California Santa Cruz with honors and embarks on a successful life as an educator and author.

The Distance Between Us is a truly impactful story of a Mexican immigrant’s journey that exposes how immigration has lasting effects on entire families. I have read several books about immigration, the journey to the US, and experiences once across the border but Reyna Grande’s memoir takes the experience to an intimate place where we are exposed to the feelings, thoughts, and emotions of a child left behind while her parents travel north. Reyna’s life in Iguala after her parents leave remind us of the complex ways in which immigration affects all those involved and how children left behind view the world and long for the reunification of their family. We are reminded that experiences of immigration and reunification engender sustained changes on family dynamics where the old ways may not ever be again. While Reyna’s story is heartbreaking, it is also a story of hope and an inspiration to everyone who has experienced hardship. Despite the abuse she suffers and the constant ways in which she tries to win the love of her parents, only to be let down, Reyna pursues her dreams and finds success, peace, and fulfillment in her life. She develops an admirable ability to understand the people who hurt her from a holistic perspective that is grounded in empathy. I admire her for this and will definitely read more of her books.

En sus memorias, Reyna Grande nos lleva a un viaje desgarrador sostenido por la esperanza y los sueños de ella y su familia. Reyna relata su dolorosa juventud, creciendo en Iguala, México, sin sus padres, que se marcharon para buscar una vida mejor en el Otro Lado. Reyna y sus hermanos Mago y Carlos quedaron al cuidado de la madre de su padre, Abuela Evila, que despreció a los tres, abusando física, mental y emocionalmente de ellos bajo su cargo. Reyna guarda la foto de su padre cerca de su corazón y encuentra fuerza y esperanza en su imagen. Pasan años sin apenas comunicación con sus padres cuando les dicen que tienen una nueva hermanita nacida en Estados Unidos. Esto hace que los tres entren en un pozo de desesperación, ya que temen que el amor de sus padres y la posibilidad de volver con ellos se vea disminuida por su hermanita Betty. Su madre finalmente regresa dándoles la noticia de que su padre la había abandonado por otra mujer por lo que había tomado a Betty y se dirigió a la casa de su madre en México. Aunque los tres que se quedaron en México temen que su madre ame a Betty más que a ellos, hay algo más desgarrador en juego. El amor de su madre parece alejarse cada vez más de sus hijos y centrarse más en sus deseos románticos. Los hermanos de Reyna luchan por entender por qué su madre, que finalmente regresó, sigue abandonándolos por diferentes hombres en México, marchándose durante meses ante las protestas de sus hijos y de su madre. El padre de Reyna regresa a México y decide que llevará a Reyna, Mago y Carlos a El Otro Lado con él. Por fin Reyna está al alcance de todo lo que ha esperado y soñado. El amor incondicional de al menos uno de sus padres, la oportunidad de una nueva vida en El Otro Lado y una familia unida bajo un mismo techo. Esa esperanza se desinfla a lo largo de los años de convivencia con su padre, ya que el alcoholismo de éste va en aumento y provoca abusos físicos, emocionales y verbales que amenazan con arruinar todo lo que Reyna ha conseguido en El Otro Lado. A pesar de todas las dificultades a lo largo de su vida, Reyna logra lo que nadie más en su familia había logrado: se gradúa en la Universidad de California Santa Cruz con honores y se embarca en una vida exitosa como educadora y autora.

La distancia entre nosotros es una historia verdaderamente impactante del viaje de una inmigrante mexicana que expone cómo la inmigración tiene efectos duraderos en familias enteras. He leído varios libros sobre la inmigración, el viaje a los EE.UU. y las experiencias una vez cruzada la frontera, pero las memorias de Reyna Grande llevan la experiencia a un lugar íntimo en el que se nos exponen los sentimientos, pensamientos y emociones de una niña que se queda atrás mientras sus padres viajan al norte. La vida de Reyna en Iguala después de la partida de sus padres nos recuerda las complejas formas en que la inmigración afecta a todos los implicados y cómo los niños que se quedan atrás ven el mundo y anhelan la reunificación de su familia. Se nos recuerda que las experiencias de inmigración y reunificación engendran cambios sostenidos en la dinámica familiar, donde las viejas costumbres pueden no volver a serlo. Aunque la historia de Reyna es desgarradora, también es una historia de esperanza y una inspiración para todos los que han experimentado dificultades. A pesar de los abusos que sufre y de los constantes intentos de ganarse el amor de sus padres, sólo para ser defraudada, Reyna persigue sus sueños y encuentra el éxito, la paz y la plenitud en su vida. Desarrolla una admirable capacidad para comprender a las personas que la hieren desde una perspectiva holística basada en la empatía. La admiro por esto y definitivamente leeré más libros suyos.

Additional Resources/Recursos adicionales:

Reyna Grande’s website: http://reynagrande.com/

Related books + reviews: Undocumented: A Workers Fight and Beast Rider

Related books + lesson plans/classroom activities: Para Todos/For All

Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide

Written by: Isabel Quintero

Illustrated by: Zeke Peña

Language: English

Age: YA

Region: Mexico

Published by: The J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles

Isbale Quintero and Zeke Pena bring the life of Graciela Iturbide, one of the most celebrated Mexican photographers, to life in this splendid graphic novel for young adults. This was a thoroughly enjoyable read as we are taken along Iturbide’s journey as she discovers herself through the photographs she takes of the world around her.

We peak into the lives of Mexican American cholos and cholas from East Los Angeles who strived to carve out an American life for themselves while holding their Mexican heritage as a badge of honor and resistance. We travel with Iturbide to Juchitán in the state of Oaxaca were “womanhood is not weakness;- it is unapologetic,” and gender is not binary but maintains the fluidity forever present in the region. She worked in India where the thesis of her project was to find connections between India and Mexico. It was there she questioned, “do we force our vision to find likeness, Reader, because we fear difference?” She photographs people but also things.

“Human subjects tell a biased version of who they are. But objects have a different perspective. They ask me to use my imagination, to listen as they tell their stories.”

This biography is original and exciting. The graphic novel presentation of Iturbide’s life pulls the reader into her life, we are with her, we see what she sees, we can relate.

While we get a glimpse into an artist’s life, we also learn about Mexican, Mexican American, Indigenous, Indian, and American culture through her experiences with the people and places of those areas where she pieced herself together with every new connection and photograph she took. Photographic: The life of Graciela Iturbide is an inspirational story for any young adult, or adult for that matter. A wonderful reminder to pursue our dreams and find ourselves in the world around us.

Additional Resources:

Zeke Peña’s Website (illustrator)

Isabel Quintero’s Blog (author)

Graciela Iturbide’s Website

Getty’s Website (Publisher)

Be Bold! Be Brave! ¡Sé audaz! ¡Sé valiente!

Written by/escrito por: Naibe Reynoso

Illustrated by/ilustrado por: Jone Leal

Ages/edades: 5-10

Region/Región: USA

Text and illustration copyright/ Derechos de autor del texto y la ilustración

2019 Con Todo Press

Language/idioma: Bilingual: Spanish and English

Author Naibe Reynoso brings the inspiring biographies of 11 Latinas who contributed to US history to life for readers in both English and Spanish. Each of her short biographies are fun to read as they flow rhythmically bringing Selena, Ellen Ochoa, Maria Hinojosa, and many others to life. The last biography of the book is a space for the reader. Reynoso encourages readers to look in the mirror and imagine all the possibilities. Think about the change you want to see and be bold and brave in your journey to achieve them.

Naibe Reynoso is a journalist with over 20 years of experience in her field. She has always been dedicated to centering the voices and experiences of her community. While raising her own children, she noticed the lack of books that featured Latinxs who have contributed to US history. Be Bold! Be Brave! is her way of changing that so young readers see themselves represented in books and see all the potential there is for everyone to pursue their dreams.

La autora Naibe Reynoso da vida a las inspiradoras biografías de 11 latinas que contribuyeron a la historia de los Estados Unidos para los lectores tanto en inglés como en español. Cada una de sus biografías cortas es divertida de leer, ya que fluyen rítmicamente dando vida a Selena, Ellen Ochoa, María Hinojosa y muchas otras. La última biografía del libro es un espacio para el lector. Reynoso anima a los lectores a mirarse en el espejo e imaginar todas las posibilidades. Piensa en el cambio que quieres ver y sé audaz y valiente en tu viaje para lograrlos.

Naibe Reynoso es una periodista con más de 20 años de experiencia en su campo. Ella siempre se ha dedicado a centrar las voces y experiencias de su comunidad. Mientras criaba a sus propios hijos, notó la falta de libros que presentaran a latinos que han contribuido a la historia de los Estados Unidos. ¡Sé audaz! ¡Sé valiente! es su forma de cambiar que los lectores jóvenes se vean representados en los libros y vean todo el potencial que hay para que todos persigan sus sueños.

Additional Resources/recursos adicionales:

Con Todo Press Website

Video Read Aloud

Naibe Reynoso’s Website

LAII Latina Women in Stem Lesson Plans

Discussion Question/pregunta de discusión:

What strategies have you used to make sure students feel included and represented in course material and content?

¿Qué estrategias ha utilizado para asegurarse de que los estudiantes se sientan incluidos y representados en el material y el contenido del curso?

Just A Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book

By: Yuyi Morales

Published by: Chronicle Books LLC

Ages: 3-5

Region: Mexico

Language: English with Spanish words

Image from Chronicle Books LLC https://www.chroniclebooks.com/products/just-a-minute

Señor Calavera pays Grandma Beetle a visit asking her to leave with him but in true trickster style, Grandma Beetle finds a way to divert his attention and keep him around getting her tasks down along the way. She distracts him by counting out the preparations she has to do around the house before she can leave with him. Readers are encouraged to count along as she numbers her agenda items in both Spanish and English. Grandma Beetle counts her way all the way to her birthday dinner celebration with all of her grandchildren and Señor Calavera. She is not ready to leave this world for the afterlife with Señor Calavera, instead she opts for another day with her family. This is a wonderful celebration of Mexican culture and a great way to encourage bilingualism and/or Spanish language learning.


An ALA Notable Book

Pura Belpré Award Winner

Parents’ Choice Approved Award Winner

Notable Book for a Global Society

A Latino Book Award Winner

Additional Resources:

Author’s Website

Read aloud with Yuyi Morales:

Miguel and the Grand Harmony

Written by: Matt de la Peña

Illustrated by: Ana Ramírez

Disney Press 2017

Ages: 3-7

Region: Mexico

Music is the protagonist in Newburry Medal winner, Matt de la Peña’s, Miguel and the Grand Harmony. The Music is a part of life, and it travels through town on the beat, rhythm, and cacophonies of its makers. The music is stumped however when it reaches Miguel, a boy who loves music but is not allowed to play. The Music cooks up a scheme to bring a guitar into Miguel’s life and inspires him to play, to play whats in his heart. De la Peña highlights the many ways music shows up in our lives, and its connection to happiness.

Discussion Questions:

How did the colors in the book communicate emotion?

Why would playing music upset Mama Coco?

Region: Mexico/North America

Additional Resources:

Coco by Disney Pixar

Matt de la Peña’s Website

More books by Matt de la Peña

The Princess and the Warrior 

(Winner of the Pura Belpré Award)

Written and Illustrated by: Duncan Tonatiuh

Abrams Book for Young Readers 2016

Ages: 3-7

Region: Mexico, North America

The Princess and the Warrior details the love story of, a thoughtful and caring princess, Izta, and a brave military man Popoca.

Although Itza was coveted by suitable men, in her fathers eyes, they were not what Izta wanted. She was not impressed with their lavish gifts. Izta instead fell in love with a brave and caring warrior Popoca, for he offered her something much more valuable than any quetzal feathers or turquoise necklace could, a promise to be by her side, and love her forever.

The love match is not enough for Itza’s father, at least not at first. In order for Popoca to prove himself worthy he must defeat the emperor’s enemy, Jaguar claw, a tlatoani, of a nearby kingdom. Although Popoca bravely takes on the mission, he is unaware of Jaguar Claws cunning. Will Popoca be able to fulfill his promise to Itza or will Jaguar Claw prevent Popoca from uniting with his true love, Itza?

Discussion Questions:

Why do you think Popoca needed to prove himself worthy to the Emperor?

Do Itza and Popoca end up together? Why or why? Explain your answer.

Vocabtlatoani [nahua] – ruler, king

Additional Resources:

More books by Duncan Tonatiuh

The Author’s Website

The Legend of Popocatepetl & Iztaccíhuatl: A Love Story

Luciano el Gusano/Luciano the Worm

Texto e ilustraciones por/written and illustrated by: Santiago González 

Edades/ages: 4-8

Idioma/language: Español

Luciano el Gusano es una historia sobre un gusano al que no le gustaba quién era. Estaba cansado de ser un gusano, así que decidió inventar una nueva realidad para sí mismo.

Comenzó a imaginarse a sí mismo como animales diferentes, pero no pudo encontrar consuelo en ninguna de las nuevas formas que adoptó. Su último intento es un alienígena que está alejado de los problemas que enfrentan los otros animales que intentó ser, pero está muy lejos del planeta tierra y de la vida que contiene. Después de su aventura de intentar ser otra cosa, Luciano decide que se siente más cómodo siendo él mismo, Luciana el gusano.

La historia de Luciano es familiar para todos. Cuando crecemos, todos pasamos por fases de querer ser alguien o algo más, imaginando que la hierba es mucho más verde en el otro lado. Luciano nos recuerda que realmente no hay lugar como el hogar, abrazándose a sí mismo por quién y qué es. Todos podríamos aprender una o dos cosas de la historia de Luciano.

This story is about a worm who did not like who he was. He was tired of being a worm so decided to invent a new reality for himself. He began to imagine himself as different animals but could not find solace in any of the new forms he adopted. His last try is an alien who is removed from the problems faced by the other animals he tried being,

but he is so far away from planet earth and the life it holds. After his adventure of trying to be something else, Luciano decides that he is most comfortable being himself, Luciana el gusano.

Luciano’s story is a familiar one to everyone. When we grow up, we all go through phases of wanting to be someone or something else, imagining the grass to be much greener on the other side. Luciano reminds us that there truly is no place like home, embracing himself for who and what he is. We could all learn a thing or two from Luciano’s story.

The Sea-Ringed World


Illustrated by: AMANDA MIJANGOS

Translated by: DAVID BOWLES

Ages: All ages

Language: available in English and Spanish

Region: The Americas

Many countries, states, cities, and people just wrapped up their celebrations of Columbus Day, commemorating the “discovery” of the Americas. As many have consistently protested the celebration of Columbus or changed their views on the holiday and what it means, a phrase has stuck with me: “Columbus didn’t discover America, he invaded it!.”

The Sea-Ringed World counters the narrative that the Americas were “discovered” by Columbus and instead offers a rich set of stories highlighting the long history of the people of the American continents who have inhabited their lands for fifteen thousand years. Further, the anthology counters the myth of mestizaje that places Indigenous people in the past, broken from the present by connecting the stories told today with their ancestral roots with an emphasis on continuity.

“Passed down through generations, these narratives created an unbroken strand of indigenous wisdom, lore that guided life and love, warfare and worship.”

The book contains tales from Hopi, Nahua, Maya, Andean, Muisca, Mapuche, Blackfoot, Ona, Taino, Guarani, Sugpiag, Sioux, Cabecar and Bribri, Huichol, Ojibwe, Wayuu and Inuit traditions with beautifully illustrated images. The back matter of the book includes a transcription of Indigenous terms, a pronunciation guide, quick guide to cultures, a map, and glossary.

Muchos países, estados, ciudades y personas acaban de concluir sus celebraciones del Día de Colón. Como muchos han protestado constantemente por la celebración de Colón o han cambiado sus puntos de vista sobre la festividad y lo que significa, una frase se ha quedado conmigo: “¡Colón no descubrió América, la invadió!”.

The Sea-Ringed World contrarresta la narrativa de que las Américas fueron “descubiertas” por Colón y, en cambio, ofrece un rico conjunto de historias que destacan la larga historia de las personas de los continentes americanos que las han habitado durante quince mil años. Además, la antología contrarresta el mito del mestizaje que sitúa a los pueblos indígenas en el pasado, roto con el presente al conectar las historias contadas hoy con sus raíces ancestrales con énfasis en la continuidad.

“Transmitidas de generación en generación, estas narrativas crearon una corriente ininterrumpida de sabiduría indígena, tradición que guió la vida y el amor, la guerra y la adoración”.

El libro contiene cuentos de hopi, nahua, maya, andino, muisca, mapuche, pie negro, ona, taíno, guaraní, sugpiag, sioux, cabecar y bribri, huichol, ojibwe, wayuu y inuit con imágenes bellamente ilustradas. La parte posterior del libro incluye una transcripción de términos indígenas, una guía de pronunciación, una guía rápida de culturas, un mapa y un glosario.

Additional Resources:

Author’s website: https://www.mariagarciaesperon.com/

Illustrator’s website: https://amandamijangos.com/bio

Nahuatl Dictionary: https://nahuatl.uoregon.edu/