March 30th| Week in Review

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¡Hola a todos! This week we have a bunch of wonderful Q&A’s with authors and recommended books to read, enjoy!

– We recently came across Catalina and the King’s Wall by Patty Costello and published by Eifrig Publishing- a children’s book that might prompt children to think critically, albeit perhaps implicitly and without knowing the broader political context, about what it means when a country seeks to build an impenetrable wall to keep out another country. “When Catalina overhears the king planning to build a wall, she fears her family won’t ever be able to visit. Catalina tricks the king into building walls that droop, drip, swirl, and swoosh away. But now the king demands an impenetrable wall. Luckily, Catalina has the perfect ingredients to bake up a family reunion! Through beautiful illustrations and enjoyable prose, kids learn how to stand by their convictions of inclusivity and kindness even when powerful people tell them not to.”

 – De Colores recomends My Year in Middle by Lila Quintero Weaver. The book is recomended for 4-7th grade and is about the story of Luisa Olivera’s starting of middle school during the Vietnam war. The book is “a brilliant, fast-moving story that will resonate with middle-grade readers and could not have been published at a better time.”

–Check out this Q&A session with Latinx in Kid Lit and illustrator Jacuqueline Alcántara about her debut picture book, The Field.

– While discussing indigenous history, you might want to check out how Goni and El Zorro fall and $10 Million is awarded to Indigenous Bolivian survivors in landmark human rights case shared by Latin America News Dispatch. The case was “charged that the Bolivian military massacred more than 60 citizens in September and October of 2003 in the city of El Alto, which neighbors La Paz, in what is often referred to as the October Massacre, or Black or Red October.”

–Our friend, Pragmatic Mom, shared 10 diverse picture books on fine artists, one of which is our favorite Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos. If you want to know more, check out Latinx in Kid Lit’s  review of it here.

– Gathering Books shared their first part (out of two) of Biographies of Fantastically Great Women. Because every day is women’s day, they shared this 32-page book about over 13 international women who made a difference in the world.

–When discussing about gender and sexuality in Latin America you might appreciate why GLAAD Is Calling For LGBTQ Representation In Latin Media With #InclusiveScreens by Hip Latina.  GLADD expresses that “it’s an issue with its #InclusiveScreens / #PantallaInclusivas campaign that seeks to increase Afro-Latinx, Indigenous and all LGBTQ characters of color in Latino media

–In honor of the 100th anniversary of Hernández’s birth, La bloga recommended Danza! Amalia Hernández and Mexico’s Folkloric Ballet by Duncan Tonatiuh. Tonatiuh’s books have received many awards and accolades from Pural Belpré and “with Tonatiuh’s distinctive Mixtec-inspired artwork and colorful drawings that seem to leap off the page, Danza! will enthrall and inspire young readers with the fascinating story of this important dancer and choreographer.” If you are interested but would like more insight, you might want to check Latinxs in Kid Lit and Vamos a Leer book reviews.

– If you were still wondering why diversity in science fiction and fantasy is so critical than you might appreciate the Q&A session with Sauantani Dasgupta shared by CBC Diversity. The author truly believes that “sci-fi and fantasy narratives help us imagine the futures we want, or don’t want. Diverse science fiction and fantasy – narratives in which indigenous characters and characters of color, LGBTQI+ characters, and characters with disabilities and other marginalized identities are central to the story and not just sidekicks – help write diversity into everybody’s future imaginings.”

–Here is an interview with Lee Francis IV on Native Publishing, Bookstores & Indigenous Comic Con. Mr. Lee Francis IV is the owner of Red Planet Comics and Books here in Albuquerque and founder of Native Realities. To Lee Francis IV, the company started “in 2015 and have published 10 titles to date. When we started, the idea was to fill the gap in Indigenous literature.”

Abrazos,
Alin Badillo


Image: Costa Rica. Reprinted from Flickr user Pere Aleu Casanovas under CC©.

¡Mira, Look!: Danza! Amalia Hernández and El Ballet Folklórico de México

¡Buenos días! In honor of Women’s History Month, throughout all of March we will be writing posts featuring strong female characters and authors! Today I will review Duncan Tonatiuh’s book, Danza! Amalia Hernández and El Ballet Folklórico de México. This book tells the true story of Amalia Hernández (1917-2002), founder of the world-renowned dance company, Ballet Folklórico de México.

In Hernández’s era, it was assumed that most women would become schoolteachers, if they chose a profession at all. Hernández, however, chose to follow her passion and instead became one of the world’s most recognized dancers and choreographers. Sh­­e was also a researcher, manager, and dance teacher. Born in Mexico, Hernández’s was versed from a young age in formal ballet and Spanish flamenco. Unsatisfied with these early teachings, she then went on to learn about Mexico’s many traditional and indigenous dances. Afterward, she melded this breadth of experience into a new form of dance known as ballet folklórico, fusing ballet and modern dance techniques with the movements and costumes of Mexico’s traditional dances. Finding her initial performances to be well received, she went on to found her company, the Ballet Folklórico de México, in 1952.

Photograph by JT

While it would be easy to focus solely on Hernández and her iconic imagery, Tonatiuh does more. He offers an homage to the broader collective knowledge and history of dance in Mexico, and pays close attention to the indigenous history underlying Hernandez’s work.

“The danzas y bailes [Amalia] saw in the villages were for ceremonial purposes, like celebrating a patron saint or hoping for a good harvest. Other times, the dances happened so people could have fun and meet new friends. However, the dance pieces Ami was creating were meant to be performances, for audiences to watch in a theater. Ami used her skills as a choreographer and her knowledge of both ballet and modern dance to make the pieces innovative and beautiful.”

In the Author’s Note, Tonatiuh places Hernández’s rise to fame within the context of Mexico’s Indigenismo period, when the Mexican government encouraged recognition of indigenous peoples and Mexico’s indigenous past.Tonatiuh also brings up the question of appropriation and misrepresentation of folkloric dances, an issue which Hernández was forced to face with her rise to fame.

In addition to emphasizing the historical complexities of the Ballet Folklorico, Tonatiuh also draws attention to its worldwide influence by noting that Mexican dances are performed today in the United States and elsewhere. Young readers are thus encouraged to recognize the fluidity of culture, tradition, and peoples across geographic borders.

With his signature style of illustrations and meticulous research, Tonatiuh has brought to life this captivating herstory of a woman of color whose life’s work has become iconic around the world. It is a fitting tribute to a woman whose legacy is tremendous, and can be seen in practice every week and weekend at the famous Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, where her company, the Ballet Folklórico de México, continues to perform.

En fin, we highly recommend putting this book into the hands of young readers who will be inspired by Hernández’s perseverance and creativity!

 

To learn more about this art form as a whole, consider visiting:

For those who might want to use the book in the classroom, here are lesson plans to accompany Danza!:

On a similar note, given that Hernández was a contemporary of the Mexican muralist movement, it might be interesting to discuss her life in relation to the work of the painters of that time, from Diego Rivera to Frida Kahlo and others. Here are a few resources to help in that comparison:

Lastly, if you find Tonatiuh’s work as captivating as we do, you might enjoy our review of his book, The Princess and the Warrior, and our educator guides to Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote and Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation. Fellow Vamos blogger, Hania, also posted an interview with Duncan Tonatiuh to discuss his work and its importance in the classroom.

Saludos,

Kalyn


Images Modified From: Danza!