What makes picture books unique? They have both words and pictures! To celebrate November’s National Picture Book Month I wanted to take a moment to recognize one of my favorite artists, Yuyi Morales, whose work we have had the privilege of showcasing here at Vamos a Leer.
As Neoshia wrote in 2013, Morales is a Mexican author and illustrator who was born in Xalapa, Mexico. She immigrated to the United States as an adult. Although she has written most of her work while in residence in California, she maintains her Mexican roots. In fact, much of her work has been influenced by her childhood in Mexico in what is known as the “City of Flowers” and her Mexican heritage. In her YouTube video, Why I Love Picture Books, Morales herself recounts her first encounter with picture books as “love at first sight.”
Morales’ multimedia techniques, including the puppet making she began experimenting with in 1995 when she moved to the United States, set her apart from many illustrators. To see some of her creations, check out her art-infused website that echoes the liveliness and vivid colors of her books, learn about your favorite characters within them, and even how they were made! Some of my favorite parts include:
You can learn more about Morales and view more of her artwork at PaperTigers (which celebrates books and artists from around the world), and at Let’s Talk Picture Books’ Illustrator Spotlight.
We’ve also talked about Yuyi Morales at Vamos a Leer – be sure to take a re-look at some past posts:
Wishes for a creative noviembre,
Image: “Breakfast.” Reprinted from Yuyi Morales’ website, Frida’s Photo Album.
Image: “Death waiting and waiting for grandma beetle.” Reprinted from Yuyi Morales’ website, Death’s Photo Album.
¡Feliz viernes a todos!
Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable holiday break. Thank you for joining me again. This semester we are kicking off with a focus on activism. You may notice that many of our upcoming posts connect and highlight important activists in Latin America, the organizations they belong to, or the programs they founded. In honor of the focus on activism, I am highlighting some of Ana Teresa Fernández’s recent work on “erasing” the U.S.-Mexico border—using art!
Ana Teresa Fernández is a Mexican-American artist. She and a group of thirty volunteers teamed up to paint the border fence in Nogales, Sonora a light blue color in order to blend it with the sky. In her video about the project, Fernández talked about the fence as a “symbol of hate and pain.” She thought to change that by making it invisible (at least a piece of it). Her work constitutes activism “because it re-contextualizes a possibility. It makes you not see the border — just for a split second — and [makes you see] how two countries can exist, or coexist, peacefully,” said Fernández in an interview with Raquel Reichard from Latina. To her, the problem of the border fence is that it divides two groups of people who could otherwise live in harmony. The idea, while earning support from many people, sparked hate in some who have taken to writing hate mail and nasty correspondence to the artist. Continue reading
¡Saludos, todos! Our themes for November will be food, harvest, and, of course, giving thanks! We have a lot of great books lined up, all of which speak to the different ways of celebrating these themes with family and friends. I am extra excited about this week’s book as it provides a wealth of resources for both educators and every-day readers (please take this as a warning that this post is longer than usual, but well worth it).
This week I will be reviewing “Yum! MmMm! Que Rico! America’s Sproutings / Brotes de la Américas“, written by Pat Mora and illustrated by Rafael López. The book is available in both English and Spanish editions, although I will be reviewing the latter. In this wonderful collection of poetry, Pat Mora takes us on a gastronomic journey of the Americas through a series of fun haikus. Each poem focuses on a crop native to these continents, culminating in a full harvest of celebration and praise. The descriptions of food and cuisine alongside the bright, multicolored illustrations at once awaken the senses while guiding readers through the history of agriculture in the Americas. Mora introduces her book by acknowledging the influence of her anthropologist husband who teaches about the origins of agriculture, an inspiration that certainly resonates throughout her collection. Readers will undoubtedly revel in this delicious feast of knowledge, art and poetry. Continue reading
¡Feliz viernes a todos!
Thanks for joining me again this week! In an effort to show how immigration has truly impacted the United States, I am featuring a resource from the Smithsonian Education website. Since this month is Hispanic Heritage Month, the Smithsonian has put together a Hispanic Heritage Cultural Tour that can be completed online without even leaving the classroom. On this virtual tour, users can find descriptions of the twelve objects showcased, and links to related objects, along with activities that explain their cultural significance, and quizzes to check comprehension. Users will also notice that there is a list of resources that can be used in conjunction with this tour. Students can even use the Interactive Lab Notebook to take notes and can refer to them at any time.
The objects, some of which include a short-handled hoe, a uniform from Roberto Clemente’s time playing for the Pirates, and a carnival mask, to name just a few, are all accompanied by descriptions of what they represent for the Latino community. Many of the objects also illustrate ways in which the Latino community has influenced or impacted the United States. For example, the Devoción de Nuevo Mexico art piece shows the influence Latin American art has had, while the carnival mask illustrates the maintenance of Latino traditions even in the United States. Each object showcased on the tour can be a discussion point for the importance of immigration! Continue reading
Continuing along with our theme of the merger between women’s rights and poetry in Latin America, we have an amazing video resource to share today. Unlike past examples, however, today’s post will focus on a present day, female, indigenous hip hop artist from southern Mexico and an amazing video that comes with English subtitles so the entire class can appreciate the poetic lyricism of her call for human rights, women’s rights, indigenous rights, and a greater social consciousness. Her name is Mare Advertencia Lirika, and today we will be watching the video for her song entitled “And What Are Your Waiting For?” (Y Tu Que Esperas?). In this song, Mare combines the metrics of rap lyrics with elements of social resistance that have been present in her community for quite some time. At 1:45 of the video, Mare says: “We have been denied our own history/ Our words have been taken by other mouths” (1:45).
Hey there readers! One of the great things about Vamos is that we get to showcase books and authors that may not otherwise get the attention that they deserve. I had this in mind while reviewing a unique and delightful children’s book, El día de Ana/Ana’s Day the debut book of author Eileen Wasow.
Here is a description from Amazon:
Ana’s Day is about a four year old girl who accompanies her mother on a series of errands in a small town in Mexico. Ana’s world comes to life through the colorful clay sculptures made by artisans living in Ocumicho in the state of Michoacán, México.
This lovely bilingual picture book is illustrated with clay figures. In it, we follow the daily activities of young Ana, who lives in Mexico. Ana runs errands with her mother. Together, they take her brother to school, watch children play jump rope and hopscotch, and listen as the principal encourages the students to study well and respect their teachers. Ana can’t wait to go to school herself, but she’s not quite old enough, so for now she accompanies her mother.
They visit the mill of Mr. Gonzalez, where Ana and her mother bring a bucket of corn kernels to grind. We get to learn more about this process, such as how the ground corn is made into dough, and how loud the machine can get. The story ends with Ana’s excitement that “Today we will eat hot tortillas!”
I am incredibly excited to share this week’s resource from the Wide World of the Web, because this resource not only contains the translated work of three phenomenal female modernist poets from South America, but it also helps tell the background story of how these three women came to be bound together in the June 1925 Issue of Poetry Magazine. This historic issue, published in New York during a time when modernists such as Ezra Pound and T.S. Elliot were working out ways to form a new poetic tradition for the 20th century, this June 1925 issue featured an astonishing thirty-one South and Central American poets. Among them were poets Alfonsina Storni, Juana de Ibarbourou, and Gabriela Mistral (featured in Lorraine’s Mira Look post earlier this week). In this amazing resource you will find the poets featured in 1925 organized according to country. You can find Storni’s poem “Running Water” under Argentina, Mistral’s “Ecstasy” under Chile, and Ibarbourou’s “Bond” under Uruguay. All three of these pieces are excellent examples not only of 20th century modernist poetry, but of the perspective of Western educated Latin American women of that time.
In Ibarbourou’s “Bond”, the poet replaces common articles of feminine adornment to symbolize the suffering endured by societal pressures of beauty. Ibarbourou (spelled Ibarbouron in the 1925 edition), who was a lifelong advocate and writer on women’s rights in Uruguay and abroad, replaced diadems with a crown of thorns and earnings with “two burning coals vermilion.” Continue reading
Take an audio-visual tour of music of the African diaspora in the Latin Caribbean on BBC’s Afrocubism. This site offers sixteen incredible tracks from the album of the same title, Afrocubism, a project-album that involves a collaboration between Cuban and Malian musicians, representing the centuries-old connection between Western African and Latin Caribbean culture. Once the Atlantic slave trade began, cultural traditions, languages, social structures and cosmological conceptions from the regions of western Africa were supplanted onto the islands of the Caribbean Sea, which up to that point had been inhabited by a plethora of Amerindian peoples, including the Taino and the Carib.
African traditions and languages, however, did not arrive alone; the entrance of European culture was equal in magnitude to that of West Africans, however the European influence took on a distinct aspect being that the colonial powers were systematically and institutionally advancing their languages, religions and cultural traditions, while those of the Africans were left alone, at best, and actively squashed by colonial authorizes at worst. Out of this violent confluence of cultures and historical narratives, however, emerged new forms of identity, new forms of art and music that reflected this distinctive mix for the generations of Afrolatino Caribbean communities that followed. On the island of Cuba, this has been exceptionally evident, as Havana and the Cuban hinterlands have been the source of so many world-famous movements in music and dance throughout the 20th century. For a more regionally nuanced view, see this absolutely incredible resource on NPR’s Africa Boogaloo. Continue reading
This week we have an amazing film resource from Venezuela, 2013’s internationally-acclaimed Bad Hair (“Pelo Malo”). Writer/Director Mariana Rondón brings us this incredibly poignant story about a young boy named Junior who is obsessed with straightening his thick, curly hair, an obsession that drives his mother into a panic over her son’s masculinity.
Earlier this week, ¡Mira, Look! featured Laura Lacámara’s phenomenal book, Dalia’s Wondrous Hair (El cabello maravilloso de Dalia), a book that shares so many amazing similarities with today’s film, Bad Hair. Firstly, and most obvious, they both deal with a child’s mix of struggle and enjoyment in learning to deal with their hair. Both of the writers are women who come from Latin American countries with Caribbean coastline and strong Afrolatino cultures. And, in the end, they both deal with love – love of community, love of family and love of self. That being said, let’s dive into some of the most salient points of Bad Hair, a film that will have you laughing and crying, and will surely leave you wanting to know more about life in Caracas, Venezuelan history, but mostly, it will leave you with a particular song stuck in your head.
Continuing with this month’s theme of human rights and indigenous language, I’d like to turn to an article that came out last month in Aljazeera’s America section, under the topic of Indigenous Peoples. This opinion article entitled “Capitalism, colonialism and nationalism are language killers” highlights the growth of the world’s largest corporate cooperative: Mondragon. Mondragon is a federative organization where all of its member enterprises are equally responsible in the ownership and management of the organization. The cooperative is made up of hundreds of enterprises that undertake alternative forms of capitalism, with more respect for human rights. Mondragon today encompasses 74,000 workers, and over $16 Billion in annual revenue.
But why is this featured for today’s article? And why would it be important for a class lesson on Latin American indigenous language? Mondragon began in the 1950s as movement to revive an endangered indigenous language and culture: Basque. Today the Basque region (in Spanish called Pais Vasco) is a semi-autonomous state, or an “autonomous community” in northern Spain, comprised of flourishing city centers such as Bilbao, as well as famously gorgeous country sides and a border with France in the east. The story of Mondragon, named after the Basque town of Mondragón, is important for us not only because it highlights the Iberian peninsula as a place where indigenous language exists in Latin America, but also reveals a narrative in which movements to protect endangered languages are not futile or simply out of fashion or for hobbyists, but rather they are movements that are well-integrated into socioeconomic movements to protect and promote fair trade practices, human rights, and a basic respect for pluralism within nationalistic environments. Ultimately, it can be debated whether or not one should classify the Euskara language as ‘indigenous’, but either way the debate itself highlights the problematic ways in which labels and conceptions of nationalism convolute our ability to see past ethnicity and socioeconomic class.