February 3rd | Week in Review

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¡Hola a todos! I really hope you find the resources I shared helpful. I know it was enjoyable collecting them.

Latinos in Kid Lit shared a book review of When the Moon Was Ours by Anna Marie McLemore. We haven’t read this one yet at Vamos a Leer, but it looks really interesting: “Teaching this novel opens up the opportunity to research different legends, traditions, and cultural practices in relation to gender plurality and sexuality.”

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National Picture Book Month

¡Hola artistas!

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.

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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:

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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,

Hania

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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.

 

 

 

 

¡Mira Look!: Fiesta Femenina, Celebrating Women in Mexican Folktale

fiesta femeninaSaludos todos! Welcome to this month’s first blog post! Throughout the month of March we will be celebrating Women’s History Month by focusing our attention on wonderful women in history, literature and our every-day lives. More specifically, this month we will feature books about female icons in Latin America, the representation of women in indigenous folklore, and the every-day experiences of female protagonists in works of children’s literature. These books will celebrate the life and role of women in societies across the Americas, and the enduring inspiration of women’s history. Furthermore, with this month’s theme, we aim to diversify our understanding of Women’s History Month by focusing on timeless female icons and heroic activists, but also on the every-day women who have sustained life, love and culture over the years. Women worthy of recognition are all around us and this month we celebrate their infinite contributions.

fiesta femenina 2We are starting the month off with Fiesta Femenina, Celebrating Women in Mexican Folktale, written by Mary-Joan Gerson and illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez. In this collection, Gerson has compiled a series of Mexican folktales, drawing from Maya, Aztec, Mixtec and Yaqui traditions. The tales have been selected for their strong female protagonists, in an effort to highlight the role of women in Mexican folklore. Gerson explains her intentions in the introduction of the book: Continue reading

WWW: Back in Activism!

¡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!

Vamos a Leer | WWW: Back in Activism!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

¡Mira, Look!: The Miracle of the First Poinsettia

Children's Book Review: The Miracle of the First Poinsettia by Joanne Oppenheim | Vamos a Leer Saludos, everyone! This week marks the beginning of our December themes. We are starting a bit early, since the staff here at Vamos a Leer will be leaving for winter break half-way through December (more details to follow). We want to make sure that we have enough time to put out at least a few winter-themed book reviews before we leave for the holidays. Our December themes will focus on the winter season and winter celebrations in Latin America.

This week I will start by reviewing The Miracle of the First Poinsettia, written by Joanne Oppenheim and illustrated by Fabian Negrin. This holiday tale is best for ages 5-9. It is written in English with Spanish words interspersed throughout, and tells the story of a young, Mexican girl who learns to give gifts from the heart. Oppenheim’s story is a retelling of a traditional Mexican myth about the creation of the first Poinsettia flowers in Mexico. These flowers are sometimes called “flores de la Noche Buena,” or “flowers of Christmas Eve.” According to Oppenheim’s Author’s Note: “They decorate homes and churches all over the world at Christmas time. In Mexico they are so plentiful they still go like weeds. They brighten gardens and remind us of hope, the joy and the miracle of Christmas!” With glowing illustrations, this tale of love and kindness will surely warm the hearts of readers as the winter chill sets in. Continue reading

¡Mira, Look!: ¡Yum, MmMm, Qué Rico!

Children's Book Review: Yum! ¡Mmm! ¡Qué Rico! Brotes de las Américas by Pat Mora | Vamos a Leer¡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

WWW: The First Female Hip Hop Artist from Oaxaca, Mare Advertencia Lirika

mare5bContinuing 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).

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