¡Mira Look!: Margarita Engle

Today’s ¡MirMargaritaa Look! posts highlights acclaimed author, poet and journalist, Margarita Engle. Our January book group will be studying her Hurricane Dancers, The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck and I thought it appropriate to give our faithful readers some information on this outstanding author. Continue reading


¡Mira Look!: Looking Back on 2012 and forward to 2013

????????????????????????????????????????My aim for today’s ¡Mira Look! is to reflect on the main themes of 2012 and look towards our 2013 year. Our goal with ¡Mira Look! has been to highlight some amazing award winning books and authors that strive to bridge the gap between the multiple worlds our students live in. Through these posts, we try to give teachers, librarians and parents openings in which to engage our young readers in conversations about race, ethnicity, diversity, cultural knowledge, hardship and experience. Ultimately, we hope that through literature, our students can gain a deeper and more respectful understanding of themselves and the world in which they live.

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¡Mira Look!: Author Alma Flor Ada

One would think that if your curriculum vitae was 35 pages long that would be the most impressive thing about you. Or, perhaps the fact that you have a Ph.D. and were both a Radcliffe and Fulbright scholar as well as a distinguished professor emeritus would garner a low-whistle of “wow”. These things are impressive to say the very least. However, the most impressive thing about today’s ¡Mira Look! author, Alma Flor Ada, is her dedication to bilingual education and her fantastic storytelling abilities.

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¡Mira Look!: Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida

Perico, or parrot, was what my Dad called me sometimes. It was from a Mexican saying about a parrot that complains about how hot it is in the shade, while all along he’s sitting inside an oven. People usually say this when talking about ignorant people who don’t know where they’re at in the world.”

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¡Mira Look!: Grandma’s Records & Grandma’s Gift: The artful storytelling of Eric Velasquez

Normally our ¡Mira Look! posts highlight authors who have either won the Pura Belpré or Américas Awards, or who through their written works help us deconstruct the typical narratives of race, ethnicity and experience. But a medium we have forgotten are picture books, mostly because much of our focus is on young adult literature. But our mission is K-12 education, so with today’s post picture books are left in the shadows no more!

Today’s post highlights two picture books by author/illustrator Eric Velasquez: Grandma’s Records (2001) and Grandma’s Gift (2010). Continue reading

¡Mira Look!: Reaching Out (continuing “Breaking Through”)

Reaching Out completes the three-part autobiography of Francisco Jiménez’s life from childhood through his undergraduate degree. (Read about part-one here and part-two here). In this book, Jiménez discusses the trials of being the first in his family to go to college, decreasing support from his father for this decision and, “carrying memories of years of poverty and prejudice with him, he enters a world different from his own, and one in which he struggles not only with self-doubt about succeeding academically but also with finding work to send enough money home. I relate my experiences as a college student from an immigrant Mexican family of migrant workers.” (from book).

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¡Mira, Look!: Julia Alvarez

My comrade in blog, Katrina, told me that Before We Were Free and Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez have been two of our most popular Educator Guides/Books, she suggested that a look into this wonderful author would be a great ¡Mira, Look! piece … I’m sure she’s right!

Julia Alvarez, the Dominican-American author, has penned over 20 books, won numerous awards (including 2 Pura Belpres for Before We Were Free and Return to Sender and a Hispanic Heritage Literature Award), and is widely considered to be one of the most influential and important Latina writers today.

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¡Mira, Look!: Messengers of Rain: and Other Poems from Latin America

multicultural teaching, young adult literature, award, educationEnglish, History and Sociology teachers know that poetry can be an extremely useful tool to get a classroom discussion started. Today’s Mira Look is about a collection of Latin American poems that will no-doubt help your classroom kids learn, explore and discuss not only the different styles of poetry, but the places and themes the authors are presenting. Continue reading

¡Mira, Look!: Maximilian & the Mystery of the Guardian Angel: A Bilingual Lucha Libre Thriller

Maximilian & the Mystery of the Guardian Angel: A Bilingual Lucha Libre Thriller (English and Spanish) by Xavier Garza is an action packed book about a widely popular Mexican past-time: Lucha Libre matches (similar to wrestling, though with more color and show).

“Maximilian acts like any other eleven-year-old aficionado of lucha libre. He worships all the players. But in the summer just before sixth grade, he tumbles over the railing at a match in San Antonio and makes a connection to the world of Mexican wrestling that will ultimately connect him—maybe by blood!—to the greatest hero of all time: the Guardian Angel” (from book jacket).

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¡Mira, Look!: Nersys Felipe

A family member just told me about Nersys Felipe, a Cuban novelist, poet, and short writer who  last year received the Cuban National Literature Award.  An older woman, Felipe has been writing for decades.  This award apparently comes as long-due recognition of her efforts in the realm of children’s and youth literature.

 In choosing Felipe as the recipient, the jury recognized “ ‘the sustained quality of her work for children and youth, anchored in the deepest roots of Cuban culture, but in a dialogue with the best of the genre.’ The jury was headed by 2010 National Literature Prize winner, Cuban-Uruguayan novelist Daniel Chavarría, and members included critic Zaida Capote Cruz, essayist José Antonio Baujín, and poets Georgina Herrera and Nelson Simón” (Guerillero, 06/12/2011)

In the blog “Repeating Islands,” which covers Caribbean news and culture, Felipe is quoted as saying: ““I am living one of the happiest moments of my life; the award filled me with joy and rendered immense expressions of affection.” She added that, after the initial nervousness, she was “overcome by a great satisfaction because the award establishes recognition of the cubanía (Cubanness) within my texts and of all literature of this genre [literature for children and young adults] on the island. [. . .] At that moment, I thought of Cuentos de Guane, my most polished and appealing volume, and also of [writer] Dora Alonso, a reference for all of us who follow in her footsteps.”

Felipe’s most popular children and youth books include Cuentos de Guane, Romá Elé, and Corazón de libélula.  She has also won the Casa de las Américas Literary Prize.  Sadly, many of her books are out of print at the moment.  Perhaps local or university libraries will have copies?  I’m investigating my resources right now…