Mira, Look!: Por ahí viene el huracán

Queridos lectores:

Para cerrar el mes de abril, hemos elegido un libro escrito por la escritora puertorriqueña Laura Rexach Olivencia e ilustrado por la puertorriqueña
Mya Pagán . Esta es la historia de una niña, Isabel, y su gato, Mau, antes durante y después del paso de un huracán por su isla.

El libro empieza con la fecha, “18 de septiembre de 2017,” en la cuál el huracán María llegó a Puerto Rico. En esta fecha, un narrador observador (en tercera persona) nos cuenta como en el primer grado todos los compañeros de Isa estaban emocionados porque las clases se habían cancelado. Es un punto de vista inocente de la llegada de un desastre natural, el cuál ella todavía no comprende bien. Esta idea es enfatizada por medio de onomatopeyas y del diálogo entre ella y su gato.

“Isa no logra escuchar bien la conversación. Algo de vientos bien fuertes y ráfagas e inundaciones. –¿Qué será una ráfaga?– le pregunta Ia al sabio Mau”

Este es un punto que cabe recalcar sobre este libro es que hay diversas palabras subrayadas, tales como plan de emergencias, las cuales tienen una definición al final del mismo.

A medida que se desarrolla la historia, somos testigos de como la gravedad de la situación comienza a afectar a su protagonista. Isabel siente mucho miedo a medida que la fuerza de los vientos aumenta y puede ver que sus padres muestran temor en sus rostros. Una vez que el huracán pasa, somos testigos de cómo el paso del mismo afecta a los vecinos de la isla y a los amigos de Isabel. Los padres de su amigo Nico han decidido mudarse ya que el huracán ha destruido su casa y “Lo han perdido todo.”

Isa siente una tristeza muy profunda, no sólo porque no sabe cuándo volverá Nico, si no porque su vida diaria ha sido interrumpida. No sabe cuándo podrá volver al colegio.

El libro termina con Isa teniendo un momento de paz al salir al monte y sentir que la brisa sopla entre los árboles. “A Isa le encanta volver a sentir la dulce brisa entre sus rizos revueltos. Los coquíes también han perdido su timidez y vuelven a unirse en concierto. COQUÍ COQUÍ COQUÍ.”

El hecho de que la historia no haya terminado con Isa volviendo al colegio o con su amigo Nico regresando a la isla nos muestra una realidad dura, que refleja la de varios niños en Puerto Rico. Los cuales, casi dos años después siguen sintiendo el paso del huracán.

Ciertamente recomendamos la lectura de este libro, con el acompañamiento de un/a maestro/a, para guiar y discutir la historia con los lectores. Este libro no cuenta con aluciones directas al huracán María, más allá de la fecha al inicio. Por lo tanto, información más allá del texto ayudará a los lectores a reforzar su comprensión sobre este tema.

-Para aprender más sobre la autora, visita su página de web

-Para leer otra reseña, visita el blog de Latinx in Kid Lit.

-Por otros cuentos sobre Puerto Rico, visita Social Justice Books: Puerto Rico, una bibliografía de títulos recomendados.

Carolina


Cita: Las imágenes pertenecen al libro Por ahí viene el huracán, por la ilustradora Mya Pagán

¡Mira, Look!: Planting Stories: The Life of the Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré

Queridos lectores,

For this week, we chose a very special book that came out this year, “Planting Stories: The Life of the Historian and Librarian Pura Belpré.” This story is the result of a beautiful collaboration between American author Anika Aldamuy Denise and Colombian illustrator Paola Escobar, and it is also available in Spanish. For some of you the name Pura Belpré sounds familiar, whether it is because
you read her stories that talk about Puerto Rico’s folklore and oral tradition, or because of the prestigious award named in her honor. Organized since 1996 by the American Library Association, the prestigious Pura Belpré award is given annually to Latinx authors and illustrator.

Resultado de imagen para pura belpre award


Pura Belpré was the first Puerto Rican librarian at the New York public library. This book tells us her inspirational story, and the way in which she planted in New York the seeds of all the stories she heard on the island where she grew up. These stories were told to her “under the shade of a Tamarind tree, in Puerto Rico.” The seeds she plants in the library are an extension of this tree, transplanted in New York City and for all the boys and girls who wanted to hear these stories. Belpré wrote the first book on Puerto Rico’s folktales for the city’s public library. She saw the importance of having access to books in our maternal language and to having representation of our own culture and imagery.

The detailed and colorful illustrations show us this rich world in which
Belpré lived. The 1920s in New York City is shown in detail, building our understanding of this place she went to visit temporarily and where she decided to stay permanently given the opportunities and the promise of the American dream.

Belpré was not only an author but also a storyteller. She would tell and perform Puerto Rico’s stories to children at the library and travel to different places to tell them. Children and families came to the library to hear her bilingual folktales represented with puppets on a stage. This tradition had an impact other storytellers who then continued to create a rich imaginary world for kids at the NY library.

We recommend this wonderful book not only because of her inspirational story, but also because of how important it is to know who she was, where she came from, and the everlasting impact she had in her community.

“The seeds she has planted, the roots that grew shoots into the open air of possibility, have become a lush landscape into which she steps, as though she has never left.”

  • For more information on her prestigious award and to the list of authors and illustrators who have won it, visit the Pura Belpré Award website.
  • To dive into a bit of her legacy among the world of children’s literature, visit the Latinx in Kid Lit blog, which ran a series of commemorative posts in 2016 when the award celebrated its 20th year.
  • Finally, to bring Belpré a bit more to life, check out this trailer for a documentary created by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies.

Nos vemos pronto,

Carolina


Citation: The above image was done by Paola Escobar, and is from the book Planting Stories: The Life of the Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré.

¡Mira, Look!: El Flamboyán amarillo/The yellow flame tree

Queridos lectores,

Para celebrar el mes de la poesía, hemos escogido el libro El Flamboyán amarillo escrito por la poeta puertorriqueña Georgina Lázaro e ilustrado por la galardonada autora e ilustradora Lulu Delacre. Este libro también cuenta con una versión en inglés llamada The yellow flame tree, ambas fueron publicadas por primera vez en 1996 y reeditadas en el 2016.

Este hermoso poema nos cuenta la historia de una madre y su hijo quienes, maravillados ante la belleza de un árbol conocido como Flamboyán amarillo, deciden compartir un momento y meriendan bajo su sombra. Tanto el lenguaje poético como las ilustraciones hechas en pastel seco pintan para el lector una imagen tierna y nostálgica a la vez que nos muestran la niñez del protagonista.

 Esta historia no nos muestra solamente la belleza de un árbol único, si no el amor maternal y la importancia que nuestra “primera maestra” tiene en nuestras vidas. Puesto que el niño, no solamente encantado con el color del árbol, si no con la admiración que su madre muestra ante la naturaleza, decide recoger una semilla y plantarla en una maceta en su casa.

De cierta manera, el árbol era un personaje más en la casa de los personajes y bajo el cuidado del niño y las instrucciones de la madre, la planta crece hasta convertirse en un árbol. Con paciencia y mucho cuidado el árbol crece durante años a la par del niño. De esta manera se muestra un profundo amor hacia la naturaleza por parte de la autora que va de la mano con la idea de la importancia que hay en inculcar a los niños el respeto y la valía que hay en ella.

Este es uno de los puntos que la autora recalca en una nota al final del libro, una de las semillas que ella ha plantado en este libro, es la esperanza de que los lectores descubramos “la poesía que hay en la naturaleza” y que se despierte en nosotros “el deseo de cuidarla.”

Un día se cumple el sueño de los protagonistas y el árbol florece. Al final, para sorpresa de todos, el flamboyán en su jardín no es color amarillo si no rojo. De acuerdo a la autora, esto se debe a el material genético del árbol. En Puerto Rico hay varios Flamboyanes amarillos de color rojo, algo que la ilustradora puso cuidado en no develar en sus ilustraciones. Delacre quería mostrarnos el paisaje de la isla, pero dejar para el final del libro este detalle para que sintamos la sorpresa que sintió el niño. Una sorpresa que nos muestra que aunque nuestros planes no siempre funcionen como los ideamos, no los hace menos bellos ni menos valederos.

Este poema aparentemente sencillo, contiene varios regalos para los lectores que se van develando a lo largo del libro. El amor maternal, la historia de un árbol común en ciertas áreas de Latinoamérica, y la importancia de compartir proyectos y momentos con los niños e inculcarles respeto y cariño hacia la naturaleza. De igual forma, la historia nos incentiva a buscar más información sobre el árbol y sobre los paisajes de Puerto Rico.

-Para más información sobre la autora, visite su página web

-Para más información sobre la ilustradora, visite su página oficial

Nos vemos pronto,

Carolina

¡Mira, Look!: Pasando páginas / Turning Pages: My Life Story

Queridos lectores,

Continuing with our celebration of Women’s History Month, the next book we have chosen is Turning Pages: My Life Story by Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. This autobiographical children’s book is actually written by Sotomayor and is illustrated by the award-winning Puerto Rican author and illustrator, Lulu Delacre. It is also available as a Spanish edition, Pasando páginas: La historia de mi vida.

The book opens with a description of Sotomayor’s bilingual and bi-worldly upbringing. Since childhood, she had to balance both English and Spanish, both New York where she was born, and Puerto Rico where her parents came from. Sotomayor’s story reflects in this way the story of many other girls who grew up in the Bronx, or in other parts of the world, whose parents are migrants, and grow up hearing of places that maybe they themselves have never been to. But still, they share a profound love for this plac; it constitutes a part of their own story and imaginary, and they have inherited a type of longing for it.

Sotomayor’s memories of family gatherings and her grandmother reciting nostalgic poems about her home in a faraway island, marked the beginning of her love for words. Through hardships and different life experiences, books were her constant friend, marking a path of discovery of our world, and of fictional ones.

This book shows us a complicated and beautifully interwoven narrative of struggle, sorrow, a child’s encounter with hardship, the powerful impact that family has in our lives, and the importance of books and education. Lulu Delacre’s illustrations entwines images of book pages with that of life experiences, and at one a point in the story the steps that Sotomayor takes towards a court house and her future as justice, are book pages.

 “every book I ever read took me the next step I needed to go in school and in life”

The love she has for them is all around her. Sotomayor mentions two particularly important books. In school she learned the importance of laws for society after reading Lord of the Flies, and about compassion and when she read the Bible. For her, “books were lenses, bringing into focus truths about the world around me.” An idea that goes hand in hand with the illustrations. Sometimes they show a landscape or a building and as a lens or a zoom, the image of Sotomayor’s story, which gives us the feeling of her life being one marked by a multitude of experiences.

 Turning Pages shows us the many pieces of the puzzle that make up Sotomayor’s story, marked by a feeling of wanderlust, resilience, and love of family. Before the story begins, and after it ends, there are several photos that show us her life. At the beginning there are pictures of her as a child and at the end pictures of her professional life and, in both, she is sharing moments with friends and family.

For more information about the book, watch this PBS interview with Sotomayor and this book trailer video.

Nos vemos pronto,

Carolina



Citation: All the above images were done by Lulu Delacre, and are from the book Turning Pages: My Life Story by Sonia Sotomayor.

¡Mira, Look!: Dreamers/Soñadores

Queridos lectores,



In February we celebrate different kinds of love, and we can think of no better way to do it than by reading Dreamers by Mexican author, Yuyi Morales. This beautiful children’s book, which is available in Spanish as well as Soñadores, tells Morales’ own history of immigrating from Xalapa, Mexico, to the United States.

The book centers around a young mother and her infant son who struggle to understand the new place in which they find themselves, and the language – which they do not speak. From the first page, love of self, of family, and of language compel the characters forward. A poetic voice and striking imagery guide the reader through new beginnings and discovery.

The illustrations are much like the story, captivating and bittersweet. Through the contrast of colorful drawings depicting culture and identity, over a grey and brown background, we can experience the feeling of traveling to a new, unfamiliar, and at times unwelcoming world, while carrying our own.

One of Morales several gifts for her readers is that she shows us both the light and darkness embedded in immigration stories. She does not shy away from hardship and struggle, which does come with parting ways with our homes or with our country. However, Morales also draws on her own story’s resiliency and agency.

One of the illustrations show a young mother in a colorful dress and her son entering an unfamiliar and opaque city, while the clouds above them reveal hidden messages: “Say something,” “What?” “Speak English.” Messages that the mother stares at in sadness. Under the same sky, a banner with the letters “Give thanks” stand in front of them, making the reader feel a tension between what is publicized and portrayed in society vs what immigrants experience in their everyday lives.

Nevertheless, light emerges at the end of this metaphorical tunnel when both characters make a life changing discovery: the public library. A place where books become their guiding friends and a source of wonder. Color starts returning to the pages until it becomes prominent. Images, drawings, animals, and books share the page happily in front of mother and son enjoying the magic of a written world. The background is still brown and grey, but color becomes a protagonist. Closing the story with a message of agency and hope of having found a home and a voice in two languages.

“We are stories. We are two languages. We are lucha. We are resilience. We are hope.”

Morales concludes the book with an author’s note to provide young readers with the parallels to her own history. In sharing so openly, she calls upon her readers to share their own stories, urging them to recognize the value in their own voices:

 “Now I have told you my story. What’s yours?”

We hope that this book might encourage young readers to do just that: to relish their own stories and to speak their own truths. It is with our warmest recommendation that we encourage you to make space for this book front and center on your shelves.

For those who may want to know more about Morales and this work:

 Nos vemos pronto,

Carolina


Citation: All the above images have been included and modified from the book Dreamers by Yuyi Morales.

Introduction to New Writer: Carolina Bucheli

Queridos lectores,
I am very excited to tell you that I will be reviewing children’s books for ¡Vamos a Leer! My name is Carolina Bucheli and I am currently in my second semester of my MA in Latin American Studies. I am a Teaching Assistant for the Spanish and Portuguese department and a Graduate Assistant for the Latin American and Iberian Institute, where I will be assisting with this blog. Last semester I was the communications coordinator for the Student Organization for Latin American Studies, where among other responsibilities I oversaw the redesign of their website.

I am originally from Quito, Ecuador, and I came to the US in 2015 for my undergraduate program. I graduated in 2018 with a BA in English Studies and Spanish, and a minor in Communication and Journalism from the University of New Mexico (UNM). During this time I took several literature, creative writing, film, and multimedia classes that enriched my academic and creative work.

Books and writing have always played an important role in my life. In college I was able to explore the creative side of my work even further and I was able to work on a project called Voids of Ink, which combined my poetry and my multimedia skills. I presented my videos and my written poetry and photography in events promoted by the Spanish and Portuguese department, which were attended by UNM students and faculty. I have also published a poem and a couple of photographs, the latest one being an image of a laser from a lab in the Physics and Astronomy department which was selected as image of the week by the international magazine Optics and Photonics News (OPN).

I hope you enjoy my blog entries and I look forward to working in this wonderful literary world of ¡Vamos a Leer!

Nos vemos pronto,

Carolina

Book Review: Sophie Washington | Mission: Costa Rica

Happy New Year! It’s been ages since I’ve had the opportunity to stop in here on Vamos a Leer! I’ve really missed you all.  Being back in the classroom full time and continuing to help facilitate all of our local k-12 outreach programming for the LAII has kept me busier than I expected!

As you saw in Kiera’s post yesterday, this Friday (tomorrow!!) is Multicultural Children’s Book Day! What a wonderful initiative.  If you missed our earlier post, be sure to check it out.  There are so many wonderful resources and opportunities being created around this event.  Today’s post is our first review as part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day.   I’m very excited to introduce you to Tonya Duncan EllisSophie Washington Mission: Costa Rica (Ages 7-12).  Ellis very kindly sent me a copy of the book to review for this special event.   

Before I get into a more detailed discussion of Sophie Washington Mission: Costa Rica, I want to write more broadly about why books like this one are so important.  Last spring, I came across Denene Millner’s NYT Opinion Piece, “Black Kids Don’t Want to Read About Harriet Tubman All the Time.” I’ve found myself continually referring back to it ever since.  So often, the majority of books with black protagonists are limited to slavery, the civil rights movement, or famous biographies about an “overcomer.” In other words, they focus on themes of oppression and resistance.  These are obviously important stories that must be told, but they can’t be the only stories featuring people of color that our students are exposed to.  This is a disservice to everyone.  

As Millner writes, “Meanwhile, stories about the everyday beauty of being a little human being of color are scarce. Regardless of what the publishing industry seems to think, our babies don’t spend their days thinking about Harriet Tubman, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and black bodies swinging; they’re excited about what the tooth fairy will leave under their pillows, contemplating their first ride on the school bus, looking for dragons in their closets.

They want to read books that engage with their everyday experiences, featuring characters who look like them. Just like any other child. White children, too, deserve — and need — to see black characters that revel in the same human experiences that they do.”

Ellis’ Sophie Washington series does just that.

sophie_washington_book_6_ebookSophie Washington Mission: Costa Rica is the sixth book in a seven book series.  Here, readers will follow Sophie through her adventures in Costa Rica.  The publisher’s summary offers a quick overview: “Sixth grader Sophie Washington, her good friends, Chloe and Valentina, and her parents and brother, Cole, are in for a week of adventure when her father signs them up for a spring break mission trip to Costa Rica. Her dreams of lazing on the beach under palm trees are squashed quicker than an underfoot banana once they arrive in the rain forest and are put to work, hauling buckets of water, painting and cooking. Near the hut they sleep in, the girls fight off wayward iguanas and howler monkeys, and nightly visits from a surprise “guest” make it hard for them to get much rest after their work is done. Then Sophie and friends take a wrong turn in the jungle and things get even more wild…”

 

It is a fun, light-hearted read, that still alludes to more serious social issues such as immigration, family separation, and natural disasters, yet it remains appropriate for early chapter book readers.

Sophie and her family and friends are tourists in Costa Rica.  One of the things that I really appreciate about the story is the way it models a more responsible way to experience a new country and how to be a respectful tourist.  The family is respectful to the artisans at the market, the children are open minded to new experiences, and everyone enjoys trying new foods.  Younger readers are exposed to the flora and fauna of Costa Rica in a way that is woven throughout the story, without being overly obvious or superficial.

It is a short novel, but it still avoids overly simplifying or universalizing Costa Rican life.  The father’s volunteer work through the dentistry office speaks to the poverty that some people in Costa Rica experience. Yet, when the girls get the chance to know another student their age, the story highlights an educational system that successfully encourages bilingualism and a family’s commitment to college. I also appreciate the way the importance of volunteer work and contributing to the community is encouraged.  While there is some grumbling amongst Sophie, her brother, and her friends (would it be entirely believable if there weren’t?), in the end, they’re all appreciative of the experience.

I’d recommend it to readers who enjoy series such as Lola Levine, Jasmine Toguchi, Jada Jones, or Dyamonde Daniel. It’s certainly a great addition to any classroom or school library! It could be a perfect independent reading selection to accompany a unit on the rain forest.  

If you or any of your students have read it, we’d love to hear your thoughts below!

For more information on Multicultural Children’s Book Day, keep reading! Below we’ve shared information on sponsors, free resources, and the annual Twitter party (with tons of giveaways!) on Friday!!

 

new logo

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board!

Honorary: Children’s Book CouncilThe Junior Library GuildTheConsciousKid.org.

Super Platinum: Make A Way Media

GOLD: Bharat BabiesCandlewick PressChickasaw Press, Juan Guerra and The Little Doctor / El doctorcitoKidLitTV,  Lerner Publishing GroupPlum Street Press,

SILVER: Capstone PublishingCarole P. RomanAuthor Charlotte RiggleHuda EssaThe Pack-n-Go Girls,

BRONZE: Charlesbridge PublishingJudy Dodge CummingsAuthor Gwen JacksonKitaab WorldLanguage Lizard – Bilingual & Multicultural Resources in 50+ LanguagesLee & Low BooksMiranda Paul and Baptiste Paul, RedfinAuthor Gayle H. Swift,  T.A. Debonis-Monkey King’s DaughterTimTimTom BooksLin ThomasSleeping Bear Press/Dow PhumirukVivian Kirkfield,

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Author Sponsors on board!

Honorary: Julie FlettMehrdokht Amini,

Author Janet BallettaAuthor Kathleen BurkinshawAuthor Josh FunkChitra SoundarOne Globe Kids – Friendship StoriesSociosights Press and Almost a MinyanKaren LeggettAuthor Eugenia ChuCultureGroove BooksPhelicia Lang and Me On The PageL.L. WaltersAuthor Sarah StevensonAuthor Kimberly Gordon BiddleHayley BarrettSonia PanigrahAuthor Carolyn Wilhelm, Alva Sachs and Dancing DreidelsAuthor Susan BernardoMilind Makwana and A Day in the Life of a Hindu KidTara WilliamsVeronica AppletonAuthor Crystal BoweDr. Claudia MayAuthor/Illustrator Aram KimAuthor Sandra L. RichardsErin DealeyAuthor Sanya Whittaker GraggAuthor Elsa TakaokaEvelyn Sanchez-ToledoAnita BadhwarAuthor Sylvia LiuFeyi Fay AdventuresAuthor Ann MorrisAuthor Jacqueline JulesCeCe & Roxy BooksSandra Neil Wallace and Rich WallaceLEUYEN PHAMPadma VenkatramanPatricia Newman and Lightswitch LearningShoumi SenValerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Traci SorellShereen RahmingBlythe StanfelChristina MatulaJulie RubiniPaula ChaseErin TwamleyAfsaneh MoradianLori DeMonia, Claudia Schwam, Terri Birnbaum/ RealGirls RevolutionSoulful SydneyQueen Girls Publications, LLC

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty ArabAgatha Rodi BooksAll Done MonkeyBarefoot MommyBiracial Bookworms, Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms ShareColours of UsDiscovering the World Through My Son’s EyesDescendant of Poseidon ReadsEducators Spin on it Growing Book by BookHere Wee Read, Joy Sun Bear/ Shearin LeeJump Into a BookImagination Soup,Jenny Ward’s ClassKid World CitizenKristi’s Book NookThe LogonautsMama SmilesMiss Panda ChineseMulticultural Kid BlogsRaising Race Conscious ChildrenShoumi SenSpanish Playground

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media:

MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual @McChildsBookDay Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00 pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party ( a prize every 5 minutes!). GO HERE for more details.

FREE RESOURCES from MCBD:

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/

Hashtag:

Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.