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!: Alma y cómo obtuvo su nombre.

Queridos lectores,

Para celebrar el mes de la historia de la mujer en Marzo, escogimos un libro que resalta la importancia de las historias y vivencias de las mujeres en su familia y sus comunidades y y la determinación con la cual labran su propio destino.

Alma y cómo obtuvo su nombre fue escrito por la autora e ilustradora peruana Juana Martinez-Neal. Este excepcional libro fue merecedor de la Medalla Caldecott, el cual es uno de los premios estadounidenses más prestigiosos para libros infantiles ilustrados.

Image result for alma y como obtuvo su nombre

Esta maravillosa historia tiene como protagonista a una pequeña niña de 6 nombres: Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela. Tener más de un nombre no es inusual en la cultura Latinoamericana. Sin embargo, al inicio, Alma considera que el suyo es demasiado largo.

Al escuchar el recelo de su hija por la extensión de su nombre, su padre decide contarle la historia detrás de cada uno de ellos. Además añade que al final de su relato, Alma puede elejir si ella comparte o no una conexión con sus nombres. Cabe recalcar, que esta es una de las razones por las cuales este libro es tan valioso, la importancia que se le otorga al poder de decisión de los niños y a la valoración sus sueños.

Como mencioné previamente, esta historia también resalta las vivencias de las mujeres en sus comunidades y el impacto que este tiene sobre sus familias. Cinco de los nombres de Alma fueron escogidos en honor a sus parientes, de los cuales cuatro pertenencen a mujeres. El nombre Sofia y Candela fueron elegidos en honor a sus abuelas, Esperanza en honor a su bisabuela, José a su abuelo, y Pura por su tía abuela. Sin embargo, sus padres no escogieron estos nombres simplemente porque sonaban bonito o porque compartían un vínculo de familia con ellos. Si no que cada una de estas personas tenía una característica única que las destacaba y las hacía valiosas. Características tales como amor por la lectura y el arte, anhelo de aventura, conexión con nuestros antepasados y la lucha y defensa de causas justas.

Related image

Todas ellas eran parte de personas fascinantes con las cuales Alma se da cuenta de que comparte gustos y esperanzas. De esta manera, Martinez-Neal no sólo hace énfasis en la importancia de la conexión con nuestra familia, si no también de mostrar a los niños los distintos caminos que pueden tomar y las distintas fortalezas y cualidades que los definen. Y que además para un niño es de suma importancia sentirse respaldado por sus padres. Una idea que es resaltada por las hermosas ilustraciones que acompañan la historia. Junto a su padre, Alma descubre todas las historias que forman parte de su identidad. Las imágenes usualmente comienzan con su padre contándole una historia, seguida de Alma compartiendo un instante con sus antepasados y de ella dándose cuenta de sus propias características.

Lo cual me lleva a la parte más especial de esta historia, la razón detrás de su primer nombre. Alma es la primera y única persona en su familia en llevarlo. La familia de Alma juega un papel importante en su vida, y de una manera, siempre la acompañan. No obstante, es ella quién debe construir su historia y encontrar su propio camino. Esta hermosa historia termina para los lectores con el sentimiento de ilusión de que Alma siga descubriendo quién es. Alma no es solamente las personas que vinieron detrás de ella si no también el camino que se revela prometedoramente delante suyo.

-Para más información sobre esta y otras obras, y sobre la autora, visita la página oficial de Juana Martinez-Neal

-Para escuchar a la autora hablar de Alma y cómo obtuvo su nombre, mira esta entrevista por Candlewick press

Alma y cómo obtuvo su nombre está disponible en español y en inglés

Nos vemos pronto,

Carolina


Cita: Todas las imágenes usadas en este post pertenencen al libro Alma y cómo obtuvo su nombre por Juana Martinez-Neal.

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

¡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!

 

¡Mira, Look!: Ada’s Violin

¡Buenos días!

Today’s book fits in perfectly with our theme of love for community. Ada’s Violin, written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport, tells the true story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay. The story is told through the eyes of Ada Ríos, a young girl living in the town of Cateura, Paraguay. In 2017, this book won the Américas Award for its engaging representation of Latin America and its usefulness for K-12 classrooms.

Cateura is the home of the largest landfill in Paraguay; it is the place where the trash of the country’s capital, Asunción, isdumped. Most of the inhabitants of Cateura make a living bygathering recyclables and treasures from the landfill. The story tells about how Ada’s abuela registers Ada and her younger sister for music classes with señor Favio Chávez. Favio came to Cateura as an environmental engineer to teach safety measures to those working in the landfill. During his time in Cateura, he took an interest in the children of the workers and began a music class. When the class did not have enough instruments for everyone who signed up, Favio creatively decided to enlist a local carpenter, Nicolas Gómez, for help. Together, they made instruments from objects they found in the landfill. Thus, the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay was born.

This book demonstrates how a community is able to make the best of a difficult situation, and even thrive. It teaches the importance of dreaming big and believing in oneself. Furthermore, it shows the importance of support and coming together. Lastly, throughout it all, it contradicts stereotypes of impoverished communities as lacking agency.

The author’s note tells of the amazing successes that the Recycled Orchestra has had, in addition to the way that its community has remained at the center of that success. The money that the orchestra makes has gone back into the community to better the lives of the musicians’ families. And this grassroots-driven success continues to grow, with the orchestra starting out as a class of 10 and now consisting of some 200 students.

Wern Comport’s illustrations accompany the descriptions of daily life in Cateura beautifully. The colors and texture reflect the complex, textured, day-to-day of the characters. Furthermore, Wern Comport’s use of torn pieces of paper simulates the recycled nature of the orchestra itself.

This book could be accompanied by a number of different lessons in the classroom. It depicts the concept of recycling in a unique way, showing kids that what we throw in the trash has to go somewhere and that it always affects somebody. Our choices and actions matter! For slightly older students, that conversation can segue into deeper discussions about environmental racism – leading to larger-scale implications of how societies and countries choose where to leave their refuse, why, and what happens to it after it’s “abandoned.” On this topic, educators might appreciate watching Vic Munoz’s documentary, Wasteland, which documents a community’s efforts in Rio de Janeiro to recapture the garbage there, much as the people do in Cateura.

The book can also be accompanied by the documentary about The Recycled Orchestra, titled Landfill Harmonic.

At the end of the book, Hood lists a few websites, including that of The Recycled Orchestra Exhibit at the Musical Instrument Museum, in addition to the website of the actual Orchestra: Orquesta de Reciclados de Cateura.

The book also lists three videos to check out:

Saludos,

Kalyn


Images Modified from: Ada’s Violin: Pages 1, 18, 22, 31

Reading Recomendaciones: February 15, 2018

Hello everyone!! I hope your year is off to a wonderful start! I’ve missed you all at Vamos a Leer and I’m so excited to be back! I finally finished my PhD over the summer and I’m back in the classroom teaching.  After six years away, it’s taken me awhile to get my teaching legs back under me, but I think I’ve (sort of) got things under control now.  I’m hoping to contribute here far more regularly again, along with Alin, Santiago, and Kalyn, the wonderful bloggers who’ve kept us going over the last year.

As you all know, as a project supported by the UNM Latin American and Iberian Institute, our focus here at Vamos a Leer is on sharing books and resources to help encourage a broader engagement with Latin America in classrooms.  At the same time, we’re always striving to encourage a greater depth in multicultural content across all area studies.  As a teacher myself, I’ve found that one of the greatest challenges in implementing curriculum that reflects the diversity of our world is simply in finding books and resources.  With this in mind, we’ll be starting a new thematic series of posts on “Reading Recomendaciones” that highlight various reading lists, thematic book compilations, or curated book suggestions from around the web.  Many of these lists will include suggestions that go beyond just Latin American or Latinx themes, so we will highlight those books that are specific to our blog focus.

One of the first resources I want to share is Mind/Shift’s 20 Books Featuring Diverse Characters to Inspire Connection and Empathy based on a list of recommended titles created by the San Francisco Public Library.  The list was first shared in 2016, but many of the books are just now gaining the popularity they deserve, making them more readily accessible on bookstore and library shelves.  I was really excited to see some of our favorite authors like Meg Medina, Matt de la Peña, Duncan Tonatiuh, Tracey Baptiste, Pam Muñoz Ryan, and Edwidge Danticat on the list.  For those of you not familiar with Baptiste, her book The Jumbies came out in 2016, and she just recently released the sequel, The Rise of the Jumbies.  One of my third graders read The Jumbies earlier this year and is anxiously awaiting the sequel I ordered for her out of our most recent Scholastic book order. I’ll let you know what she thinks of it.

Another amazing resource is Gathering Books’ Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Bookshelf —a collection of multicultural/international picture book text-sets across the five SEL competencies.  This is quite an undertaking! Understandably, they are adding one competency at a time.  Currently, both the Self-Awareness and Self-Management sections are available.  I’ve added so many books to my classroom wish list as a result of this resource!

Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to recommend that we all spend some time thinking about Angie Manfredi’s blog post “The Message of Your All White Booklist.” She makes some significant observations about access to diverse books even as the “We Need Diverse Books” movement gains more and more traction.  A New Mexico librarian, Manfredi’s discussion of the New Mexico Battle of the Books list hit close to home for me.  I also think her blog post offers a useful framework from which to move forward in our “Reading Recommendations.”

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Feel free to share in the comments below.  I’m really looking forward to being a regular around here again!

Until next week!

Katrina

¡Mira, Look!: Malaika’s Costume

Buenos días!

We are excited to be back with our book reviews. Throughout the semester we will be interweaving book reviews in both English and Spanish, between our new blog member, Santi, and me. Santi will be writing reviews in Spanish, and I will be writing them in English. Since it’s February, the month of love, we will start by bringing you book reviews surrounding the theme of love for community.

Today we are excited to bring you a review of Malaika’s Costume, written by Nadia L. Hohn and illustrated by Irene Luxbacher. This book is an Honorable Mention recipient of the 2017 Américas Award. It tells the story of Malaika, a young girl in Jamaica living with her granny while her mummy works in Canada to provide for them. In the story, Malaika is struggling with not having a costume for carnival, one of the most exciting festivals in her town. Malaika’s worries and frustrations with the costume are interwoven with missing her mummy, struggling to allow her granny to fill that motherly role, and optimistic expectations of no longer having financial issues since her mummy is working in Canada. In the end, Malaika and her granny find a resolution and Malaika dances beautifully in Carnival.

Luxbacher’s illustrations are absolutely breathtaking. I appreciated Malaika’s imaginative rendering of cold and snowy Canada, and how it contrasts her warm and colorful Jamaican hometown. The imaginative aspect of the illustrations mirrors Malaika’s personality. Hohn’s book as a whole explains important issues that countless children face with parents working from afar to provide for their families.

Also, her description of complex relationships from a child’s perspective is refreshing and necessary within today’s multicultural society. Furthermore, Malaika’s day-to-day interactions with neighbors and extended family members give us cultural insight to life in small-town Jamaica. Hohn includes definitions of different words she uses for understanding the cultural context of the text, including explanations of different types of music, instruments, characters and foods. Although the story is told from Malaika’s point of view, the last page’s illustration allows us to place her mother within the story, and better understand her love for her daughter.

I highly recommend checking out Nadia Hohn’s biography on her website. Nadia’s passion for children’s book diversity led her to publish Malaika’s Costume.

She teaches French, music, and the arts at the Africentric Alternative School where she has been an inaugural staff member since its opening in 2009.  She has taught in Toronto public schools since 2003. Out of her classroom and personal experiences, Hohn crafted edited two literary resources for teaching about Black heritage to grades 4-8, titled SANKOFA, which could be great for teaching this month, given that we are entering Black Heritage Month. Out of the resources in the guide, the SANKOFA Music book would pair well with Malaika’s Costume. While the music book must be purchased, Hohn also offers a number of free strategies for how to engage students with Malaika’s story.

Teachers interested in using this book with their students might also turn to the Smithsonian’s educator materials, particularly their lesson plan (grades 3-5), titled “The Sounds of an Island: Jamaican Music for the Classroom.” You can also explore excerpts of calypso rock songs by the famous Jamaican calypsonians, Horace Johnson & The Eagle Star, on the Smithsonian Folkways site. For quick reference, here is a full audio recording of Horace Johnson’s music. These resources pair with Malaika’s Costume given that this colorful children’s book is as much about music and dance as it is about family. During the Carnival celebrations that inspired the book, the street is full of soca and calypso – musical traditions that are explained on the website for the Trinidad and Tobago’s National Library and Information System.

If you enjoyed this book, we recommend that you check out the sequel, Malaika’s Winter Costume. Here is a promotional video for the sequel, which shows photos of Carnival in Jamaica.

Saludos,

Kalyn

 


Images Modified From Malaika’s Costume: Pages 3, 7, 29, 30