¡Mira, Look! Carmela Full of Wishes/ Los Deseos de Carmela

Queridos lectores,

Para cerrar febrero, hemos elegido una historia que habla sobre el amor hacia la familia. El libro del que hablaré a continuación fue escrito en inglés y cuenta también con una edición en español. ¡Animamos a los lectores a que comenten en ambos idiomas!

El libro infantil Carmela Full of Wishes o Los deseos de Carmela fue producido por el escritor estadounidense Matt de la Peña y por el ilustrador estadounidense Christian Robinson, cuya colaboración anterior fue el galardonado libro infantil Last Stop on Market Street. Ahora, los dos han producido otro libro espectacular, esta vez con una narrativa que gira alrededor del día de cumpleaños de una niña pequeña en una comunidad migrante.  La historia combina elementos del entorno social de Carmela, con su historia de amor fraternal y familiar. De manera sutil, elementos fuertes tales como la deportación de su padre y el desempleo, son intercalados con la ilusión de una niña ante la posibilidad de pedir un deseo.

Al inicio de la historia, Carmela sopla las velas de su pastel, pero no pide nada para sí misma. Su sueño ya se había cumplido, puesto que la niña ya era lo suficientemente grande como para acompañar a su hermano mayor en sus quehaceres diarios. Pero para él, tener a su hermana de compañía durante todo el día es menos que ideal, y esto introduce tensión entre ambos.

A lo largo de la historia ambos atraviesan altibajos. Para mí esta situación es interesante, ya que de la Peña no idealiza la relación fraternal. La mayor parte del libro, ambos pelean y se responden de mala manera. No obstante, es su hermano quién enseña a Carmela a encontrar belleza donde menos lo espera. Mientras caminan, encuentran un diente de león creciendo en el pavimento, y ella aprende que, si sopla las pelusas, podría pedir un deseo. Carmela se ilusiona e imagina todas las cosas que se podrían cumplir. Uno de sus deseos, es que su padre vuelva a casa, algo que no es posible al momento ya que él no tiene sus papeles en regla. Los deseos de la niña son acompañados por ilustraciones de papel picado que nos muestran cuales serían los deseos de Carmela.

Esta combinación refuerza la conexión de la historia de Carmela con su entorno social y cultural. El papel picado, es un elemento cultural importante en México. Se lo usa en celebraciones tales como el día de los muertos o pascua. Además, al inicio de la historia, de la Peña menciona el olor de las caléndulas, también conocidas como flor de muertos ya que se lo usa en esta celebración.  Lo que me lleva a pensar en la intención del autor y del ilustrador en reforzar la idea de la importancia de la familia y de la conexión con nuestra cultura.

La historia tiene componentes de la cultura mexicana, sin embargo, el hecho de que la historia no mencione directamente a ningún lugar o país hace que sea una historia con la que muchos lectores puedan identificarse. En su página oficial, el autor menciona su intención de mostrar a niños migrantes un personaje con el que ellos puedan identificarse. Además, menciona el hecho de que una gran cantidad de familias en Estados Unidos son de estatus mixto, es decir los padres tienen diferentes estatus migratorios. Para de la Peña, muestra la faceta humana de estadísticas y cifras que encontramos sobre familias y personas de distintas procedencias y situaciones.

Al final, ambos hermanos llegan a un entendimiento el uno del otro y la historia nos muestra que la belleza del amor fraternal no se basa en una idealización o armonía constante, si no en que al final del día siempre estamos los unos para los otros. El autor finaliza la historia con un final abierto, en el que el lector puede poner su propio significado. Para mí, es la realización de Carmela que su vida está llena de promesa, y que no necesita distraerse de su realidad ya que lo que la rodea tiene su propia belleza.

Para más información sobre el contenido del libro, visite estos links:

Nos vemos pronto,

Carolina


Citation: All the above images have been included and modified from the book
Carmela Full of Wishes

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¡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.

March 2, 2018 | Week in Review

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Hello, all,

Here are a few resources that caught our eye in the past week from the world of diversity in children’s literature. Enjoy!

  • Junot Díaz has revealed his tour dates for his children’s book, ISLANDBORN. This is Díaz’s first venture into children’s books and he’s started off splendidly with this ” picture book [that] celebrates cultural diversity in the U.S. and poses questions about identity and belonging, as Díaz tells the story of a young girl’s imaginary journey back to her birthplace: ‘The Island.'”
  • Dolly Parton is known for many things, but not everyone knows she’s dedicated to promoting literacy in her home community. Just this week, she announced that she’s donated her 100 millionth book and has started a new partnership with the Library of Congress. Learn more on her website.
  • Latinx in Kid Lit shared a cover reveal for Bookjoy, Wordjoy, a new children’s book out by writer Pat Mora and illustrator Raúl Colón from Lee & Low Books.
  • From the blog, Blog on the Hyphen, we came across this great list of 10 Contemporary Afro-Latino Authors to Know. Regardless that Black History Month is officially over, these authors should still be making their way to your TBR list.
  • We’re excited to share Lee & Low’s news that they’re starting the Más Pinata collection as part of their Bebop Books imprint. “Más Piñata is a series of leveled books for Emerging and Beginning Readers, available in both Spanish and English. Más Piñata offers rich, culturally-relevant stories that support meaningful literacy development in guided reading and biliteracy settings.”
  • Lastly, De Colores shared a beautiful review of Jorge Argueta’s latest book, Agua, Aguita / Water, Little Water, written alongside illustrator Felipe Ugalde Alcántara  “…for the great beauty and teaching that it encompasses, Agua, Agüita / Water, Little Water / At Achichipiga At is highly recommended.”

Cheers,
Keira

February 16, 2018 | Week in Review

Hello, all,

I’m stepping in this Friday while Alin is out of the office. As always, more happened in the past week than we can begin to tap into here. Forefront in our minds are the students whose lives were taken. We take a moment of silence to acknowledge and honor them, and grieve with their loved ones. [long pause and deep breath]

  • For more than 10 years, the writers at The Brown Bookshelf have used Black History Month as inspiration for their flagship initiative, 28 Days Later, a month-long showcase of the best in Picture Books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult novels written and illustrated by Black creators. Their 2018 collection, currently at #16, is inspiring and we highly encourage you to check it out.
  • Ever heard of a sensitivity reader? They’re the folks who read books prior to publication to help authors sensitively and accurately portray characters if they’re of a different culture. Recently, Dhonielle Clayton, a sensitivity reader, author, and one of the chief executives of We Need Diverse Books, shared some insight into her work and its importance. You can learn more by reading the articles “What the Job of a Sensitivity Reader is Really Like” and “Sensitivity Reading Reinforces and Encourages a More Diverse and Aware Publishing Process.” She writes that, while “Many claim that sensitivity readers are diversity police officers telling (white) writers that they cannot write cross-culturally…one thing that gets left out of the conversation is that, when an author fails to write well-rounded, fleshed-out characters outside their own realm of experience, it’s, at its core, a craft failure. In simple terms: it’s bad writing.”
  • We heard that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will launch a new imprint, Versify, in Spring 2019, and that it will be curated by author Kwame Alexander! “‘I get asked what will make Versify different from other imprints,’ says Kwame Alexander. ‘The truth is we are not reinventing publishing. It’s the same ingredients in our kitchen as everyone else’s: we want to publish books for children that are smart and fun, that inform and inspire, that help children imagine a better world. My goal is just to make sure there are more chefs in the kitchen, more voice sin the room, that create unique and intelligent entertainment that electrifies and edifies young people.”
  • Mind overloaded at the end of the week? How about taking in a few short sound bytes about why we need diverse books?
  • And, ending on an uplifting note, we offer congratulations and felicidades to the authors and illustrators who received recognition at the recent American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards! Congrats to Ruth Behar for Lucky Broken Girl, Pablo Cartaya for The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora, Celia E. Pérez for The First Rule of Punk, Susan Middleton Elya and Juan Martinez-Neal for La Princesa and the Pea, Monica Brown and John Parra for Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos, and Xelena Gonzalez and Adriana M. Garcia for All Around Us! Visit Latinx in Kid Lit for links to reviews and more info about these authors, illustrators, and their respective works.

Best,
Keira

November 3rd | Week in Review

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¡Hola a todos! I cannot believe we are already in November! Time is going by fast. I hope you enjoy the compiled resources; I always enjoy gathering them.

– Puerto Rico is still very much in our hearts and minds here at The University of New Mexico, but apparently it’s not in most US classrooms. Courtesy of Teaching for Change, here is a list of “Puerto Rican Children’s Literature for Social Justice: A Bibliography for Educators” by Marilisa Jimenez Garcia, PhD. “Recent national news reflects the public’s lack of knowledge of the U.S. as a country in possession of colonies, such as Guam and Puerto Rico. In a 2016 poll, many Americans were unaware that Puerto Ricans born on the island were U.S. citizens. Moreover, Puerto Ricans remain one of the largest Latinx populations in the U.S. with a continuous migration and diaspora resulting from over a century and half of U.S. interventions and economic upheaval.”

– Latinx in Kid Lit continue with their excellent reviews of recent books by Latinx authors. Among their more recent reviews are Marta Big and Small and The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra, as jointly reviewed by Ruby Jones. Ms. Jones has worked in public libraries since 2007.

– De Colores: The Raza Experience in Books for Children always brings us sharply focused reviews of Latinx children’s books – many not by Latinx authors. In one of their latest features, they share some of the reasons why Home at Last by Susan Middleton Elya is not recommended “…But this unrealistic and didactic story serves only to reinforce the stereotype of Mexican women…”

– La Bloga recently shared an interview with Hector Luis Alamo, an editor and publisher for Enclave as well as a guest columnist for Chile’s Prensa Irreverente. In this interview, this Latino artivist shares his experience of how he became passionate about reading, his favorite poems, and how he came to find his career path.

– In our offline conversations, we talk frequently about how books can serve as windows, mirrors, and doors. Lee & Low Books focused on the “mirrors: possibilities in their latest post on their blog, The Open Book, where they emphasized the importance of “Mirror Books” in the classroom.

– Lastly, as Día de los Muertos takes this week, we thought it important to share Teaching Tolerance’s recent post on Let Día de los Muertos Stand on Its Own. “This holiday, which is distinctly different from Halloween, presents a wonderful opportunity to foster empathy among students.”

Abrazos,
Alin Badillo


Image: Monumento al Nazareno, Venezuela. Reprinted from Flickr user Wilmer Osarlo under CC©.