¡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

Congratulations to the 2016 ALA Award Winners!

Vamos a Leer | Award Winning Authors

We are thrilled to share the news that this year’s American Library Association (ALA) awards recognized several amazing Latin@ authorsamong outstanding children’s and young adult books. These authors have played an important part in the diversification of children’s and young adult literature and we are excited to see that their contributions have been acknowledged with such prestigious awards. Never before has the ALA awards recognized such breadth and depth of Latin@ and Latin American culture in a given year! Continue reading

Book Review: Mexican Whiteboy

Mexican whiteboyMexican WhiteBoy
Written by Matt de la Peña
Published by Ember
ISBN: 9780440239383
Age Level: 14 and up

BOOK SUMMARY

Danny’s tall and skinny. Even though he’s not built, his arms are long enough to give his pitch a power so fierce any college scout would sign him on the spot. Ninety-five mile an hour fastball, but the boy’s not even on a team. Every time he gets up on the mound he loses it. But at his private school, they don’t expect much else from him. Danny’s brown. Half-Mexican brown. And growing up in San Diego that close to the border means everyone else knows exactly who he is before he even opens his mouth. Before they find out he can’t speak Spanish, and before they realize his mom has blond hair and blue eyes, they’ve got him pegged. But it works the other way too. And Danny’s convinced it’s his whiteness that sent his father back to Mexico.  That’s why he’s spending the summer with his dad’s family. Only, to find himself, he may just have to face the demons he refuses to see–the demons that are right in front of his face. And open up to a friendship he never saw coming.  Set in the alleys and on the ball fields of San Diego County, Mexican Whiteboy is a story of friendship, acceptance, and the struggle to find your identity in a world of definitions.

My thoughts:

This was one of those books that I didn’t like the first time I read it, but I loved the second time through. In all honesty, my first impression may be due more to secondary factors influencing my experience than the book itself. Since I always read everything at least twice before writing a guide, I thought I’d listen to the audio version of the book the first time through while driving back from Tucson. The audio version does not do de la Peña’s writing justice. I only made it through about 40 pages before I had to turn it off, and unfortunately I think this really tainted my opinion of the book. I waited a few weeks before starting the guide, and as I read the book a second time through, it was like an entirely different experience. I could go into more detail about why I think this is, but for the sake of time I won’t. I mention it here only because I hope that if you read it once and aren’t entirely sold, that you’ll give it a second chance. It’s a book that engages with issues that we rarely see in our classroom literature (I’ll talk more about this below). It’s also a book that is resoundingly well-received by students. Over and over we hear from teachers across the country who all say it’s one of their students’ favorite books.

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¡Mira, Look! Featured Author: Matt de la Peña

Matt de la PenaMatt de la Peña is the author of five young adult fiction novels, a picture book, two books in Scholastic’s popular Infinity Ring Series, and numerous short fiction pieces and essays in various newspapers and literary journals. He received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific where he attended school on a full basketball scholarship. De la Peña currently lives in Brooklyn, NY, where he teaches creative writing.

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En la Clase: A Video from Matt de la Peña

Tomorrow I leave for Tucson to present at the National Association of Multicultural Education Conference.  If by chance any of you will be there, let me know!! I’m really looking forward to it, as my presentation is on Benjamin Alire Sáenz, one of our favorite authors here at Vamos a Leer.  I’m hoping to come back with lots of inspiration for new topics for our weekly En la Clase posts. Unfortunately, as I’ve been busy preparing for the conference, I don’t have an En la Clase post for you this week.  Instead, I thought I’d share a really wonderful video that’s been circulating recently as part of the We Need Diverse Books campaign.  In the video, Matt de la Peña asks kids about books they read and whether they see themselves in the stories.  It was filmed at the LA Central library, which I think is such a wonderful location to complement the message of the short video.  As Matt de la Peña’s Mexican Whiteboy is our featured book for December’s book group, the timing was perfect to share this with you all.  We hope you’ll check it out!

Our Next Good Read…Mexican Whiteboy

Join us December 1st at Mexican whiteboyBookworks from 5:00-7:00 pm to discuss our next book.  We are reading Mexican Whiteboy (ages 14 and up) by .

Here’s a sneak peek into the book: (from Goodreads)

Danny’s tall and skinny. Even though he’s not built, his arms are long enough to give his pitch a power so fierce any college scout would sign him on the spot. Ninety-five mile an hour fastball, but the boy’s not even on a team. Every time he gets up on the mound he loses it.
But at his private school, they don’t expect much else from him. Danny’ s brown. Half-Mexican brown. And growing up in San Diego that close to the border means everyone else knows exactly who he is before he even opens his mouth. Before they find out he can’t speak Spanish, and before they realize his mom has blond hair and blue eyes, they’ve got him pegged. But it works the other way too. And Danny’s convinced it’s his whiteness that sent his father back to Mexico.
That’s why he’s spending the summer with his dad’s family. Only, to find himself, he may just have to face the demons he refuses to see–the demons that are right in front of his face. And open up to a friendship he never saw coming.
Set in the alleys and on the ball fields of San Diego County, Mexican Whiteboy is a story of friendship, acceptance, and the struggle to find your identity in a world of definitions

Continue reading

Book Giveaway!! Mexican Whiteboy

We’re giving away a copy of Mexican WhiteBoy written by Matt de la Pea–our featured novel for December’s book group meeting!! Check out the following from School Library Journal:

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