Mira, Look: Photographic, The Life of Graciela Iturbide

photographicSaludos a todxs,

Today’s post will highlight a recently-released graphic novel about which we are very excited: Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide, written by Isabel Quintero and illustrated by Zeke Peña. We’re thrilled to see this book released from Getty Publications, but we have yet to hold it in our hands. So, our full review is pending. Instead, we’re offering this preview inspired by the author’s and illustrator’s upcoming visit to Albuquerque! If you’re in town, save the date for April 10th, when they’ll be speaking at Hodgin Hall on UNM’s campus!!!

This beautiful graphic novel is available as the English edition (linked above) and as a full, Spanish-language edition called Iguana Lady: La vida de Graciela Iturbide. The novel documents the life and work of the Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide.

Direct from the publisher, here is a summary of the book:

“Graciela Iturbide was born in Mexico City in 1942, the oldest of thirteen children. When tragedy strikes Graciela as a young mother, she turns to photography for solace and understanding. From then on Graciela embarks on a photographic journey that takes her throughout her native Mexico, from the Sonora Desert to Juchitán to Frida Kahlo’s bathroom, to the United States, India, and beyond. Photographic is a symbolic, poetic, and deeply personal graphic biography of this iconic photographer. Graciela’s journey will excite young readers and budding photographers who will be inspired by her resolve, talent, and curiosity.”

The J. Paul Getty Museum’s website has videos that document Iturbide’s work as a photographer, the process for how Quintero and Peña put together this beautiful graphic novel, and also classroom resources to help share the book with students. The website also provides a thoughtful, extensive digital preview of the text as part of the educator resources.photographic_preview (1)_Page_04

In addition, Getty has also put together:

Our copies are already on the way, so we’ll be back in the near future to share a full review with you.

In the meantime, we’ll dwell for a moment on Quintero and Peña as the creators behind this fascinating publication.

Here on our blog we have highlighted Isabel Quintero as a Featured Author. We have also reviewed and created an educator’s guide for her first YA novel, Gabi: A Girl in Pieces. It is one of the absolute favorites among our local book group! She’s also written the recently-released Ugly Cat and Pablo for younger readers, among other essays and poems. Her work is always incredible, be it lighthearted or gritty, as you can read more about in this article, “Author Visit REHASH: Isabel Quintero, YA, and Children’s Writer (and Poet!)” from this blog on children’s literature run by English & Comparative Lit department at SDSU.

 

Pages from photographic_previewZeke Peña likewise holds a place in our hearts. He is the illustrator behind Photographic and also the illustrator behind the hand-drawn sketches and collages in Gabi. Peña, a cartoonist and painter from El Paso, Texas, writes on his website that, “Most of my work is inspired by living on the border and remixes historical narratives with what’s going on today. I use comics to subvert American history and reclaim stories that were burned by colonialism; resistencia one cartoon at a time.” You can learn more about how identity is forefront in his work in this article by Remezcla, “The river holds our history: Artist Zeke Peña Traces the Rio Grande’s Place in Fronterizo Identity.

We hope that this post inspires you to explore this work of art more thoroughly; we know we are excited to read it!

Saludos,
Kalyn & Keira

¡Mira, Look!: Lucía the luchadora

Hoy hablaremos de Lucía the luchadora, una historia de la escritora Cynthia Leonor Garza, que hizo su debut en literatura infantil ilustrada en 2017 y actualmente reside con su familia en Nairobi (Kenia), y la ilustradora Alyssa Bermudez, afincada en Tasmania (Australia). Acompáñanos y salta para derribar prejuicios con nuestra Lucía, quien hace todo lo posible por seguir su propio camino en una red de caminos fuertemente señalizada.

El libro está compuesto por una amalgama textual (en lengua inglesa) y colorido visual que se complementan y crean un conjunto evocador. Lucía the luchadora es una niña entusiasta a quien la indiferencia y ciertos comentarios prejuiciosos de otros niños le hacen cuestionarse su propia valía. Como ser lleno de energía, de aquellos que no se amilanan con los cortapisas de los demás, juega incansablemente en el parque; haciendo acrobacias de todo tipo, a la vez que se da cuenta del poco interés que genera. Incluso algunos niños sostienen con cierto desdén que ese tipo de acrobacias y juegos, propios de los superhéroes, no está hecho para las niñas: ¡las chicas no pueden ser superhéroes!

2Pero no pueden estar más equivocados, porque al día siguiente, cuando Lucía aparece en el parque después de haber ideado un plan con su abuela y vestir su máscara de luchadora, es la sensación total de todo el parque. Todos los presentes se animan a seguir sus juegos, marcando tendencia en los próximos días con luchadores y luchadoras al unísono. Pero, hete aquí que los prejuicios entran en escena de nuevo cuando ciertos rasgos como el color rosa descubren quiénes son las luchadoras. De nuevo aquel las chicas no pueden ser superhéroes surge como un dardo envenenado que Lucía salva con gracia al evitar que su perrito caiga por el tobogán; y tras lo cual descubre su identidad. Ahora todos saben quién es ella, y genera un seguimiento que hará que todos se unan en su disfrute por las acrobacias, dejando a un lado aquellas diferencias que sirven para separar.

3De nuevo una historia pensada para el público infantil trasciende las fronteras de la lectura naíf para reposar en la reflexión social sobre un tema acuciante y recientemente traído a la palestra con mayor vehemencia de la mano de la industria del cine: la igualdad de género, la creación de espacios no restrictivos para que las mujeres ejerzan su derecho a participar activamente de nuestras sociedades sin paliativos. Lucía es una luchadora, metáfora mexicana en el cuadrilátero de la lucha libre, que representa la voz femenina e infantil; aquella que no ha sido coartada por los prejuicios y que tiene el potencial de atajarlos porque no ha conocido el continuo y rotundo no. Sus saltos y acrobacias tienen el poder de hacerle llegar a los demás, generando una suerte de unión que está por encima de lo divisorio.

Aunque parcialmente enmascarada, Lucía se da cuenta de que el miedo a exponerse, en definitiva a ser vulnerable, es simplemente otra forma más de autocensurar el lugar que merece en el parque: con todos. Lucía the luchadora extiende sus tentáculos hasta el mundo adulto para hacernos ver la fuerza de la identidad propia, de la autodeterminación en un ambiente de cierta hostilidad. Una hostilidad que, si bien cargada de malicia o ignorancia, deja espacio no obstante para verse empequeñecida cuando la valía personal, más allá del género, la raza o la sexualidad emerge para desafiarla.

4Todos aquellos que en algún momento hemos sentido rechazo o indiferencia por ser nosotros mismos, somos también Lucía. Tenemos el potencial para hacernos oír, y si somos pacientes, con el tiempo descubriremos que, a pesar de todo, sí es posible ser auténticos con nosotros mismos y con los demás.

Cynthia Leonor Garza ha debutado con Lucía the luchadora como escritora de literatura infantil ilustrada en el año 2017. En su recorrido profesional ha participado como periodista en las publicaciones The Houston Chronicle o el Fort Worth Star-Telegram, además de escribir ensayos. Por su parte, la ilustradora Alyssa Bermudez ha trabajado con clientes de la talla de The New York Magazine, Pearson Publishing o Hobart City Council.

Recursos relacionados y enfocados a la promoción de la inclusión en las aulas:

Espero que os haya gustado la recomendación de hoy y que, al igual que Lucía, os animéis a derribar los rancios prejuicios que nos rodean ¡Seguid atentos a la serie del mes!

Santi

¡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!: Topilitzkuintli/El perro topil

¡Buenos días! Today we will continue our Indigenous Peoples book reviews with Topilitzkuintli/El perro topil. The story is written in Spanish by Elisa Ramírez Castañeda, translated to Nahuatl by Miguel Ángel Tepole, and illustrated by Francisco Toledo. Toledo is a significant Zapotec artist and activist from the Tehuantepec peninsula, and Ramírez Castañeda is a poet, sociologist and translator who works to spread the importance of indigenous cultures in both Native and non-Native communities. She is also author of the book titled La educación indígena en México, where she writes extensively about indigenous peoples of Mexico and their inclusion/exclusion in the Mexican nation and education. Toledo and Castañeda are also married with two children.

This Nahuatl story tells the tale of why dogs always smell each others’ rear-ends when they first meet one another. Kids will find this story silly and entertaining. In the story, dogs have been continually mistreated by humans. To resolve this, they decide to bring a message to the region’s leader, Señor Tlalocan, so that he will punish the humans. They choose one dog that would deliver the message, and name this dog the Perro Topil. Since the Perro Topil will be crossing rivers and mountains, the dogs carefully consider a safe place to keep the message during his journey. In the end, they decid to put it in the Perro Topil’s rear-end. Time goes by, and the message never reaches Señor Tlalocan.  We are to surmise that this explains why, even today, when dogs first meet, they smell each others’ rears in search of the Perro Topil and the message he carries.

I am happy to see the inclusion of Nahuatl in the text, especially since the story itself is from the Nahuatl people. If you are interested in the Nahuatl language and culture, you can check out a post I wrote a few weeks ago about The Princess and the Warrior by Duncan Tonatiuh. This post contains various links about the Nahuatl language, along with other indigenous languages in Mexico.

The paintings in this book are exquisite and exemplary of Francisco Toledo’s painting style. Each turn of the page reveals a new painting extending across two pages. These illustrations provide an opportunity to discuss the Mexican muralist movement, which greatly influenced Francisco Toledo’s work. For those unfamiliar with Mexican muralism, the Art History Teaching Resources (AHTR) website provides useful background information and lesson plans. PBS also has a lesson plan, “The Storm That Swept Mexico | Lesson Plan: Revolutionary Art,” that accompanies a video about the Mexican Revolution; however, the materials can stand alone in regards to their discussion of Mexican muralism. Apart from these lesson plans, students might also benefit from having the chance to discuss the similarities/differences between Toledo and other Mexican muralists.

Saludos,

Kalyn

Our Next Good Read

Join us on Monday, December 11th at Tractor Brewing (1800 4th St NW) from Like Water for Chocolate/ Como agua para chocolate | Vamos a Leer | Laura Esquivle5:00-7:00 pm to discuss our next book.  It’s another adult novel month! This month we decided to do a “fan favorite” and our book group chose Like Water for Chocolate/ Como agua para chocolate by Laura EsquivelThis book is available in both English and Spanish (each version is hyperlinked above)!

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

A sumptuous feast of a novel, it relates the bizarre history of the all-female De La Garza family. Tita, the youngest daughter of the house, has been forbidden to marry, condemned by Mexican tradition to look after her mother until she dies. But Tita falls in love with Pedro, and he is seduced by the magical food she cooks. In desperation, Pedro marries her sister Rosaura so that he can stay close to her, so that Tita and Pedro are forced to circle each other in unconsummated passion. Only a freakish chain of tragedies, bad luck and fate finally reunite them against all the odds.

We hope to see you there!

We’ll also be raffling off a copy of January’s featured book, Maximilian & the Mystery of the Guardian Angel: A Bilingual Lucha Libre Thriller (Grades 2 – 7)Join us that evening to be entered!

¡Mira, Look!: The Princess and the Warrior

¡Buenos días!

November is Native American Heritage Month.  Typically, this means that the internet is flooded with underwhelming and endless lists of books highlighting “Indians and Pilgrims” – using this as the only opportunity throughout the year to discuss indigenous peoples of the US, and typically through a distorted lens.

We’re taking a different route, one that will celebrate the lesser-told stories of individual cultures and stories among Indigenous peoples of the Americas.

A brief aside: There are amazing educators out there who are debunking, challenging, and critiquing how to teach Native American Heritage Month in the classroom. A few of them offer resources that we wanted to put at your fingertips: Check Your Curriculum? Are Native Americans in the Past Tense? by Zinn Education Project; Some Thoughts About Native American Month and Thanksgiving by Debbie Reese of the American Indians in Children’s Literature blog; and the Rethinking Columbus guide from Rethinking Schools. These are just a few. As you find others, please add them to the comments below.

Since we at Vamos a Leer have been engaging in this conversation every November for the past few years, we’ve compiled other resources that may be useful to you. You might consider checking out our content on teaching about Indigenous Peoples, as well as our related materials on Rethinking Thanksgiving. And finally, you might refer, too, Reading Roundup of “10 Books About Indigenous Peoples of Latin America” – some of which we’ll cover in more depth in this month’s reviews.

We begin our reviews this month with the children’s book, The Princess and the Warrior, written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh. This title is an Illustrator Honor Book of the 2017 Pura Belpré Award and a Commended Title for the 2017 Américas Award, among others.

In this book, Tonatiuh tells his own version of the legend of Itzaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl, which are the two volcanoes southeast of Mexico City. Tonatiuh recounts the legend of how these volcanoes came to be, but adds his own twist to this well-known Mexican story.

The book is a love story about the beautiful princes Itza, who falls in love with a warrior, Popoca. Itza’s father, the emperor, prefers that Itza marry a powerful tlatoani, or ruler, rather than a simple soldier. However, he concedes that if Popoca is able to defeat Jaguar Claw of the neighboring area, with whom they have been at war, Itza and Popoca can marry. Although Popoca fights bravely and eventually triumphs over Jaguar Claw, a twist in the plot leads Itza to believe that Popoca has actually been defeated. In her grief, Itza drinks a special octli (fermented beverage) and cannot be awoken. Popoca, grief stricken, lays her on a bed of flowers and remains by her side throughout time. And that is how the two volcanoes came to be. As Kirkus Reviews writes, it’s a story “equal parts melancholic and transcendent – a genuine triumph.” Continue reading

Summer Reading

May-2017-Vamos-a-LeerHi all,

We’re still here! Some of our students may have left the office, but a few of us are still here quietly working away during the summer months and our local book group is going strong.

So, I’m popping in with a few pieces of news to share.

First, keep your eye out for scattered updates from Hania, who will be keeping us company this summer as she shares more interviews from award-winning Américas authors and illustrators.

Second, I’m pleased to report that our local book group has decided to continue reading adult novels over the summer. In case you’re in Albuquerque and want to join us, or if you’re further afield and just want to follow along, below I’ve copied what we’ll be reading.

That’s it for now!  Don’t be surprised if you hear from us every now and again in the next few weeks when opportunities arise, but come August we’ll return to our scheduled content.

Cheers,
Keira

 

June 19th @ Tractor Brewing |  5:00-7:00 p.m.

1800 4th St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102

Clarice-LispectorThe Complete Stories of Clarise Lispector

The recent publication by New Directions of five Lispector novels revealed to legions of new readers her darkness and dazzle. Now, for the first time in English, are all the stories that made her a Brazilian legend: from teenagers coming into awareness of their sexual and artistic powers to humdrum housewives whose lives are shattered by unexpected epiphanies to old people who don’t know what to do with themselves. Clarice’s stories take us through their lives―and ours.

From one of the greatest modern writers, these stories, gathered from the nine collections published during her lifetime, follow an unbroken time line of success as a writer, from her adolescence to her death bed.

NY Times Review / New Yorker / The Globe and the Mail / Paris Review

 

July 17th @ Casa Rondeña | 5:00-7:00 p.m.

733 Chavez Rd, Los Ranchos De Albuquerque, NM 87107

Umami

Umami / Umami by Laia Jufresa

It started with a drowning.

Deep in the heart of Mexico City, where five houses cluster around a sun-drenched courtyard, lives Ana, a precocious twelve-year-old who spends her days buried in Agatha Christie novels to forget the mysterious death of her little sister years earlier. Over the summer she decides to plant a milpa in her backyard, and as she digs the ground and plants her seeds, her neighbors in turn delve into their past. The ripple effects of grief, childlessness, illness and displacement saturate their stories, secrets seep out and questions emerge — Who was my wife? Why did my Mom leave? Can I turn back the clock? And how could a girl who knew how to swim drown?

In prose that is dazzlingly inventive, funny and tender, Laia Jufresa immerses us in the troubled lives of her narrators, deftly unpicking their stories to offer a darkly comic portrait of contemporary Mexico, as whimsical as it is heart-wrenching.

NPR Book Interview / The Culture Trip Review