Review of Mitali Perkins’s Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border (ages 3 – 6)
& Our Book Guide with Supplemental Activities and Resources
In Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2019) , María, a young, clever and quick-witted girl from Southern California, narrates her family’s story about celebrating Las Posadas at the annual La Posada Sin Fronteras celebration that occurs at the aptly named Friendship Park, which is along the border between Tijuana, MX and San Diego, CA. Prior to this celebration, María introduces us to her younger brother, Juan, and her Mamá, Sylvia. María explains that sadly she hasn’t seen her Abuela in five years; however, both María and Juan are elated that they will see their Abuela (albeit through the fences along the border) and thus are busy making final touches to their homemade presents for their Abuela.
After a long bus journey and waiting in line for their turn, María, Juan, and Mamá finally get their chance to see and talk with their beloved Abuela who stands on the other side of the border, in Mexico. Their time spent together goes by quickly as they sing Las Posadas, pass hugs and kisses through the fences, and catch up on other family members that live on either side of the border. At the end of their time together, María tries to pass the scarf that she and Mamá have made for Abuela through the fence when she is stopped by Border Patrol Agents that explain that it is forbidden to pass things through the fence. However, this inspires crafty María to find a different way to ensure that Abuela can receive her Christmas gifts without disobeying the Border Patrol’s rules.
Check out our full book review and educator guide on Between Us and Abuelahere.
Have you read this heartwarming story? Share your thoughts below! How do you plan to celebrate Las Posadas this year?
Saludos todos! This week we are continuing our monthly theme of love with an especially heart-warming book, Under the Lemon Moon, written by Edith Hope Fine and illustrated by Rene King Moreno. This lovely story specifically focuses on themes of forgiveness, generosity and personal growth, expanding our theme of love to include other feelings, values, and personal goals.
This book takes place in the Mexican countryside and the English narration is interspersed with Spanish vocabulary words. Fine has provided an index at the beginning of the book to help non-Spanish speaking readers puzzle through the Spanish interjections. Not only will students learn lessons on patience, forgiveness, and compassion, but they‘ll also get exposure to new vocabulary, while practicing using an index as a tool for comprehension.
Saludos todos, and welcome back to our weekly Mira, Look book reviews! I hope everyone had a relaxing and enjoyable winter holiday.
Our theme for this month is “unsung heroes,” including lesser-known biographies, as well as the cherished yet occasionally overlooked heroes of our personal lives—parents, siblings, teachers and other timeless inspirations. Our first book for the month, Two White Rabbits, written by Mexican author Jairo Buitrago and illustrated by Colombian artist Rafael Yockteng tells the story of a father who courageously brings his daughter across the U.S.-Mexico border. This week we are focusing on this book to honor and celebrate all of the moms and dads who’ve made sacrifices and taken risks for the sake of their children. However, while focusing on the unsung heroes in our personal lives, this book also broaches the topic of unnamed victims (within the context of immigration and refugee rights), providing a double-edged focal point for this story, as well as this month’s themes. As a result, we are kicking off 2017—a fresh start from what was, for many people, a tumultuous and anxiety-inducing year—with books that focus our attention on the people, icons, heroes large and small, and even victims that are often overlooked, unsung, unnamed, or forgotten.
¡Hola a todos! I hope you have a good weekend. Enjoy the materials for this week. I know I had a really fun time gathering them. Let me know what you think, I would love to hear your thoughts.
– As the 50th anniversary of UNESCO’s founding of International Literacy Day, we wanted to share with you The Literacy Project, where they honor past and present efforts to reduce literacy at a global scale.
– Lastly, again from Teaching for Change, we discovered the Smithsonian’s Global Folklorist Challenge where young people between the ages 8-18 are challenging and inspired to interview the elders in their community.
Saludos todos, and welcome to my first book review of the year! I’m thrilled to be back writing for the blog, and I’m especially excited for all of this year’s amazing books.
This month we will be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month while also drawing special attention to the renowned Pura Belpré Award, which recognizes outstanding works of Latinx children’s literature, and is celebrating its 20th year in 2016. The Pura Belpré Award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. In our celebration of this prestigious award and its recipients, we will also be celebrating Pura Belpré herself.
Me llamo (my name is) Alin Yuriko Badillo Carrillo. I am a new Master’s student in the Latin American Studies program at the University of New Mexico. I received my undergraduate degree in Environment and Natural Resources and International Studies with minors in Chicano Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies from the University of Wyoming.
I am originally from Tlaxcala, Mexico, but I was raised in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I am the first in my family to graduate from high school, college, and soon a Master’s program. Not only am I first generation but I am also a DACA recipient- a temporary permit to reside in the US. I am an immigrant and not ashamed of it.
Living in a predominantly white community made me eager to learn about my raza (people). It is then when I discovered my passion for the Americas and inspired me to understand the way communities function. This is the primary reason why one of my concentration tracks within my Latin American Studies degree is in Urbanism and Community Development. I am devoted to creating a peaceful and comfortable environment in the community I choose to reside in upon the completion of my studies.
I look forward to discovering new books to improve the K-12 cultural education and our own intellectual minds. Moreover, I am excited to hear your thoughts as we cross educational boundaries together!
Saludos, todos! After having shared with you this year’s Américas Award and Tomás Rivera Award recipients, we would like to conclude the week by sharing with you the books that won the 2016 Pura Belpré Award, one of the most well-known and prestigious awards for Latinx children’s literature.
The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. It is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate.
We often feature and highlight Pura Belpre award winners on our blog, for our shared mission in diversifying children’s literature and honoring Latinx authors and illustrators. Keep your eyes peeled for my September ¡Mira, Look! book reviews, which will focus on a theme of Pura Belpré award winners. Here we will provide you with a cursory summary of the books to pique your interest, but my upcoming reviews will go more in depth, providing detailed and expanded commentary and resources for using these stellar books in the classroom.
The Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award was established in 1995 by Texas State University College of Education to honor and celebrate the Mexican American experience. The award was named after Dr. Tomás Rivera, the first Mexican American to be selected as Distinguished Alumnus of Texas State University. Aside from being a prolific scholar and creative writer, Tomás Rivera was also a bona fide lover of Mexican American literature, and even became known informally as the Dean of Mexican American Literature in his social circles. He traveled extensively throughout the Americas and Europe reading his own writing, and promoting the general pursuit and awareness of Mexican American literature.
In last year’s post on the 2015 Tomás Rivera award winners, Keira nicely framed Rivera’s influential writing and the impact that he has had on Latin American literature:
Saludos todos! This week we will be introducing our April themes, celebrating the spirit of Earth Day, El Día de los Niños, and National Poetry Month. The ¡Mira Look! blog posts, however, will focus primarily on celebrating Earth Day with themes of nature and environmental care and consciousness. Our book for this week is Maya’s Blanket/ La manta de Maya, written by Monica Brown and illustrated by David Diaz. This heartwarming story puts an imaginative and seemingly magical spin on the practice of recycling, reinforcing the creativity and importance of repurposing old things. Brown is of Peruvian and Jewish descent and this story not only emphasizes the environmental necessity in recycling and repurposing, but also elaborates on those cultures’ traditions associated with old objects. As Brown states in her author’s note, this story was inspired by a Yiddish folk song that was “written long before Earth Day came into being, but celebrates both creativity and recycling.”
According to Brown, this story follows the old Yiddish folk song, “Hob Ikh Mir a Mantl” (“I Had a Little Coat”), which is “about an old overcoat that is continually repurposed as smaller and smaller items.” Indeed, the story of Maya’s blanket traces the many phases of her beloved manta, from blanket, to skirt, to scarf, and so on. The story begins with a lovely, two-page spread of little Maya sleeping with her blanket while her abuelita stitches purple butterflies onto it. The butterflies seem slightly elevated from the rest of the blanket, as though they’re about to fly off the blanket and out the window. This visual effect nicely complements the narrative: “Her manta was magical too—it protected her from bad dreams.” Many of Diaz’s illustrations, outlined in thick, black contour lines, give the impression of something handmade – an effect that reinforces the values of heritage, memory and identity conveyed through the book’s text. This opening scene also introduces the sentimental value of the blanket, which Brown confirms in her author’s note: “I think of my mother tucking me in each night, telling me stories of her childhood in Peru as I snuggled under my yellow blanket decorated with orange butterflies. I also think of my nana, who, with infinite patience and love, taught me how to sew and embroider.” Brown’s author’s note is provided in both English and Spanish, and on the same page she includes a glossary of Spanish words, such as manta (blanket), bufanda (scarf) and cinta (ribbon), that are found interspersed throughout the English text.
Saludos todos! As many of you know, once a month we like to take the time to give special attention to our featured authors and their writing. This week we are featuring Edwidge Danticat, the prolific, inspiring author of many children’s, young adult, and adult books, whom many of you may also recognize from several of my previous ¡Mira, Look! posts. Danticat is originally from Haiti and her books often deal with the culture of Haiti and the immigrant experience, providing a wealth of information on the country’s history, culture and current events.
Here is a short synopsis from Goodreads of Danticat’s life and her abundant accomplishments:
Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti and moved to the United States when she was twelve. She is the author of several books, including Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist; and The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner. She is also the editor of The Butterfly’s Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States and The Beacon Best of 2000: Great Writing by Men and Women of All Colors and Cultures