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.

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©.

October 6th | Week in Review

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Hola a todos,

It is a hard week for many around the country. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and communities. For educators addressing this most recent violence in the classroom, please consider referring to Scholastic’s Resources for parents and educators for talking to children about the Las Vegas shooting. “No matter where you reside, it’s likely the young people you know will see the news headlines on television and online.” Like the quote says, it doesn’t matter where a person resides, children will be affected and classrooms should address this issue regardless of the subject being taught.

You might also consider this article addressing how to Harness Effects of Negative News on Young People using Literacy for Healing. “The right books and stories can open doors for meaningful conversations and propel young people toward civic engagement.”

And as we acknowledge Las Vegas, so we also acknowledge the ongoing recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and Mexico. For those who embrace this as a teachable moment, here is an excellent syllabus of essential tools for critical thinking about the Puerto Rican debt crisis.

Finally, for those who are turning the page to other conversations, here is a smattering of other recent resources and materials:

  • In a moment when traumatic stories and experiences are forefront, it’s important to take a moment and offer students a celebratory perspective of their cultures. Classroom Communities shared a personal note in this regard with their article on “Celebrating through Stories” during Hispanic Heritage Month.  “As a young African-American girl it was hard for me during the month of February when I felt that Black History month was spent learning about slavery and hardship. The celebratory aspect was often lost for me. As a teacher I have tremendous power over how students feel during these months of celebration. In our classroom community we choose to celebrate stories, authors, and people who represent this rich culture of beauty and strength.”
  • Remezcla’s 10 Books With Well-Developed, Complex Afro-Latino Characters.
  • Rethinking Schools shared how you can take the fight against white supremacy into schools. “…But more than that, we need a history that helps us learn how to move beyond tearing down statues and toward tearing down the racist system that those statues represent.”
  • For more resources for Hispanic Heritage Month, Colorín Colorado has a great book list for elementary schools.
  • If you would like to teach about Indigenous people, consider using animated shorts that celebrate 11 of Mexico’s Indigenous Languages.
  • Latinx in Kid Lit flipped the script and shared A Letter from Young Adult Readers to Latinx Writers About Race, Gender, and Other Issues. “I asked students to create suggestions of what they hoped to see in Latinx literature for youth. What follows is a list of suggestions gathered from our collective conversation and survey of Latinx literature for youth, including comments composed by my students for those who are currently writing and those who hope to write for young readers. Students also kept in mind those in publishing and award committees.”
  • And as a last note to send us with positive thoughts for the day, there are beautiful new books swirling around in the blogging world right now. A few that caught our eye:
    • From Latinx in Kid Lit, a book review of Martí’s Song for Freedom / Martí y sus versos por la libertad, written by Emma Otheguy and illustrated by Beatriz Vidal. “The back cover features an actual portrait of José Martí, and a quote: ‘And let us never forget that the greater the suffering, the greater the right to justice, and that the prejudices of men and social inequalities cannot prevail over the equality which nature has created’…beyond Cuba, Martí’s Song for Freedom/Martí y sus versos por la libertad comes at an important time when even young readers are thinking about how we might make the world a more just place.”
    • From LGBTQ Reads, an interview with Anna-Marie McLemore, author of Wild Beauty, of which the author writes that “Wild Beauty is my bi Latina girls and murderous, enchanted gardens book. It’s the story in which I gave myself permission to go all in with the feel and setting of a fairy tale, but with the focus on the kind of girls we often see left out of fairy tales.”

 Image: We Can End Gun Violence. Reprinted from PA PENN Live under CC©.

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Reading RoundUp: Diversifying Women’s History (Month) with Hispanic Stories


Hello, dear readers!

It’s not often that I get the chance to contribute TWICE to the blog in one week, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to chime in on the conversation about diversifying Women’s History Month. I’ve been humming to myself over here in the office as I’ve been digging into children’s and young adult literature focused on women’s history – and Hispanic women’s contributions to history, in particular. While there are beautiful books by and about women peppered throughout the blog and in our previous Reading RoundUp posts, for this month I had the pleasure of finding and compiling books based on real life heroines. These are books that highlight the groundbreaking, earth-shattering contributions and hard work of Hispanic/Latina/Chicana and indigenous women in the United States, Cuba, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Guatemala, Paraguay, and Chile. Sometimes their work was an act of personal triumph; at other times, it revolutionized society.  Their achievements break barriers in music, labor rights, school segregation, literature, and art.  Across the spectrum, their stories are absolutely worthwhile.

As a caveat, I should add that I haven’t personally read all of the books on this list — like The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande, When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago, and Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood — but they’re stellar publications if others’ reviews are anything to go by.  If you should add them to your bookshelf, please let us know what you think. They’re certainly on our TBR list now.

Side note: The descriptions provided below are all reprinted from the publishers’ information.

Without further ado, here are 15 children’s and YA books that we hope will expand your classroom and home discussions about Women’s History Month!

En solidaridad,
Keira

p.s. Remember that Teaching for Change is offering a discount in their TFC non-profit, indie bookstore in honor of Women’s History Month. Just use the code Women2017 at checkout!

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