Lee & Low Book Tour: Mamá The Alien/Mamá la Extraterrestre

mama the alienSaludos todos! Today I would like to take the time to feature a new release, Mamá The Alien/Mamá la Extraterrestre, written by René Colato Laínez and illustrated by Laura Lacámara. We’re proud to highlight Laínez and Lacámara’s work as part of a blog tour organized by one of our favorite publishers, Lee & Low Books. Vamos a Leer is participating alongside a whole host of superb Latinx-focused blogs, including The Latina Book Club, Mommy Maestra, Latinaish, Pragmatic Mom, Reading Authors, and The Logonauts.

Lee and Low Books is the largest multicultural children’s book publisher in the country, and, naturally, a consistent source of the books we feature on the  Vamos a Leer blog. To celebrate the release of this book, and highlight its important discussion of the terms “illegal” and “alien,” Lee & Low recently invited Laínez to write a guest post titled “No More ‘Illegal Aliens’ ” on their blog, The Open Book.  I highly recommend that you visit their blog to read Laínez’s own words, but here’s a snippet that stood out strongly to us here at Vamos a Leer:

My goal as a children’s books author is to produce strong multicultural children’s literature; stories where minority children are portrayed in a positive way, where they see themselves as heroes, and where they dream and hope for the future. I wanted to write authentic stories of Latin American children living in the United States.

This objective resonates strongly with our own mission, and only reinforces this book’s potential to serve as a valuable resource to young readers. We strongly refute the practice of dehumanizing immigrants beneath such misleading terms as “illegal” or “alien,” let alone the two combined. If you’re not familiar with the effort to do away with these words, you can gain a basic grasp by reading Lee & Low’s post on “Diversity 102: The Library of Congress Battle Over ‘Illegal Alien‘” and watching this TEDBlog presentation on “Rethinking the term ‘illegal’ immigrant: Because people can’t be illegal.”

MAMA_THE_ALIEN_spread_2But that’s part of a bigger discussion meriting much more time. For the moment, I’m going to redirect attention back to our featured title. Here’s the publisher’s summary:

When Mama’s purse falls on the floor, Sofia gets a peek at Mama’s old Resident Alien card and comes to the conclusion that Mama might be an alien from outer space. Sofia heads to the library to learn more about aliens. Some are small and some are tall. Some have four fingers on each hand and some have large, round eyes. Their skin can be gray or blue or green. But Mama looks like a human mother! Could she really be an alien? Sofia is still puzzling out this mystery when she sees an alien-looking Mama one night. It turns out Mama is doing a beauty treatment so she will look her best for her citizenship ceremony. That’s when Sofia realizes that in English, an alien can be someone from another planet, and it can also be a person from another country. Just like Mama! Filled with imagination and humor, Mamá the Alien/Mamá la extraterrestre is a lighthearted immigration tale and a celebration of family, no matter where that family comes from. Even if its outer space!

Both author and illustrator are remarkable. Laínez has long been a favorite author of ours here at Vamos a Leer. When Kalyn was writing her post on 10 Bilingual Children’s Books About Immigration, we were hard pressed not to include every book that Laínez has written. In addition, Lorraine delighted in pairing two of his beautiful books in her review post, ¡Mira, Look!: My Shoes and I, & From North to South. You can learn more about this award-winning children’s book author from El Salvador by visiting Laínez’s official website.

MAMA_THE_ALIEN_spread_3Similarly, Laura Lacámara is also another favorite of ours here. She’s a Cuban-born, award-winning illustrator whom we’ve featured previously on the blog with our review of the beautifully written and illustrated (she did both!) children’s book, Dalia’s Wondrous Hair / El cabello maravilloso de Dalia.  To find out more about her, visit her official website.

Together Laínez and Lacámara have put together a memorable book that explores some of the most complex and sensitive aspects of immigration. And thanks to Lee & Low, we’re able to help bring it to your bookshelf. The publisher is offering a FREE copy to Vamos a Leer readers. Just leave us a comment below by next Friday, August 27, 2016, and we’ll enter you in the drawing.

Stay tuned for more award-winning features, as well as my upcoming, September book reviews!

¡Hasta pronto!


Images taken from Lee & Low Books



¡Mira, Look!: My Shoes and I, & From North to South/Del norte al sur

My Shoes and IFrom North to SouthHello there, readers: This week’s ¡Mira, Look! is a double header! I’ve reviewed two wonderful children’s books regarding one of January’s theme’s- immigration. These books, written by the same author, offer two beautifully crafted stories that bring to light the tragic reality that many first- and second-generation immigrant children must deal with: family separation.

In these stories, the protagonists cross the border in order to be reunited with their mothers. The two books complement each other and reflect the diversity of immigrant experiences and legal situations. They depict situations on different sides of the north/south border spectrum: a boy who migrates north through Central America to reunite with his mother, and a boy who heads south to Mexico to visit his mother who has been deported.

The first book we will look at is My Shoes and I, written by René Colato Laínez and illustrated by Fabricio Vanden Broeck. Here is a review from Goodreads:

A timely and iCrossing Mountainsnspiring story. Mario is leaving his home in El Salvador. With his father by his side, he is going north to join his mother, who lives in the United States. She has sent Mario a new pair of shoes. He will need good shoes because the journey north will be long and hard. He and his father will cross the borders of three countries. They will walk for miles, ride buses, climb mountains, and cross a river. Mario has faith in his shoes. He believes they will take him anywhere. On this day, they will take him to the United States, where his family will be reunited.Crossing River

This book, reminiscent of an adventure story, depicts the journey that Mario undergoes with his father across Central America to reunite with his mother in the U.S. The book delicately includes a glimpse of the dangerous aspects of this migration that Mario endures, such as being chased by dogs, escaping out of a flooded trailer, and crossing a raging river. As Mario’s shoes deteriorate, he does not give up on them, but rather sings them a lullaby and reassures them that they will make it.

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WWW: Book Trailers for Latino Children’s Literature

Hello, all,

This week I’m highlighting a feature that’s emerged in the era of online books and accompanying digital promotional campaigns: book trailers.

Book trailers, in case you haven’t heard of them, are video trailers for books.  Pretty simple.  They are videos meant to help potential readers become engaged and get excited. Book trailers are interesting in both a before and after sense.  Before a reader ever picks up a book, the trailer may provide the impetus for him or her to actually open the cover and flip through the pages.   After a reader has finished a book, the book trailer concept allows him or her another avenue to express and react – many book trailers come not from the big publisher behind the book, but rather from individual readers who post a video on a community video service like YouTube. Continue reading