Reading Roundup: Loss and Resolution in Latinx YA Literature

Vamos a Leer | Loss and Resolution in Latinx YA LiteratureBuenos días a todas y todos,

Happy fall!  I hope this finds you each doing well and enjoying the changing of seasons.

Fall, my favorite time of year!  For me, it is characterized not only by the falling leaves, the crisp air, and the distinct scents that come with the changing temperature, but also with a gentle nostalgia, heightened reflection, and sense of calm.  In accordance with our theme for this month, we’re honoring this moment of reflection by pulling together a Reading Roundup that highlights strong protagonists who have experienced some form of loss and resolution in their lives. We hope that this will also be good preparation for teachers who are looking for resources that can help bring these difficult topics into the classroom.

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We Heart Bookworks

The title of this post says it all.  We heart Bookworks, one of the few remaining local, independent bookstores in Albuquerque, and we are proud to collaborate with them on our monthly Vamos a Leer meetings.

Bookworks in Albuquerque, NMI want to give them a shout-out and thank them for all the outreach they do around our humble Vamos a Leer book group.  They tirelessly find ways to support their community!  We saw this illustrated when, on Monday night, we stopped in to discuss Caminar and were greeted with this lovely display (see left).

Not familiar with the store?  Here are a few quick facts about this local establishment:

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Book Review: Caminar

We had such a wonderful time with our book group on Monday night! Everyone really loved this book.  If you didn’t get the chance to join us, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the book.  If you haven’t had the chance to read it yet, it definitely comes highly recommended from Vamos a Leer.  We hope you’ll add it to your TBR list!

CaminarCaminar
Written by Skila Brown
Publ
ished by Candlewick Press
ISBN: 9780763665166
Age Level: 10 and up

BOOK SUMMARY

Carlos knows that when the soldiers arrive with warnings about the Communist rebels, it is time to be a man and defend the village, keep everyone safe. But Mama tells him not yet — he’s still her quiet moonfaced boy. The soldiers laugh at the villagers, and before they move on, a neighbor is found dangling from a tree, a sign on his neck: Communist. Mama tells Carlos to run and hide, then try to find her. . . . Numb and alone, he must join a band of guerillas as they trek to the top of the mountain where Carlos’s abuela lives. Will he be in time, and brave enough, to warn them about the soldiers? What will he do then? A novel in verse inspired by actual events during Guatemala’s civil war, Caminar is the moving story of a boy who loses nearly everything before discovering who he really is.

My thoughts:

Like Journey of Dreams by Marge Pellegrino, Caminar offers a fictionalized account of the violent Guatemalan Civil War that lasted over thirty years.  Both books tell their story through the eyes of a young protagonist, but Brown’s Caminar is a novel in verse.  The style of this genre makes Caminar a perfect introduction to a subject that’s often not covered in young adult fiction or non-fiction.  While the topic itself is certainly complex, the novel in verse format lends itself to struggling readers and ELLs.  Each page is its own poem, so there aren’t long chapters to wade through or difficult dialogues that can be frustrating for readers to try and follow.   With shorter text, teachers can spend more time focusing on meaning, symbolism and imagery in each poem.  Because it is poetry, it would make for a great read aloud, teacher or student led, providing great oral language practice.  I think novels in verse are a great opportunity for focused poetry study as well.  As a novel, they’re longer than the typical poems we teach in the k-12 classroom.  While many students can be intimidated by poetry, the novel in verse gives them time to settle in both to reading poetry and exploring the particular author’s style.  Brown’s work offers so many examples of the creative things a writer can do with poetry just through arrangement, spacing and shape of the poems that it really lends itself to a poetry unit.

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¡Mira, Look! Featured Author: Skila Brown

SkilaHello there readers! I’m back from winter break and I am delighted to introduce this month’s featured author, Skila Brown. Brown is the author of Caminar, this month’s selection for our monthly book group. The novel reflects some themes that we intend to address through the blog this month including human rights and immigration.

Her first completed novel, Brown worked on Caminar while she completed her MFA at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. The book is about the tragic experience of a young boy from Guatemala whose community is massacred. In an interview with S.L. Duncan, Brown said, “I was inspired to write this book after many trips to Guatemala and much reading about its history, specifically the conflict that occurred there just a few decades ago. What happened there was tragic, and I was upset that it was something I’d known nothing about…I wanted to make sure more people knew about what happened.”

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Our Next Good Read. . .Caminar

Join us January 12th at CaminarBookworks from 5:00-7:00 pm to discuss our next book.  We are reading Caminar (Ages 10 and up) by Skila Brown.

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

Carlos knows that when the soldiers arrive with warnings about the Communist rebels, it is time to be a man and defend the village, keep everyone safe. But Mama tells him not yet — he’s still her quiet moonfaced boy. The soldiers laugh at the villagers, and before they move on, a neighbor is found dangling from a tree, a sign on his neck: Communist. Mama tells Carlos to run and hide, then try to find her. . . . Numb and alone, he must join a band of guerillas as they trek to the top of the mountain where Carlos’ abuela lives. Will he be in time, and brave enough, to warn them about the soldiers? What will he do then? A novel in verse inspired by actual events during Guatemala’s civil war, Caminar is the moving story of a boy who loses nearly everything before discovering who he really is.

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Book Giveaway!! Caminar

We’re giving away a copy of Caminar written by Skila Brown–our featured novel for the January book group meeting. Check out the following from School Library Journal:

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