March 30th| Week in Review


¡Hola a todos! I am glad for another interesting Women’s History Month. Though we think the focus on women should continue throughout the year, here are a few “last minute” resources you might add to the WHM list, along with some other tidbits we came across.

–  Just as we are preparing to host Isabel Quintero and Zeke Peña here at the University of New Mexico, Latinxs in Kid Lit has shared their review of Quintero’s and Peñas’s latest collaboration, a graphic novel on The Life of Graciela Iturbide. “It’s no small order to synthesize a lifetime of artistic growth and achievement, but this book delivers, thanks to the wonderful collaborative work of Isabel Quintero and Zeke Peña, who are impressive artists in their own right, with rich futures in their respective fields.”

– Lee & Low shared their forthcoming Spring Paperbacks favorite titles, including one that made us super excited – a Spanish translation of our beloved book, Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall. El verano de las mariposas is almost here!

 – Want a quick literary moment for your day? La Bloga shared an inspiring and hilarious story, “Cruising with Nayto,” that features Dr. Alvaro Huerta, an assistant professor of Urban and Regional Planning as well as Ethnic and Women’s Studies, at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona.

– Check out Padma’s Book blog piece on “I is for Inclusion,” where blogger and author Padma Venjatraman discusses how to create a “more inclusive and comfortable atmosphere before, during, and after author visits/events.”

– Other sources about Women’s History month that are at once outstanding, inspiring, and refreshing are pieces that highlight the original Pura Belpré, including how Afro-Latina Pura Belpré gave children the precious love of books and stories and how NYC’s First Puerto Rican Librarian Brought Spanish To The Shelves.

— For another lit moment, here are 10 Books by Latina Authors You Should Read During Women’s History Month.

— And here are five female writers and the women who inspired them.

– We offer our congrats to Jacqueline Woodson for winning the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award– the world’s prestigious and largest award for children’s writing. Outstanding!

– Our local libraries made the news here for recognizing the one and only Rudolfo Anaya. Our North Valley Library has been renamed as the  Rudolfo Anaya North Valley Library. Dean Smith-the director of the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Public Library System emphasized that renaming the library is a tradition “where we honor authors who have made major contributions to the literary canon of New Mexico.” Truth be told, though, Anaya’s impact goes far beyond NM. He’s a legend no matter where you are or what you read!

– Finally, with Easter celebrations upon us, here is Hip Latinas’s list of Semana Santa Traditions from Spanish-Speaking Countries.

Alin Badillo

Image: Palace of Fine Arts, Mexico City. Reprinted from Flickr user Lul_piquee under CC©.


¡Mira, Look!: Messengers of Rain: and Other Poems from Latin America

multicultural teaching, young adult literature, award, educationEnglish, History and Sociology teachers know that poetry can be an extremely useful tool to get a classroom discussion started. Today’s Mira Look is about a collection of Latin American poems that will no-doubt help your classroom kids learn, explore and discuss not only the different styles of poetry, but the places and themes the authors are presenting. Continue reading

World Wide Web: Chichen Itza: Exploring Ancient Maya culture through math, science and the World Wide Web

When kids (and even some adults) hear the word “Pyramid”, immediately they have visions of The Sphinx and the Three Great Pyramids of Giza in the sand dunes of Egypt.
But do they know that right here in the “New World”, are great structures of another ancient civilization?

What if they could explore the most famous of those pyramids; calculate time and math like the civilization that constructed these pyramids? With the help of NASA, Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum and other donors, your classroom kids can experience the beauty, mystery and greatness of the Pyramid of Kukulkán (Sp.: El Castillo, En.: The Castle) and El Caracol (En.: The Observatory), pyramids of the Ancient Maya.

Continue reading

Book Review: Krik? Krak!

"Krik? Krak!," written by Edwidge Danticat.There is no question that Krik? Krak!’s short stories are gritty.  Danticat doesn’t hold back any punches as she gives us a glimpse into the reality of Haitian life through the nine short stories included here.  Her prose is both beautiful and simple—it’s part of the genius of her work.  The clarity and subtlety of her writing stands in stark contrast to the heaviness of what her stories share. Rarely can an author translate such depths of emotion and paint such lasting images, much less in the span of a short story, as Danticat does.

The power of these stories is found in their examination of the lives of ordinary Haitians trying to survive the brutality of both of the Duvalier regimes.  Taking place in Port au Prince, the fictional Ville Rose, and New York City, the majority of her stories focus on the lives of individual women. They force us to acknowledge both the plight and the unending strength of these Haitian women. They are a testament both to the survival and the depravity of the human spirit. Poverty, hunger, corruption, and torture are depicted alongside resiliency, faith, dignity, and hope. As we become familiar with Danticat’s characters, moved and pained by the seemingly increasing distance between their hopes and their lived reality, we are forced to realize that it is the actions of other humans that have created such painful experiences.  Not all of Danticat’s characters survive; in fact, many do not.  But what continues to remain is the spirit of hope, the determination to hold on to what it really means to be Haitian, even after one has escaped to the United States. Quite creatively, Danticat weaves a more circular connection among the female characters of her stories, alluding to related lineages.  While there are connections among the stories through references to other characters or events, each story can stand on its own, making it easy for a teacher to pick and choose which stories would be most appropriate for his or her class. Continue reading

¡Mira, Look!: Bless Me, Última Turns Forty in 2012

The UNM English Department’s blog takes note that Rudulfo Anaya’s famous novel, Bless Me, Última, turns forty this year.  They write, too, ” if that’s not enough reason to celebrate, the film version of the novel is scheduled for release in 2012 as well.  Just last month Rudolfo Anaya received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the L.A. Times and among other things, the Times cited his debut novel, Bless Me, Ultima, as “the most widely read and critically acclaimed novel in the Chicano literary canon.”  They will be celebrating Anaya’s work and this  remarkable novel by staging a Reading Marathon on Monday, April 23, 2012.  If you’re in the Albuquerque area, I encourage you to be a part.  Rudolfo Anaya himself will read the final page when the event concludes at 5:00p.m.

I assume there’s little to tell you about Bless Me, Última.  Most of you have probably read it.  But on the off-chance that you haven’t already picked up this novel by Anaya, allow me to urge you now.  In my words: the novel is enchanting, mesmerizing, and inspiring with writing that is at once powerfully blunt and lyrical.  In the words of whoever it is who writes for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) The Big Read program, the novel is “A great book [that] combines enlightenment with enchantment.  It awakens our imagination and enlarges our humanity.  It can even offer harrowing insights that somehow console and comfort us.”  On a more concrete level, it’s a novel about a young boy’s coming-of-age, his internal conflicts over faith and tradition, authority and independence, family and community.

If you haven’t read the novel yet, I encourage you to check it out from your local library and then go back to the NEA’s website, where you’ll find a Readers Guide, Teacher’s Guide, Audio Guide, Films, and information in Spanish. Everything you need (and then some) is there to help you delve deeply into the book.  Or you can do what I did – decide it’s finally time to sit down, grab the book from the shelf, and immerse yourself in silence for a few hours.  Either way, I imagine you won’t regret it.