Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Magical Realism Abounds in the Lacamara's and Morales' Floating on Mama's Song

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Me, Frida and you need to know about me!

Frida Kahlo is the subject of a new picture book biography by Amy Novesky and David Diaz Me, Frida!. Published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, this book has received very little attention this year and I wanted to make sure that YOU knew about it. Below is my review from REFORMA.

Me, Frida. Amy Novesky. Illus. by David Diaz. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2010. Unpaged. $16.95 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-8109-8969-6. Grades 1-3. English with some Spanish.

A lovely little bird on the arm of an enormous elephant; this is how Frida Kahlo imagines herself when she and her husband, famed artist Diego Rivera, visit San Francisco together for the first time. As Diego’s fame grows as large as the city, Frida struggles to find her place and her voice as an emerging artist. The comparison of Frida’s journey to that of a bird is explored throughout Diaz’s flaming illustrations in the form of a pink bird that travels with the artist from Mexico and throughout San Francisco to eventually find itself one of the subjects in Frida’s important portrait Frieda and Diego Rivera. Novesky’s straightforward text gives readers a glimpse into Frida’s life that can be further explored in more comprehensive titles such as Carmen T. Bernier-Grand’s Frida: Viva La Vida! Long Live Life! (2007). Recommended as an additional purchase.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Belpré Award-Winning Illustrator Rafael López's New Children's Book Blog

Have you ever wondered how an illustrator created those amazing images in your favorite book? What are the various muses behind the beautiful imagery? What types of emotions are intentionally imbued in the illustrations? Rafael Lopez, the award-winning illustrator of the Book Fiesta answers all of these questions and more in his new children's literature blog. Available:

Friday, July 2, 2010

Celebrate Latino Heritage and the World Cup with Monica Brown's Pelé Picture Book

Check out Moncia Brown's Book Trailer for her picture book Pelé: The King of Soccer/El rey del futbol.

Pele, The King of Soccer/El rey del futbol from Monica Brown on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Two New Novels on Cuba: The Red Umbrella and Leaving Glorytown

Recently, two juvenile novels have been published which portray complementary perspectives on the life of children during the first few years of Castro's regime in Cuba. Published in 2009 by FSG, Eduardo F. Calcines' Leaving Glorytown: One Boy's Struggle Under Castro describes the life hardships and horrors brought about by Castro's control in Cienfuegos, Cuba. From the time he is three until just before he turns fifteen, Eduardo watches as family members are killed or tortured and as food becomes more and more scarce. The novel follows the boy's life until he escapes Cuba with his family before he is drafted into the army.

Another novel, The Red Umbrella (Christina Diaz Gonzalez, Knopf, 2010) begins with the carefree life of fourteen-year-old Lucia and her younger brother Frankie and follows the two children as they see their family ripped apart as a result of the corruption and influence of Castro's government. Whereas Eduardo in the previous novel endures many years under Castro's regime, Lucia and her brother are able to escape to America via Operation Pedro Pan. Unfortunately, the children must leave their parents behind in Puerto Mijares and go to live with two complete strangers in the cornfields of Nebraska. Gonzalez does a good job depicting the anguish of leaving one's roots and adopting an entirely new culture. The crumbling of the Old Cuba is made clear through the letters Lucia receives from her family and her best friend. Lucia watches her friend go from a strong headed girl interested primarily in the latest fashion to a conditioned trainer for the Revolution.
Together, these two novels provide contemporary children with a glimpse into the lives of their counterparts during the early years of communist Cuba. Both are recommended for grades 5 and up.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tortilla Sun: A great NEW Latino children's book for middle elementary

Tortilla Sun. Jennifer Cervantes. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 2010. 224 pp. $16.99 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-8118-7015-3. Grades 3-6. English with some Spanish.

Twelve-year-old Izzy is not happy when her mother ships her off to her Nana’s rural village in New Mexico for the summer while she pursues her doctoral studies in Costa Rica. Having moved from place to place most of her life, Izzy just wants to spend her summer at her newest home in San Diego and plant roots. What she doesn't know is that her real roots are actually in her Nana’s village along with answers to her million questions about her dad who died just before Izzy was born. Filled with magic, memorable characters, good home-cooking, a little romance, and a cat who thinks she’s a dog, this is one summer cuento that middle elementary children will not want to miss. The particular strength of this book is its appeal to children in grades 3-6 as there are very few fiction titles about Latinos for this age group outside Gary Soto’s books. Suffused with magical realism and the sabor of the Mexican American culture, the book also includes a recipe for making your own tortilla sun. Recommended.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Noche de Cuentos: Family Literacy Event Grants!

Noche de Cuentos (Night of Stories) is a new family literacy program celebrating the power of story in the lives of Latinos, immigrants, and all families. It is sponsored by REFORMA and the American Library Association. Libraries can submit a mini-grant application to receive funds to host their own Noche de Cuentos event. More information is available at: The image at the right is the free poster that can be downloaded (from the website) by libraries, schools, and literacy organizations wanting to host their own Noche de Cuentos event. Latina author/illustrator Yuyi Morales provided the image (an illustration from My Abuelita, 2009, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) for the poster.

Registration Now OPEN: National Latino Children's Literature Conference - April 2010

Registration for the 2010 National Latino Children's Literature Conference is now open and the call for program and poster proposals has been extended until February 26, 2010. For more information about this exciting event, visit the conference website: .