Thursday, November 6, 2014

We Need Diverse Books

The cool kids over at We Need Diverse Books are running a fundraising campaign on indiegogo. They are planning to use the money raised to fund a variety of initiatives focused on providing kids of all ages greater access to diverse books. The planned projects include developing educational kits, bringing diverse authors to schools and starting a kidlit diversity festival. All of this sounds awesome, and I cannot wait to see what starts to roll out in the coming months. They're offering a bunch of sweet perks too if you need some instant gratification.

If you believe it's important that the books our kids have access to reflect the diversity of our world (and who doesn't), please consider backing this important campaign. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review: Pig Park

I confess. I'm a glutton. This book had me at the cover. That image of a delicious marranito? I can imagine the moist cake-like center, the smell of molasses. I love this cover. I want to eat this cover. 

Between those yummy covers is an equally delicious book. Pig Park (Cinco Puntos Press, 2014) is Claudia Guadalupe Martinez's second novel following her 2011 debut, The Smell of Old Lady Perfume, also published by Cinco Puntos. Masi Burciaga's Chicago neighborhood has become a virtual ghost town since the American Lard Company packed up and moved its business overseas. The lard company was such a central part of the area's economy and livelihood that the neighborhood park got the name Pig Park because of it. When Jorge Peregrino, the one person in the neighborhood who seems to still be doing well for himself, comes to the people of Pig Park with what sounds like a far-out idea to keep the neighborhood alive--building a pyramid that will attract tourist--Masi and her friend jump on board to help. Masi figures even if they can't save the neighborhood she can at least spend her last summer outdoors hanging out with her friends instead of working in the stifling heat of her family's bakery. 

I admit, at first I was like huh? Wait, what's going on here? How is no one skeptical of this pyramid idea? What are you Pig Park people doing?! But everything falls into place as you read your way through Masi's story. As the plan unfolds the reader can't help asking a number of timely and relevant questions. What causes neighborhoods to decline? How can declining neighborhoods be revitalized? What happens to local economies when large companies move overseas? Early in the novel the story of "The Devil and Daniel Webster" is referenced, and the novel tackles that age-old question of how far, how much, what exactly would you do for something that matters to you? The Pig Park residents are faced with two significant issues. How far are they willing to go to save their home, and how important is it to maintain the cultural integrity of their neighborhood?

But it's not all about the struggle to revive a neighborhood. An attractive and mysterious young college student blows into town to help the residents with their revitalization plans, and Masi can't help being drawn to him. On the home front, Masi struggles to understand the growing tension in the relationship between her parents. This storyline ties in nicely with the neighborhood revitalization plot as it also addresses the importance of being able to change and evolve in order to survive.

This would be a great book to tie in with social studies units on neighborhood studies, learning about how outsourcing affects cities, and community activism. I love Claudia's use of simile and especially enjoyed the very detailed scene in which a few of the teens make capirotada. Mmm mmm. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thanks for Playing!

Lesson learned after this first giveaway: ask for email addresses to be left in comments. Ladies who won the posters, please claim them by the end of this coming week (Sunday, August 25). Otherwise, they'll be up for grabs again. Thank you!

I had the young man of the house pick out three names from a bowl this morning. Congratulations to Karina, Stacey and Sally! Please send your email address in a comment, and I'll be in touch. Thanks to everyone who left a comment. I wish I could send a poster to each of you!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fwap! Pura Belpré Poster Giveaway!

Oh lookee! There's the front of the program I neglected to post an image of last time around. Isn't that a beautiful portrait of la Señora Belpré created by Yuyi Morales? This would look amazing in your library, classroom, living room, etc. I have about two, maybe three, extra program / posters to give away. If you're interested in being entered in a drawing leave a comment below. Have a favorite picture book or novel featuring a Latino protagonist? Doing some fun stuff in your classroom or library with Latino children's books? Just want to say howdy? Drop me a comment. Let's see, we'll wrap this up by Wednesday of next week. Cool? Cool.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

2014 Pura Belpré Award Celebración

Dang, blogging is hard work, people! I'm so embarrassed. Posting about an event a month later is a total social media faux pas, I'm sure. By now the ALA Annual Conference and the 2014 Pura Belpré Celebración are but shiny little memories tucked away in my nostalgic heart. They say it's better late than never, right? Is that true? It's still summer though. I have that going for me.

Little tokens for the winners and attendees at the Pura Belpré Celebración. I hope you got yours!

The Celebración was in Caesars Palace! I'm sorry. Totally not professional, but the statues!

This year's program, designed by the winning illustrator, folds out into a poster. Whuuuut? The other side features the program itself and a portrait of Pura Belpré created by Yuyi Morales. 

(L-R) Happiness! Pura Belpré winners Meg Medina, Matt de la Peña, Margarita Engle and Yuyi Morales!

The fantastic José Luis Orozco leading the audience in singing "Cielito Lindo" (and later, "De Colores"). I love everything about the celebración, but singing these songs from my childhood is always so much fun. 

The legend! Oralia Garza de Cortés speaking on the significance of the Pura Belpré Award. I hope I'm not misquoting Oralia, but I love her description of the creation of these awards coming from a place of "grief." 

These ladies make it happen. From left to right: Lucia Gonzalez and Ana-Elba Pavon, Co-Chairs of CAYASC / REFORMA; Isabel Espinal, REFORMA Past President; Starr Latronica, ALSC Past President

L-to-R: Los ganadores! The winners! Meg Medina, Matt de la Peña, Margarita Engle, Yuyi Morales, Rafael Lopez, Angela Dominguez. Duncan Tonatiuh is in there between Yuyi and Rafael. He keeps a low profile. All gave wonderful, touching and inspiring speeches. You can read Meg's and Yuyi's speeches on the ALSC Book & Media Awards page. Really proud of this group of amazing writers and artists.

Dancers from Grupo Infantil del Ballet Folklorico Izel. These kids have moves.

Meg and Yuyi signing after the Belpré celebracion. 2014 Pura Belpré Award Committee member Maria X. Peterson is over on the right lending a hand. Hardest working committee in book award business, folks!

Angela Dominguez exudes a glow in the exhibit hall. Okay, maybe it was the exhibit hall lights shining on the cover of the book combined with my bad photography. Still, angelic as she signs copies of her 2014 Belpré Honor Maria Had A Little Llama / María Tenía Una Llamíta post-award ceremony.

It was an honor to be a part of this year's celebration, and now that I have put this much-delayed post to rest, I think I can move on with my life. Whew!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Selected Resources for Latino Children's and YA Books

I compiled the information below for a guest lecture I'm doing in a YA literature and resources class. This is obviously not an all-inclusive list of resources. I listed some of the articles / news stories that have come out recently that seem to have fueled the momentum in the movement for greater diversity in books for children and young adults. The great thing? There's so much discussion of the topic taking place online these days that it's almost hard to keep up!

Articles / Blogs / Websites





Sunday, June 8, 2014

One Book, One Barrio!

La Casa Azul Bookstore in NYC is hosting the first ever One Book, One Barrio reading campaign! The 2013 Pura Belpré Award honor book The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano has been selected as the first book to be read as part of the campaign.  If you are in the New York City area, there are a number of upcoming events you can attend. If you aren't, how about finding a copy of the book in your local library or independent bookstore and reading it in solidarity? Here's a good opportunity to check on how diverse these resources are in your area and to encourage them to promote and support more diverse offerings. The campaign goes through the fall, so if you're a teacher or librarian perhaps consider a unit, program or book discussion focusing on the book.