Category Archives: books
Today I’m honored to share a guest post from children’s author and Salvadoran, René Colato Laínez, as part of a “blog hop” and giveaway by Latinas for Latino Literature (L4LL).
Twenty Latino/a authors and illustrators plus 20 Latina bloggers, (well, 19 Latina bloggers and this gringa), have joined up with L4LL for this event. From April 10th to April 30th a different Latino/a author/illustrator will be hosted on a different blog. (Click here for all the posts!) Today you can read René’s touching article right here on Latinaish.com and then see the details to enter the giveaway below.
Without further ado, I present, René Colato Laínez.
Finding My Heroes
by René Colato Laínez
I learned to read and write in El Salvador. As a child, I loved to read the comic books of my heroes: El Chavo del ocho, El Chapulin Colorado, Mafalda, Cri Cri, and Topo Gigo. My favorite book was Don Quijote de La Mancha.
When I arrived to the United States, I tried to find these heroes in the school library or in my reading books, but I didn’t have any luck. I asked myself, are my heroes only important in Spanish? I knew that the children from Latin America knew about my heroes but the rest of the children and my teachers did not have any clue.
One day, I was writing about my super hero and my teacher asked me, who is this CHA-PO-WHAT? COLORADO and then, she suggested, “It would be better for you to write about Superman or Batman.” On another occasion, a teacher crossed out with her red pen all the instances of “Ratón Pérez” in my essay and told me, “A mouse collecting teeth! What a crazy idea! You need to write about the Tooth Fairy.”
I started to read and enjoy other books but I missed my heroes. In my senior year of high school, my English teacher said that our next reading book would be The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. I will never forget that day when I was holding the book. It was written by a Latina writer and I could relate to everything that she was describing in the book. The House On Mango Street became my favorite book. I said to myself, “Yes, we are also important in English.”
I write multicultural children books because I want to tell all my readers that our Latino voices are important, too, and that they deserve to be heard all over the world.
My goal as a writer is to produce good multicultural children’s literature; stories where minority children are portrayed in a positive way, where they can see themselves as heroes, and where they can dream and have hope for the future. I want to write authentic stories of Latin American children living in the United States.
My new book is Juguemos al Fútbol/ Let’s Play Football (Santillana USA). This is a summary of the book: Carlos is not sure that football can be played with an oval-shaped ball. Chris is not sure that it can be played with a round ball. It may not be a good idea to play with a kid who is so different… He doesn’t even know how to play this game! Wait. It looks kind of fun… Let’s give it a try! Enjoy and celebrate the coming together of two cultures through their favorite sports.
To conclude, I want to share this letter in English and Spanish. Everyone, let’s read!
When I was a child, my favorite place in the house was a corner where I always found a rocking chair. I rocked myself back and forth while I read a book. Soon the rocking chair became a magic flying carpet that took me to many different places. I met new friends. I lived great adventures. In many occasions, I was able to touch the stars. All the books I read transported me to the entire universe.
Books inspired me! I also wanted to write about the wonderful world that I visited in my readings. I started to write my own stories, poems and adventures in my diary. Every time I read and revised my stories, I found new adventures to tell about. Now, I write children’s books and it is an honor to share my books with children around the world.
I invite you to travel with me. Pick up a book and you will find wonders. Books are full of adventures, friends and fantastic places. Read and reach for the stars.
René Colato Laínez
Cuando era niño, el lugar favorito de mi casa era una esquina donde estaba una mecedora. Me mecía de adelante hacia atrás mientras leía un libro. Enseguida la mecedora se convertía en una alfombra mágica y volaba por el cielo. Conocía a nuevos amigos. Vivía nuevas aventuras. En muchas ocasiones, hasta llegaba a tocar las estrellas. Los libros que leía, me podían llevar a cualquier parte del universo.
¡Los libros me inspiraban tanto! Yo también quería escribir sobre ese mundo maravilloso que visitaba. Así que comencé a escribir mis cuentos, poemas y aventuras en un diario. Cada vez que releía y volvía a escribir un cuento, este se llenaba de nuevas grandes aventuras. Hoy en día escribo libros para niños y es un honor compartirlos con muchos niños alrededor del mundo.
Los invito a viajar conmigo. Tomen un libro y descubrirán maravillas. Los libros están llenos de aventuras, amigos, y lugares hermosos. Lean y toquen las estrellas.
René Colato Laínez
L4LL has put together a wonderful collection of Latino children’s literature to be given to a school or public library. Many of the books were donated by the authors and illustrators participating in this blog hop. You can read a complete list of titles here on the L4LL website.
To enter your school library or local library in the giveaway, simply leave a comment below.
The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Monday, April 29th, 2013. The winner will be chosen using Random.org and announced on the L4LL website on April 30th, Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros, and will be contacted via email – so be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment! (If we have no way to contact you, we’ll have to choose someone else!)
By entering this giveaway, you agree to the Official Sweepstakes Rules. No purchase required. Void where prohibited.
Piedad “Piddy” Sanchez doesn’t sit at the “Latino lunch table” in her new school’s cafeteria. With her light skin, good grades, and lack of an accent, the girls at the “Latino” table don’t consider her Latina enough. To make things worse, her body has apparently begun to develop and boys are taking notice. Piddy is accused of “shaking her stuff” when she walks, and Yaqui Delgado, a girl with a reputation and a criminal record, lets it be known that she, along with her gang of friends, are going to kick Piddy’s ass.
If this were Piddy’s only problem, life would be difficult enough, but Piddy is dealing with a lot more than that; a father she’s never met, her best friend moving away, juggling a part-time job with her mother’s impossible expectations – all while trying to figure out that inevitable coming-of-age question, “Who am I?”
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina is a YA (Young Adult) novel that took me, (as a 30-something year old), right back to the insecure days of the high school hallway. I read this book in one sitting and loved it – If I had a teenage daughter, I would be putting it into her hands right now. (I have a teenage son and I’ll try to convince him to read it, but it seems boys never want to read books with a female protagonist.)
Piddy’s voice feels authentic; her situation and the challenges she faces are ones a lot of teenage girls, (Latina and otherwise), are going to relate to. The diverse cast of characters are equally complex and real. These are the kinds of Latino/a characters we need more of, in YA literature especially.
One word of caution – Piddy is 15 years old, going on 16. There are some mature themes and I would recommend this book for girls no younger than 13 years old.
Want to read this book? Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina comes out March 2013 – Until then, you can enter the giveaway below!
—THIS GIVEAWAY HAS CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO “SQUEEZE”—
Prize description: One lucky winner will receive a copy of the book, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina.
Approximate value: $11.00
How to Enter:
Just leave a comment below telling me why you want to read this book, or why you want to win it for someone else. (Please read official rules below.)
Official Rules: No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be able to provide a U.S. address for prize shipment. Your name and address will only be shared with the company in charge of prize fulfillment. Please no P.O. Boxes. One entry per household. Make sure that you enter a valid E-mail address in the E-mail address field so you can be contacted if you win. Winner will be selected at random. Winner has 48 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between January 29th, 2013 through February 12th, 2013. Entries received after February 12th, 2013 at 11:59 pm EST, will not be considered. Realize that the prize can not be shipped until the publish date in late March 2013. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. If you win, by accepting the prize, you are agreeing that Latinaish.com assumes no liability for damages of any kind. By entering your name below you are agreeing to these Official Rules. Void where prohibited by law.
Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored post. I received an advance reading copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions are my own.
In response to the New York Times article regarding the lack of Latino authors and books for children, Latina bloggers have launched the “Latinas for Latino Literature” campaign which works to identify the problems in today’s publishing world that contribute to this lack of diversity so that we can provide ideas for changing the situation to the benefit of not only Latino readers and writers, but to the benefit of the industry itself as they tap into this growing demographic. Look out for forthcoming Google hangouts, Twitter parties, and follow-up posts as this coordinated effort to bring quality books to an emerging group of readers continues.
I kneeled on the coarse, crimson carpet at the library, the third library I had visited that week, trying to find something, anything, on the shelves about El Salvador – the native country of my new husband. I often left libraries and bookstores defeated, with a stack of novels about Mexico, Mexicans, migrant workers – stories that I ended up loving, and still love – but what I really wanted was a book with Salvadoran characters, and I couldn’t find any. Any book I did manage to find about El Salvador would be non-fiction, and usually about the civil war.
When I became a mother of two boys, two Salvadoran-American boys, I wanted desperately to buy them books and read them stories with characters they could relate to. Again, visits to the library and bookstore turned up books featuring Mexican and Mexican-American characters, when we were lucky.
These days, the library selection has gotten better, and the online selection is a dream come true compared to what I faced when my boys were younger. I’ve read books about Cubans and Puerto Ricans, Argentinians, Venezuelans, Guatemalans and Paraguayans, and thanks to Sandra Benitez, an amazing book called “Bitter Grounds” with a diverse Salvadoran cast. I stayed up late turning the pages, almost not believing that after so many years, I was finally reading a book with Salvadoran characters.
Why am I writing this? – Because I want the publishing industry to know that I am here – an avid reader, hungry for these books for myself, for my husband, for our boys, and for the children out there whose parents won’t go to the trouble I’ve gone to – the children who are at the mercy of whatever their school librarian decides to put on the shelves.
I want it to be known that I hunger for even more diversity, for Latin American characters and characters of Latin American descent from all walks of life. Don’t stop telling the story of the migrant worker, the immigrant, of Mexicans – but let us hear other voices too. We want to hear from characters who are rich, who are poor, and everything in between. We want characters who are white collar workers, and blue collar workers. We want characters who are beautiful, ugly, inspirational, relatable, flawed, ordinary, outrageous, wise, hilarious, serious, complex – in other words, we want all the diversity of voices that are available in the general market. Please, keep seeking out fresh authors and publishing their stories – We are here waiting for them, (and in some cases, some of us are here writing them, too.)
Do you feel there’s enough diversity in the books commonly available in bookstores and libraries? Which Latino/a author or book most influenced you and why?
Chécalo: Other “Latinas for Latino Literature“
Mi hijo mayor está tomando clases de español. A veces su libro de texto de esta clase me recuerda el libro de texto que yo utilize cuándo tomé clases de español, pero en unas maneras es mucho mejor. Por ejemplo, no recuerdo aprender nada de El Salvador en mi libro de texto, pero el libro de texto de mi hijo es más diverso – La semana pasada me enseño esta página que habla sobre El Salvador y las pupusas!
Mi hijo estaba super orgulloso cuándo sus compañeros tuvieron que aprender sobre su cultura.
My older son is taking Spanish classes. Sometimes his textbook fro the class reminds me of the textbook I used when I took Spanish classes, but in many ways, his is better. For example, I don’t remember learning anything about El Salvador in my textbook, but my son’s textbook is more diverse – This past week my son showed me a page that talks about El Salvador and pupusas! My son was super proud when his classmates had to learn about his culture.
Image source/Copyright: ¡Avancemos! Level 1 – McDougall Littell
Book description: KUSIKIY A CHILD FROM TAQUILE, PERU, by author and illustrator Mercedes Cecilia is a unique story that draws us into the kaleidoscopic and mysterious world of a Peruvian child. KUSIKIY lives in The Andes Mountains of Peru in a small island in Lake Titikaka. In this wise and peaceful community Kusikiy’s father cultivates potatoes and Quinoa; his mother, like her mother and grandmother, weaves intricate traditional designs into her textiles keeping a record of important events. Children will identify with Kusikiy’s love for family and his concerns for the effects of climate changes on Mother Earth, as well as with his desire to be of help to his town. This is a book that gives parents and educators a visual and appealing way to engage children in a dialogue about traditional cultures, the meaning of community, sustainability and caring for our environment.
“Taquile is a peaceful island. It is so quiet that you can hear the potatoes growing under the eath and the voices of mothers whispering Quechua songs to the babies on their backs.” – Kusikiy by Mercedes Cecilia
That is just a taste of the beautiful language found in this book, and here is a sample of the equally beautiful art, also created by the author.
If you’re interested in purchasing your own copy, the author is offering something special to readers of Latinaish.com. From now until December 20th, 2011, you can E-mail the author directly and let her know you’re a reader of Latiniash.com for free shipping and environmentally friendly gift wrapping.
For more information on the book and author, visit Kusikiy.com.
Disclosure: A copy of this book was provided to Latinaish.com for review. All opinions are my own.
My husband came to the United States from El Salvador, so you really don’t have to sell me on the idea of immigrants being admirable people that we can learn a lot from. That being said, The Immigrant Advantage by Claudia Kolker, is an excellent read – whether you need convincing or not.
You see, you may not realize it, but it’s something of an American tradition to pick and choose the best of all cultures and make it our own. This is a phenomenon the author talks about, and encourages, in The Immigrant Advantage. My favorite example that the author sited was this:
“In the mid-nineteenth century, an American cowboy in Colorado so admired the Mexican vaqueros’ wide-brimmed hats that he paid Stetson to craft one for him. The Mexicans deemed his knockoff tan galan, “so gallant,” a label that evolved into the “ten gallon” hat.” – The Immigrant Advantage / Claudia Kolker
The subtitle of the book is, “What We Can Learn from Newcomers to America about Health, Happiness, and Hope” and within the pages, Kolker gives us solid examples we can apply to our own lives. From Vietnamese money saving clubs, (also known as “tandas” in some Latin American countries), to Mexican “cuarentenas” – (a 40 day rest for new mothers), Kolker explores the most beneficial customs of immigrants from around the world that are still practiced in communities right here in the United States.
As Kolker explains, studies have shown that immigrants, “even those from poor, violent lands, who live hard lives in the United States, tend to be physically and mentally healthier than the rest of us.” What are they doing differently? — This book attempts to find the answer and succeeds in providing real, useful examples to take with you long after you’ve turned the last page.
Got a question for the author? Feel free to ask it in comments as she’ll be by to answer you!
About the author: Claudia Kolker has reported extensively from Mexico and Central America, as well as the Caribbean, Japan, India and Pakistan. A former Los Angeles Times bureau chief and member of the Houston Chronicle editorial board, she has also written for The Economist, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, O: The Oprah Magazine, Slate, and Salon. She lives in Houston with her family. For The Immigrant Advantage, Kolker visited Korean and Chinese afterschools, West Indian multigenerational households in New Jersey, and Chicago’s “Little Village,” among others.
About the book: The Immigrant Advantage is a fascinating look into the lives of immigrant enclaves in the United States that we so seldom gain access to, and an inspiring exploration about how these customs can enrich our own lives. You may purchase a copy of this book at Amazon.com.
Follow The Immigrant Advantage book tour at these other blogs!
October 24, 2011: Juan of Words
October 25, 2011: Voto Latino
October 26, 2011: Spanglish Baby
October 27, 2011: Latinaish
October 28, 2011: TikiTiki Blog
November 1, 2011: Chicano Soul
November 2, 2011: Motherhood in Mexico
November 3, 2011: Atzlan Reads
November 4, 2011: Multicultural Familia
Disclosure: This book was received for review purposes. All opinions are my own.
I saw a news story years ago about the use of donkeys in some Latin American countries to bring books to remote mountain villages which are difficult to reach by vehicle. The stories of the “Biblioburros” (library donkeys) has always been one of my favorites.
Now the story of the original “Biblioburro” is coming to PBS on July 19th.
“Biblioburro” is the story of a librarian — and a library — like no other. A decade ago, Colombian teacher Luis Soriano was inspired to spend his weekends bringing a modest collection of precious books, via two hard-working donkeys, to the children of a poor and violence-ridden province. As Soriano braves armed bands, drug traffickers, snakes and heat, his library on hooves carries an inspirational message about education and a better future for Colombia. His efforts have attracted worldwide attention — and imitators — but his story has never been better told than in this heartwarming yet unsentimental film.
It’s people like this that make the world an amazing place.
Put in on your calendar so you don’t forget to tune in: Tuesday, July 19, 2011, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET
Reading a book called “The Hacienda: My Venezuelan Years,” and though I don’t think it’s intended to be a comedic book at all, this part made me laugh, perhaps because it’s vaguely familiar.
“He said he would die if I didn’t marry him. He said it was my destiny. I was sixteen and I didn’t know then that it was an old cliché, as though, somewhere, there is a little latino lexicon of courtship which is learnt by heart in adolescence and then regurgitated to girl after girl.”
- Lisa St. Aubin de Teran
What have you been reading? Which literary quote made you stop to think or laugh lately?
House Divided is the second book in a trilogy by Raul Ramos y Sanchez. If you didn’t read the first book, America Libre, start there.
The story takes place in a fictional future where civil war has broken out between American Latinos and the U.S. government. Manolo Suarez, a third generation Mexican American who barely speaks Spanish, is just one of many Latinos who has been forced into ghettos across the country.
When this series first came out, the plot seemed realistic and yet far-fetched at the same time. In today’s anti-immigrant atmosphere, these books will definitely give you chills.
America Libre, (the first book), I really loved – so I was eager to read this second book. Honestly, for the first half of House Divided, I felt lost at times with the military talk. As the story line became more about the logistics of the war than about the relationships between the characters, I became a little anxious for something to pull at my heart strings. I know these chapters would play out awesomely on the big screen as a film, but war novels aren’t really my thing.
Thankfully, in the second half of the book, a compelling page turning plot twist is introduced involving Manolo’s teenage son and a gringa, which grabbed my attention and really appealed to me on an emotional level.
Over all, I ended up liking the book enough that I look forward to the third book, Pancho Land.
Disclosure: This book was provided to me for review purposes. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received for this review.
Here are the most chévere things I discovered in 2010.
• My go-to drink used to be the Shirley Temple, but after drinking about a dozen virgin Mojitos in Miami, I have a new favorite.
• As for “real” drinks, Tecate & Corona are still numero uno for me.
• My cipote-friendly choice is still horchata (Salvadoran, not Mexican.)
• Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez
•The Madonnas of Echo Park by Brando Skyhorse
• My Name is Pablo by Aimee Sommerfelt
(Non-Latino Fiction picks):
• Nectar in a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya
• The Hunger Games (series) by Suzanne Collins
• The Help by Kathryn Stockett
• The Other Side of Immigration (documentary)
• The Karate Kid (Jackie Chan)
(Really too many to mention, but these are the first three that came to mind)…
(I like this video of Espinoza performing on Mun2, because it looks like the host, Yarel, has a crush on him as much as I do.)
I considered listing favorite blogs, but you can already check those out on the Link Love page, (and there’s no güey I’m choosing only three!) …That being said, I want to thank all of you who visit me here at Latinaish.com.
The very best thing about 2010 is the community I’m blessed to be a part of and all the people around the world that I consider amigos para siempre. Gracias por tu amistad – it has more value to me than an entire box of Bubu Lubus.
How about you? What do you consider lo mejor de 2010?