Author Sonia Sotomayor, Authors, Books, Latina writer, Latino family tradition, Latino Literature

Books for Christmas ?!

I’m that tia (aunt) who often gives books for Christmas and birthdays.  My nieces and nephews have lots of toys, too many clothes, and not enough trips to the library.My mom also gives books in addition to clothes and/or a toy.

I must say though that my nieces and nephews reactions haven’t been as forceful as the kid in the YouTube above, ‘pooh-poohing’ his way across the Christmas tree and the Wii set.

The kids might ‘pooh-pooh’ me in their mind, but my family wouldn’t dare giggle or they’d hear a few choice words in Spanish fly out of my mom’s mouth (the equivalent of ‘unappreciative brat’).

This year the tradition continues. Before Black Friday and Cyber Monday arrives think about giving some books to your family and friends, whether a child or an adult.

Today’s list is from a site that encourages reading about the Latino culture. The Best 2014 New Latino Authors was compiled by Jose B. Gonzalez, Ph.D., writer, poet, editor and John S. Christie, Ph.D., the author of Latino Fiction and the Modernist Imagination. Their website has tons of recommendations for adults and children, from  2006-2013.  (I apologize that the photos may not appear, however the links to the books are fine).

 The first list is for adults or older teenagers. The list below this one is from Flavorwire and are books for children. 

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My Beloved World

Sonia Sotomayor

1) This author needs no introduction. In her memoir, My Beloved World, the ever-inspirational Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor provides readers with powerful insight on the role that hard work and determination played in the early parts of her life as she forged a path to law school from housing projects in the Bronx to Princeton University, Yale Law School, and to the highest court in the nation.
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Reboot

Amy Tintera

2) If you enjoyed The Hunger Games, there is no doubt that you will absolutely love Amy Tintera’s Reboot. Not surprisingly, the film rights to this thrilling sci-fi novel have already been sold.  This is an author who knows how to push the limits of imagination and write young adult works that will leave everyone begging for sequels.
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Flowers In The Dust

Myriam Alvarez

3) In Flowers in the Dust, Miriam Alvarez tells an intriguing tale based on her grandmother’s life. This work of historical fiction paints a poignant picture of South America around the mid-1900s, and is a touching portrait of a woman whose devotion to family is inspirational. 
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Mario Alberto Zambrano

4) Mario Alberto Zambrano brilliantly weaves together a plot that that flows smoothly as it unravels like the popular game and novel’s namesake, Loteria. And just like the game, the story is unpredictable and full of twists. 
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The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano

Sonia Manzano

5) Sonia Manzano, author of The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, has shown us that she has acting talent, having played Maria on Sesame Street since 1971.  And now through this novel, she shows off her writing skills.  Set in the 1960s East Harlem, this story is both gritty and witty as it revisits a time of the Young Lords, rebellion, and youth.
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Speaking Wiri Wiri

Dan Vera

6) In Speaking Wiri Wiri, winner of the inaugural edition of the Letras Latinas/Red Hen Poetry Prize, Dan Vera shows us why he is earning a reputation as a talented, sophisticated poet who is a master at playing with words. This collection, his second book of poetry, is a dazzling display of language and emotion.
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The Bolero of Andi Rowe

Toni Margarita Plummer

7) In the short story collection, The Bolero of Andi Rowe, Toni Margarita Plummer reminds us that this genre is alive and well.  She is a master of subtle suspense—the kind that creates tension waiting to explode until the final twist.
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The Sandoval Sisters’ Secret of Old …

Sandra Ramos O’Brien

8)  Sandra Ramos O’Briant’s The Sandoval Sisters’ Secret of Old Blood is a page-turning work of historical fiction with drama that multiplies over and over, in a style that will make it difficult to put this novel down.
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Laurie Ann Guerrero

9) Winner of the prestigious Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize, Laurie Ann Guerrero’s A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying is a poetry collection with images that are both haunting and fascinating.  Guerrero illustrates that she is part poet and part storyteller.
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The Mares of Lenin Park

Agustin D. Martinez

10)  Agustin D. Martinez, author of The Mares of Lenin Park, created quite the buzz in 2013.  His debut novel is part of an impressive line of works that tell the sometimes complex but compelling stories of Cubans during the revolution.

Flavorwire compiled a list of a few great children’s books with diverse characters and stories. These are classics, beautifully written and artistically pleasing.

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Tar Beach, Faith Ringgold

In this gorgeous book — a work of quilted art with story woven in — a little girl dream-soars above 1939 Harlem, looking down at the eponymous tar beach of her family’s roof. Evidence that imagination can overcome most anything.

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Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things, Lenore Look and LeUyen Pham

Second-grader Alvin Ho is scared of everything — especially school, which frightens him so much he can’t say a word. Adorable and immensely relatable, everyone will fall in love with Alvin as he worries over his descent from “farmer-warriors who haven’t had a scaredy bone in their bodies since 714 AD” and takes pride in his “gentleman in training” status.

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The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses, Paul Goble

Goble’s Caldecott-winning 1978 story of a Native American girl swept up in a stampede is a masterpiece, surely one of the most beautiful children’s books of all time. For every little girl who has ever felt a deep connection to horses. You probably know some little girls like that.

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Inside Out and Back Again, Thanhha Lai

The Vietnamese-American writer Thanha Lai’s debut novel, which won the National Book Award in 2011, tells the tale of Hà, a ten-year-old girl who flees to Alabama with her family during the fall of Saigon. The language is beautiful and the story, based on the author’s own experiences, is quite touching.

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Esperanza Rising, Pam Munoz Ryan

This chapter book follows 13-year-old Esperanza as her wealthy family loses everything during the Great Depression. She and her mother are forced to flee their fancy ranch in Mexico to California to work on a farm. Esperanza must remake herself in this new, physically and mentally demanding world — but after all, “esperanza” means “hope.”

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Bud, Not Buddy, Christopher Paul Curtis

“It’s funny how ideas are, in a lot of ways they’re just like seeds,” muses ten-year-old Bud-not-Buddy, on the lam from a foster home to find his father in 1930s Michigan. “Both of them start real, real small and then… woop, zoop, sloop… before you can say Jack Robinson, they’ve gone and grown a lot bigger than you ever thought they could.” A delightful modern classic and the winner of the 2000 Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award.

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Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China, Ed Young

Some stories, like the Red Riding Hood tale, strike so close to the human heart that they re-pattern themselves across cultures and countries — if perhaps wearing different cloaks. This beautifully illustrated, immensely powerful book — dedicated “To all the wolves of the world for lending their good name as a tangible symbol for our darkness” — is the version your literary editor grew up with.

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My Name is Maria Isabel, Alma Flor Ada

María Isabel Salazar López is the new girl in school, and her teacher insists on calling her Mary. How can María make her see that her name — her proper name — means everything to her? A sweet story about heritage and standing up for yourself.

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The Composition, Antonio Skarmeta and Alfonso Ruano

The winner of the Americas Award for Children’s Literature and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, this picture book follows two young boys in a village in Chile after one of their fathers is arrested and the agents of the dictatorship try to turn children against parents. Serious, edgy, and brilliant.

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The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats

But of course. Keats’s beloved Caldecott Medal-winning book, published in 1962, made history for being the first full-color picture book to feature an African-American protagonist. Add to that the beautiful collage-style illustrations and Peter’s charming, understated adventure, and you have an all-time classic that never seems to age.

Next post will be a list for Middle Grade and YA. Happy reading and have fun choosing some memorable books.

Latino Literature, poetry, Writing

Flor Y Canto: The Flower and the Song

Floricanto by Alurista
Floricanto by Alurista

I’ve had ambivalent thoughts on any “heritage” month, mostly because I feel we should appreciate everyone’s heritage at every opportunity. On the other hand, by designating a ‘month’ there is a concentrated focus on a culture which does raise awareness of other heritages.

The photo above symbolizes the Aztec ( in the Nahuatl language) word for  “Poetry” in xochitl in cuicatl  which is a dual term meaning the flower (flor) and the song (canto). I read this book of 100 poems in college. That was my first introduction to poetry which resonated with my dual culture and language as a second generation American of Mexican descent.

So it is in the spirit of awareness, and increasing one’s knowledge of and appreciation for the written word, that I reblog this from Andrea Beltran, poet:

Today’s the last day of National Hispanic Heritage Month, but why let it stop there?

Lots of goodness over at The Poetry Foundation. There’s a sampler of Latin@ writers as well as links to articles, audio/video, and events in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Read the August 2013 issue of The Acentos Review

Follow a new blog: Letras Latinas. They never let me down.

A poetry pairing at The New York Times features Alberto Rios’ poem “A Small Story about the Sky”

Ruben Quesada is giving away a digital copy of his poetry collection Next Extinct Mammal on Twitter. Send him a message at @rubenquesada on Twitter.

A poem by Eduardo C. Corral: “Cayucos

Daniel Olivas (@olivasdan) shared this link to a recommended reading list by age group: Florida Department of Education’s Hispanic Heritage Month reading list

Julia Alvarez talks about writing, reading, and the power of women

The Rane Arroyo Chapbook Prize deadline has been extended through October 31st. Read more about Rane Arroyo

In memory of José Montoya, a video of his reading “El Louie

An appreciation for Oscar Hijuelos at The Los Angeles Times

I hope you enjoy these poems today and anytime of the year.

Book Review, Books, Justin Torres, Latino Literature, Sandra Ramos O'Briant, Strong Women, Summer Reads 2013, The Sandoval Sisters' Secret of Old Blood, We The Animals

Two Must Read Books

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Mild heat and sunshine warmed my neck of the Oxnard Plains for a whole five days. So warm (76-80 degrees) we could actually visit our beautiful beaches and plunge into the 65 degree Pacific Ocean. 

I know, we’re weather spoiled rotten here on the Southern California coast.

But the June gloom had its pluses. Cold weather thick with a marine layer is a reading opportunity waiting to happen. I must confess I sat in a comfy chair and read two books in 8 evenings instead of taking a walk. 

My reading tastes lean towards contemporary fiction, historical fiction, memoirs and crime thrillers. When the characters are of other cultures, set in exotic locales, and have a smattering of humor, other languages, and interesting protagonists, the book is usually placed on my “To Be Read,” list.

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Wait, there is one more ‘test.’ The opening page has to grab my interest and make me want to read the paragraph, and the next few. 

Although my summer reading list of Latina/o books shortened by two, the stack on my end table and Kindle has risen by three other non-Latina/o writers.  

But on to a short review on my recent reads: 

1. THE SANDOVAL SISTERS’…

The first few lines passed the ‘test,’: 

“All that praying and what does Teresa leave me? Daughters!” Estevan had no time for Alma and Pilar and left them completely in my hands.

The setting is before and during the Mexican-American war of 1848, in Sante Fe, New Mexico. It’s a family saga of arranged marriages, a runaway bride, secrets, witchcraft, and loyalty.

Ancient journals are a central focus for the Sandovals. These diaries hold the family genealogy, along with the family secrets, escapades, land grants, murders, and recipes that range from food, to love potions, and revenge. 

The three sisters depend on each other during this turbulent time, imbued in the politics of  war, class, and country. They grow into strong assertive women despite their father. 

Historical fiction has to incorporate the time period, and the author does this very well. We hear about the wagons coming through to homestead, the Spanish landowner’s hacienda’s, kidnapping of the indigenous people, slavery, and the daily life of the people in the late 1800’s.

What I didn’t embrace, as much as the first three quarters of the book was the story of Monique, after her rescue. 

The last chapter implies there will be a sequel to the book. (In fact, after “The End,” my Kindle has a first chapter titled “First, We Were O’Reillys.”) The sisters are in their early twenties to thirty years of age by the final chapter, so there is plenty of material for a series about the Sandoval Sisters. 

2. WE THE ANIMALS by Justin Torres

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This is a highly celebrated, awarded and reviewed book, first published in Sept. 2012. It’s a short book, 125 pages, and fast paced.

The first few lines of the novel seemed innocuous but then they built up into a crescendo of emotion. As a reader I had a good picture of who these boys were and I wanted to know where they were going or had gone. 

We wanted more. We knocked the butt ends of our forks against the table, tapped our spoons against our empty bowls; we were hungry. We wanted more volume, more riots. We turned up the knob on the TV until our ears ached with the shouts of angry men…We were six snatching hands, six stomping feet; we were brothers, boys, three little kings locked in a feud for more.


How did that feel to you? I could see their faces, fists, and fury. The story fully characterized each brother, ages 6, 8, and 10. Heartbreaking, tumultuous times interspersed with funny or tender moments marked most chapters. Sometimes you wanted to put down the book, just for a breather, only to find your place again and keep reading. 

The novel is a coming of age story voraciously told by the youngest brother, the author. His parents rage, fume, drink, and are all together depressing, but human. 

With it’s tenacious prose and pace, the novel reminded me of Jack Kerouac and Junot Diaz. Maybe they were Justin Torres’ older brothers in another life. The book is that great.

If you haven’t made time for reading, get to it. Take a summer trip that only a good book can give to you. 









   

Books, Latina writer, Latino children summer reading list, Latino culture, Latino Literature, Literacy, Summer Reads 2013

Summer Reading-Latino Lit Lista

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The summer solstice is on the horizon and with it the long summer days. Aromas of grilled corn, the juicy taste of fruit popsicles, lounging at the beach or backyard, and a good book have me anticipating the weeks ahead.

The annual “summer reading list,” has been a feature in many magazines, from Latina to Cosmo and Oprah. These books are usually quick read paperbacks that are about ‘lighter’ topics. And they’re all good lists, however I offer you one more:

The 2012-2013 award winning books written by Latina/o authors.

Whether you are Latina/o or not, think about using this lista as an opportunity to explore different themes in the Latina/o experience, discover multi-cultural characters, and peek into other worlds that may be dissimilar to your own, but resonant with universal themes important to all of us.

This list ranges from adventure to suspense:
  1. MISSING IN MACHU PICCHU-Cecilia Velastegui’s. Action/Romance “…four thirty-something professional women embark on (a) hike to help them confront their online dating dependency, only to find themselves victims of a predator’s ruse, and soon in a fight for their very lives.”

  2. THE LOST-Caridad Piñero. Action/Paranormal Romance. “Home from combat in Iraq, Bobbie Carerra wants only peace, (she finds herself) in a terrifying battle against paranormal enemies who hide in plain sight.”
  3. DESPERADO-A MILE HIGH NOIR-Manuel Ramos. Crime novel. “Money, sex and greed…theft of the sacred tilma of our Lady of Guadalupe and drug cartels…”
  4. THE SANDOVAL SISTERS’ SECRET OF OLD BLOODSandra Ramos O’Briant. Historical fiction set in 1800’s.…sisters are caught in the crosshairs…of the Mexican-American War…from two important fronts-New Mexico and Texas. Their money and ancient knowledge offer some protection, but their lives are changed forever.”
  5. THE OLD MAN’S LOVE STORY-Rudolfo Anaya. Fiction. “The nameless narrator…shares his most intimate thoughts about his wife, their life together, and her death. But just as death is inseparable from life, his wife seems still to be with him. Her memory and words permeate his days.”

  6. THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US-Memoir. Reyna Grande. “… a story of a childhood spent torn between two parents and two countries.”
  7. WE THE ANIMALS-Justin Torres. Memoir. “… the chaotic heart of one family, the intense bonds of three brothers, and the mythic effects of this fierce love on the people we must become.”
  8. EVERY LAST SECRET-Mystery. Linda Rodriguez. “…police chief Skeet Bannion(finds herself in a race) against the clock to solve a series of linked murders… before her best friend winds up in jail—or worse.”
  9. HOW FIRE IS A STORY, WAITING-Melinda Palacio. Poetry. “… (she) creates images that are at once heartbreaking and humorous….elemental subjects of family and childhood…and celebrates the women who came before her.
  10. THE SECOND TIME WE MET-Leila Cobo. Fiction. “…a graceful, skillfully woven tale of Rita and the son who comes to find her more than two decades later.”  
  11. MAP OF THE SKY- Felix J. Palma. Sci-Fi. “What if the events of H.G. Wells “War of the Worlds” became true…this is the result.”
  12. MAYA’S NOTEBOOK-Isabelle Allende. Suspense. “… (when her grandfather dies) Maya turns to drugs, alcohol, and petty crime…Lost in a dangerous underworld,…—a gang of assassins, the police, the FBI, and Interpol. (She) escapes to a remote island off the coast of Chile. Here, Maya …embarks on her greatest adventure: the journey into her own soul.”
There’s a book genre for everyone. So far I’ve read five of the 12 books and plan to read five more, maybe squeeze in the whole list. 

If you’re looking for a list of children’s books here’s a link to Latino Childrens Summer Reading List.

If you have any books with multi-cultural characters, settings or storylines, please add them in the comment section. My TBR list is ever growing. 


Happy reading.