Staff Picks: Books
Staff-recommended reading from the
I, as many of you may know, am Hispanic and when my children were small we used to practically live in the library. I’ve always loved the books and movies that I could borrow that supported and educated my children about their Latin heritage. The library just received a book that I fell in love with! The book is called The Dead Family Diaz by P.J. Bracegirdle and Poly Bernatene.
This rollicking book involves every skeleton family in the land of the dead making their annual pilgrimage among the living to celebrate el Día de los Muertos or the celebrated Day of the Dead in Mexico. It is the one time a year when families put up alters to welcome the spirits of their ancestors who will be among them that day. Who’s not excited about the trip ? Little Angelito, who has been told by his sister that the humans have bulgy eyes and squishy skin. This amusing and a quirky twist on learning to accept others is refreshing. The illustrations have a Tim Burtonesque quality that delights.
Espero que lo disfrutas! I hope you enjoy it!
The Dead Family Diaz
After you read this great juvenile fiction story, you will conclude that the book: Esperanza Rising IS appropriately titled. Esperanza is the daughter of a wealthy rancher in Aguascalientes, Mexico, in 1930. Esperanza always had servants; the most- trusted servants are Alfonso, Hortensia, and their son Miguel. The day before Esperanza’s thirteenth birthday her world is changed forever when Papi is killed by bandits. When Papi’s evil stepbrothers, Tio Marco and Tio Luis, take over the ranch, Esperanza and her mother and Abuelita (grandmother), hatch a desperate and dangerous plan of escape aided by Hortensia, Alfonso, and Miguel. Undercover, they all stealth away to California where they labor in a company farm camp and Mexican Repatriation is rampant. Esperanza is forced to change her attitude and ideas and is forced to learn common chores in order to survive.
This is a marvelously well-written story about personal change and triumph. Pam Munoz Ryan’s author’s note describes that the book parallels her grandmother’s life who lived much like the characters in this story. This book is a favorite amongst elementary teachers.
I wonder how many times I’ve read this book aloud. Hundreds, at least. I remember the book from my childhood and I’ve since shared it with children at home and at the library.
How is it that a book published in 1941, with illustrations in only one color, is so loved by kids? Those one-color illustrations in Make Way for Ducklings are certainly a big part of the attraction... the ducks are realistic, the perspectives and angles are varied, and there’s a strong feeling of movement and action. But the story is nearly perfect, as well. Words are practical yet poetic, the conversations between Mr. and Mrs. Mallard are wry; Mrs. Mallard, especially, has a bit of attitude that allows for no nonsense from anyone or anything.
If it’s been a while since you’ve spent some time with Robert McCloskey’s ducklings, visit the Children’s Room for a reminder of the power of a picture book.
Make Way for Ducklings