Mexico

Screen shot 2014-09-03 at 1.48.17 PMWritten by Amy Costales, Illustrations by Martha Avilés

Abuelita (Grandmother) has come to stay in Jose’s house and changes are afoot! In this beautifully illustrated book, we see the world through Jose’s eyes as Abuelita comes to stay and life transforms in the most wonderful and meaningful ways. For instance, José has to share his room with his grandmother, but he doesn’t mind it because she tells him stories long into the night. New smells appear in the kitchen but also delicious hot chocolate for José in the mornings! Things are different, but they are good, and Abuelita adds so much to the household because she is so “full of life”!

This is a great book for starting conversations about ancestry, relatives and cultural backgrounds. It’s also a good book for discussing what happens when new members come or go from a household. Each page (or set of pages) has the text in English and Spanish, making it a great book for both bilingual readers as well as those learning either Spanish or English.

 

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Written by Janice Levy

Have you heard about the Christmas custom in Oaxaca, Mexico called The Night of The Radish (El Noche de Los Rabanos)? As part of the special festivities, people carve large radishes into elaborate scenes – most of which have a Christmas or Nativity theme.  And some are amazing works of art.

In this story, one radish decides that she does not want to become part of this festival and runs away.  A huge chase ensues and a cast of characters chase the radish in a way that resembles the story of the gingerbread man.

Funny, cute and a nice way to talk about how holiday customs differ from place to place, the Runaway Radish is a great book to add a touch of mirth to the holiday season!

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Retold/Adapted By Jewell Reinhart Coburn

Illustrated By Connie McLennan

Can you imagine a tale of “Cinderella” set in rural Mexico?  This is exactly what you’ll find in the book, Domotila, where the story takes places in the region of Hidalgo, Mexico, complete with adobe houses, colorful villages and young girl so talented she can turn cactus into a delicious treat called nopales.  And, in everything she does, she follows her mother’s wonderful advice: “Do every task with care and always add a generous dash of love!”.

As you probably guessed, the young girl is named Domitila and her family falls upon hard times.  She is forced to travel to the city to cook and work for the governor’s family and there she encounters the “prince”.  Through many twists and turns, the story leads to a satisfying ending where the value of a kind and caring person is seen as real talent and beauty.

Although there’s something magical about any Cinderalla tale – this one truly shines in terms of cultural authenticity and an engaging story. This is a satisfying book to read together with children as well as a great pick for bilingual families or those wishing to learn a bit more Spanish.

And there’s even a recipe for cactus nopales – cook it, if you dare!


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Based on a Poem By Alejandrao Cruz Martinez, Illustrated By Fernando Olivera

Translated By Rosalma Zubizarreta

Sometimes when people are different, they are not always treated well. Have you ever experienced this?

Such was the case in the story of Lucía Zenteno, the main character in this beautiful and lyrical book that is based on a Zapotec (Mexican) legend. Although she is beautiful and kind, she is different and is treated very badly for it.  So she decides to leave. The problem is this. The river and all the things in it are so much in love with Lucia that they leave with her and the village has no water.  To reconcile with Lucia, the village must learn an important lesson about treating everyone with kindness – no matter how different they might appear to be.

This brilliantly translated book – the story shines in both English and Spanish – is a great tale of life, love and nature.  It’s a magical short story that speaks volumes about compassion and learning to love others without prejudice.


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Categories : Being Different, Mexico
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Dec
19

Coming Soon

Check back later please.

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Written by Joanne Oppenheim and Illustrated by Fabian Negrin

This book shares another beautiful version of the Mexican Legend of how a simple weed became a beautiful gift for the Baby Jesus, because it was given with love.   The story takes place during Las Posadas (see explanation below) when Joseph and Mary’s quest to find a place to stay in Bethlehem is reenacted.  Little Lucinda is sad because her family has fallen on heard times and she does not have a gift to bring to the alter – a custom in Mexico during the nights before Christmas.  An angelic voice tells her to gather weeds and – embarrassed – she does so.  As she walks down the long aisle to the church, the whole congregation gasps because her simple weeds have burst into bloom as beautiful poinsettias.

This book has a bit more detail then the Tomie DePaulo “Legend of the Pointsettia” and boasts lovely dream-like illustrations by Argentinian artist, Fabian Negrin. The Miracle of the First Poinsettia also shares the music to a lovely Mariachi song sung during this time of year called El Rorro (the babe) .  However, both stories share the wonder of this legend, the joy of Christmas miracles and a lovely explanation of why this beautiful flower shines so brightly in so many houses at holiday times.

Las Posadas – Originally a Spanish custom, this tradition of reenacting Joseph and Mary’s search for an inn (posada) before the birth of Jesus is celebrated in Mexico and also in the US Southwest, with slight variations.


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Retold and illustrated by Tomie dePaola

A beautiful Mexican folktale about how a “useless weed” became a Christmas miracle and a special gift for the baby Jesus (el Niño Jesus). Tomie de Paulo has a gift for creating and illustrating wonderful stories that take you right into the culture he is sharing.  In this story you travel to rural Mexico and share a story about little Lucinda who wants to help her mother weave a special blanket for the town’s Nativity celebration.  But when her mom becomes sick and she can’t accomplish the task herself – she is downhearted.  Right then, a miracle helps save the day and shows the value of any gift that is given from the heart.

An inspiring tale about what it really means to give.


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