Latinxs in Kid Lit’s June 2022 Newsletter

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In our June 2022 newsletter, we have a guest post by author Cynthia Harmony about the importance of community, June releases, and recent reviews.

Click here to access it: https://mailchi.mp/dad1785cd1d7/ziik0z85vf

To get future newsletters in your inbox, you will need to subscribe. Click here: http://eepurl.com/hzptzX

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Summer Break and Upcoming Changes

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As of today, we are on summer hiatus. We are also on the precipice of big changes.

Since we started posting on September 16, 2013, we have published 657 posts that celebrate Latinx creators. We’ve had more than 800,000 hits from all over the globe, and we have more than 11,000 followers across our platforms.

We are proud of what we’ve created. We know that more people have been introduced to Latinx kid lit by landing on our site. At this point, however, we need to shift gears to continue the work we do here while also managing our full-time jobs, personal lives, and other creative endeavors.

So, here’s what you can expect:

  • This site will remain live as a free resource for all.
  • This summer, we will make sure that our book review pages are updated and that our reviews are posted on book buy sites, like Amazon and Barnes & Noble to help creators with visibility and inform people browsing for books to buy.
  • We will post here at times, but we will no longer post weekly or twice a week, as we have been. It’s just too much.

Instead…

We will publish a monthly newsletter that will include similar content: new releases, book reviews, Q&As with authors and illustrators.

To get the newsletter in your inbox, you will need to subscribe. Click here: http://eepurl.com/hzptzX

Thank you for being on this journey with us.

Be sure to subscribe to keep up to date on Latinxs in Kid Lit.

We Read Banned Books: Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed: 15 Voices from the Latinx Diaspora, edited by Saraciea J. Fennell

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Welcome to another Book Talk, which can be found on our YouTube channel!

Here, Dr. Sonia Rodriguez and Dora M. Guzmán talk about WILD TONGUES CAN’T BE TAMED: 15 Views from the Latinx Diaspora, a young adult anthology edited by Saraciea J. Fennell.

ABOUT THE BOOK: Edited by The Bronx Is Reading founder Saraciea J. Fennell and featuring an all-star cast of Latinx contributors, Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed is a ground-breaking anthology that will spark dialogue and inspire hope

In Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed, bestselling and award-winning authors as well as up-and-coming voices interrogate the different myths and stereotypes about the Latinx diaspora. These fifteen original pieces delve into everything from ghost stories and superheroes, to memories in the kitchen and travels around the world, to addiction and grief, to identity and anti-Blackness, to finding love and speaking your truth. Full of both sorrow and joy, Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed is an essential celebration of this rich and diverse community.

The bestselling and award-winning contributors include Elizabeth Acevedo, Cristina Arreola, Ingrid Rojas Contreras, Naima Coster, Natasha Diaz, Saraciea J. Fennell, Kahlil Haywood, Zakiya Jamal, Janel Martinez, Jasminne Mendez, Meg Medina, Mark Oshiro, Julian Randall, Lilliam Rivera, and Ibi Zoboi.

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Click on the link below to watch the book talk and then add your comments below to join the conversation. ENJOY!

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Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez, PhD is an Associate Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College (CUNY) where she teaches composition, literature, and creative writing. Her academic research focuses on decolonial healing in Latinx children’s and young adult literature. Sonia is a Mellon Emerging Faculty Leader.

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Dora M. Guzmán is a bilingual reading specialist for grades K-5 and also teaches college courses in Children’s Literature and Teaching Beginning Literacy. She is currently a doctoral student with a major in Reading, Language, and Literacy. When she is not sharing her love of reading with her students, you can find her in the nearest library, bookstore, or online, finding more great reads to add to her never-ending “to read” pile!

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Book Review: Tía Fortuna’s New Home: A Jewish Cuban Journey written by Ruth Behar, illustrated by Devon Holzwarth

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Reviewed by Maria Ramos-Chertok

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: A poignant multicultural ode to family and what it means to create a home as one girl helps her Tía move away from her beloved Miami apartment.

When Estrella’s Tía Fortuna has to say goodbye to her longtime Miami apartment building, The Seaway, to move to an assisted living community, Estrella spends the day with her. Tía explains the significance of her most important possessions from both her Cuban and Jewish culture, as they learn to say goodbye together and explore a new beginning for Tía.

A lyrical book about tradition, culture, and togetherness, Tía Fortuna’s New Home explores Tía and Estrella’s Sephardic Jewish and Cuban heritage. Through Tía’s journey, Estrella will learn that as long as you have your family, home is truly where the heart is.

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MY TWO CENTS: I am a big fan of Ruth Behar’s and have enjoyed her adult books as much as her middle grade books Lucky Broken Girl (2017) and Letters from Cuba (2019). Tía Fortuna’s New Home is her first picture book aimed at younger audiences.

The book’s landscape is the relationship between an aunt and her niece. The story follows little Estrellita as she tracks the process of her aunt moving out of her beloved home into a facility for the elderly. This move is the second big move in Tia’s life, the first being when she immigrated to the United States from Havana, Cuba. While both of these moves are objectively hard ones, Tia manages to enjoy the present and keep an optimistic attitude which positively influences Estrellita’s experience. 

I liked that the story focused on the opportunities inherent in changing one’s circumstances and presented an uplifting paradigm. Having Sephardic characters and bilingual text enhances the story by providing a personal and unique slice of life. I wish this book had been available to me when I was young.

The illustrations by Devon Holzwarth are amazing, and I found myself being drawn into the story more and more through the vivid and colorful artwork.

TEACHING TIPS: I could see using this book to discuss life transitions generally and the attitude one brings to change. Students can discuss the contrast between focusing on the negative versus the positive aspects of a pending life transition. For students who have a grandparent moving into assisted living, this book would be a great orientation to one way that move can happen.

The book can also be used as part of a module on cultural diversity, as it covers Cuban-Jewish characters.  In a Jewish Day School, the book would be ideal in exposing students to the multiculturalism of the Jewish people.

In teaching about family trees, the book references how family recipes are passed down from generation to generation. In this vein, it would be interesting to have children interview their parents or grandparents to find out what recipes they make that were passed down to them and from whom. 

The Author’s Note at the end of the book is a story unto itself and where I’d recommend teachers begin in order to gain context before sharing the book with students. There is also a fabulous glossary of words that could be a fun addition for students to learn new words.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website): As a storyteller, traveler, memoirist, poet, teacher, and public speaker, Ruth Behar is acclaimed for the compassion she brings to her quest to understand the depth of the human experience. Born in Havana, Cuba, she grew up in New York, and has also lived in Spain and Mexico. Her recent memoirs for adults, An Island Called Home and Traveling Heavy, explore her return journeys to Cuba and her search for home as an immigrant and a traveler. Her books for young readers are Lucky Broken Girl and Letters from Cuba. She was the first Latina to win a MacArthur “Genius” Grant, and her honors also include a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Distinguished Alumna Award from Wesleyan University, and an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from the Hebrew Union College. She is an anthropology professor at the University of Michigan and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR (from her website): Devon Holzwarth is a picture book illustrator, author, and painter. Born in Washington D.C., Devon grew up in Panama surrounded by nature and her dad’s art supplies, and has lived in many other places over the years. She currently lives in Germany with her family including her husband, two kids, a galgo dog from Spain and a little dachshund from Romania.

Devon earned her BFA in 2000 from the Rhode Island School of Design focusing on screen printing and painting. She has written & illustrated two picture books: FOUND YOU and SOPHIE’S STORIES, with Alison Green Books/Scholastic UK. She has a number of picture books publishing in 2022, including “Tia Fortuna’s New Home” (Knopf Books, English & Spanish language versions), “Listen” (Dial Books and Penguin UK), and “Everywhere With You” (Walker Books US and Walker Books UK).

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Maria Ramos-Chertok is the author of The Butterfly Series: Fifty-two weeks of Inquiries for Transformation and a contributor to three anthologies: All the Women in My Family Sing: Essays on Equality, Justice, and Freedom (FEB 2018) edited by Deborah Santana, She’s Got This! Essays on Standing Strong and Moving On (FEB 2019), and What We Didn’t Expect: Personal Stories About Premature Birth edited by Melody Schreiber (NOV 2020). For more information and/or to receive her monthly blogs posts visit www.mariaramoschertok.com

We Read Banned Books: Lobizona by Romina Garber

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Welcome to another Book Talk, which can be found on our YouTube channel!

Here, Dora M. Guzmán and Alexandra Someillan talk about LOBIZONA by Romina Garber.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Some people ARE illegal.

Lobizonas do NOT exist.

Both of these statements are false.

Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.

Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past—a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.

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Click on the link below to watch the book talk and then add your comments below to join the conversation. ENJOY!

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Dora M. Guzmán is a bilingual reading specialist for grades K-5 and also teaches college courses in Children’s Literature and Teaching Beginning Literacy. She is currently a doctoral student with a major in Reading, Language, and Literacy. When she is not sharing her love of reading with her students, you can find her in the nearest library, bookstore, or online, finding more great reads to add to her never-ending “to read” pile!

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Alexandra Someillan is a freelance book reviewer and teacher who lives in Miami, FL. She has written for Frolic Media, where she has raved about her favorite Latinx romances. Currently, she has been accepted in the Las Musas mentorship and is working on her Latinx contemporary novel with Nina Moreno. Usually, you can find Alexandra obsessing over nineties pop culture and eating too many pastelitos.

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Book Review: No Filter and Other Lies by Crystal Maldonado

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Reviewed by Alexandra Someillan

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHERS: You should know, right now, that I’m a liar.

They’re usually little lies. Tiny lies. Baby lies. Not so much lies as lie adjacent.

But they’re still lies.

Twenty one-year-old Max Monroe has it all: beauty, friends, and a glittering life filled with adventure. With tons of followers on Instagram, her picture-perfect existence seems eminently enviable.             

Except it’s all fake.         

Max is actually 17-year-old Kat Sanchez, a quiet and sarcastic teenager living in drab Bakersfield, California. Nothing glamorous in her existence—just sprawl, bad house parties, a crap school year, and the awkwardness of dealing with her best friend Hari’s unrequited love.

 But while Kat’s life is far from perfect, she thrives as Max: doling out advice, sharing beautiful photos, networking with famous influencers, even making a real friend in a follower named Elena. The closer Elena and “Max” get—texting, Snapping, and even calling—the more Kat feels she has to keep up the façade.   

But when one of Max’s posts goes ultra-viral and gets back to the very person she’s been stealing photos from, her entire world – real and fake — comes crashing down around her. She has to figure out a way to get herself out of the huge web of lies she’s created without hurting the people she loves.  

But it might already be too late.

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MY TWO CENTS: After reading her second book, No Filter and Other Lies, Crystal Maldonado has become one of my official auto-buy authors. There is something about Crystal Maldonado’s writing that always brings me to tears and makes me feel all the feelings for the characters she creates!

One of my first impressions of the main character Kat Sanchez is that I loved how secure she was in her body and never felt a need to hide her beautiful, fat, brown body. We need many stories about fat and queer characters who accept their bodies, especially since women constantly get bombarded with unrealistic beauty standards in social media.

Despite Kat being secure with herself, she is flawed and not inherently likable. She does some awful things in the novel that does severe damage. However, there was still a vulnerability that showed the dichotomy of the character. Even though she did terrible things, I still cared for her and wanted to be that big sister to shake some sense into her.

The feeling that Kat had of not being seen or validated is something that many people can relate to, especially regarding the harmful effects of social media and the inherent racism behind it. However, sometimes it can be uncomfortable to admit it. Still, we are all guilty of playing the comparison game and fooling ourselves into thinking someone’s life in social media is perfect when in reality, it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Even though Kat did terrible things throughout the book that made me want to scream at her repeatedly, this book did tug at my heartstrings. One of the things I loved was a bond she developed with a dog that made me cry tears of joy. In addition, the family dynamics were well-written, and the close bond she has with her Abuelos and how they support her, even when she did unforgivable things, warmed my heart because of how loving and kind they were. Kat also has a great support system of friends who are there for Kat through her worst moments, and I loved reading how they interacted and learned from one another through their hardships.

No Filter and Other Lies perfectly articulates the pressures of social media and the need to construct the perfect version of yourself and how,little by little, that veneer of perfection cracks over time. If you’re looking for a fat, brown, messy bi-sexual character who struggles through the pressures of social media, this is the book for you!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website): Crystal Maldonado is a young adult author with a lot of feelings. Her debut novel, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega, is a 2021 New England Book Award winner, a Cosmopolitan Best New Book, and a POPSUGAR Best New YA Novel. Her next novel, No Filter and Other Lies, explores teenage life in the social media age—and the lies we tell to ourselves and others.

By day, Crystal works in higher ed marketing, and by night, she’s a writer who loves Beyoncé, glitter, shopping, and spending too much time on her phone. Her work has been published in Latina, BuzzFeed, and the Hartford Courant.

She lives in western Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and dog. Find her everywhere @crystalwrote or crystalwrote.com.

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ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Alexandra Someillan is a freelance book reviewer and teacher who lives in Miami, FL. She has written for Frolic Media, where she has raved about her favorite Latinx romances. Currently, she has been accepted in the Las Musas mentorship and is working on her Latinx contemporary novel with Nina Moreno. Usually, you can find Alexandra obsessing over nineties pop culture and eating too many pastelitos.