Book Reviews: Lucía the Luchadora by Cynthia Leonor Garza; illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez and ABC Pasta by Juana Medina

 

LUCÍA THE LUCHADORA

Review by Dr. Sanjuana Rodriguez

Lucia the Luchadora CoverDESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK: Lucía zips through the playground in her cape just like the boys, but when they tell her “girls can’t be superheroes,” suddenly she doesn’t feel so mighty. That’s when her beloved abuela reveals a dazzling secret: Lucía comes from a family of luchadoras, the bold and valiant women of the Mexican lucha libre tradition. Cloaked in a flashy new disguise, Lucía returns as a recess sensation! But when she’s confronted with a case of injustice, Lucía must decide if she can stay true to the ways of the luchadora and fight for what is right, even if it means breaking the sacred rule of never revealing the identity behind her mask. A story about courage and cultural legacy, Lucía the Luchadora is full of pluck, daring, and heart.

MY TWO CENTS: The cover of the book is flashy with a larger than life young girl in a luchadora outfit. The story begins with Lucía playing on the playground where there are two other boys. Lucía tries to play with the boys, but they are not interested in playing with her. One of the boys tells Lucia that “girls can’t be superheroes” and she gets angry that they have told her this. That’s when Lucia’s abuela whispers a secret to Lucía. Abuela shows Lucia her cape and mask and tells her about the Mexican lucha libre tradition. She shares that she was a luchadora as a young girl and tells her that “a luchadora has moxie. She is brave and full of heart, and isn’t afraid to fight for what is right.” The next day, Lucia goes back to the playground wearing her luchadora cape and mask. Everyone notices Lucía, but she does not reveal her identity to the kids. One day when she is playing she notices another luchadora dressed in pink. She hears the boys telling her the same thing, “girls can’t be superheroes! Girls are just made of sugar and spice and everything nice!”. Lucía remembers when her abuela told her that “a real luchadora must fight for what is right” and reveals that she is a girl. When others start clapping, she notices that there are luchadoras all around her who also reveal their identity. She continues to play without her mask and tells herself the following with her grandmother smiling as she watches her play, “I am still the best kind of superhero. I am Lucía the Luchadora, mask or no mask.”

This book is a rare jewel–it features a strong Latina girl as a superhero! This book sends a clear message to all kids to be courageous in the face of injustice. Lucía does not reveal who she is until she understands that it will help another little girl who is going through something similar. In the end, Lucía realizes that she does not need a mask to be a hero. The book also shows the importance of inter-generational relationships in the Latinx culture.  Lucía’s abuela is the one who shares her own experience and shares with her the mask and the cape. The last picture shows abuela smiling as Lucía plays with the other luchadoras on the playground.

The illustrations in this book are beautiful and bright. My favorite illustration shows Lucía when she gets angry.  In a full page spread, red and orange peppers surround Lucia to show that she is “spicy mad. KA-POW kind of mad.” The illustrations are very detailed and show careful attention to the depiction of cultural artifacts and symbols such as rosary beads and the abuela’s perfume.

TEACHING TIPS: At the end of the book, the author included a note on luchadoras, luchadores, and lucha libre in which the author discusses luchadores in Mexico and the history of lucha libre.

The author worked with an educator to create a curriculum guide to go along with Lucía the Luchadora. The guide includes questions, lesson ideas, and information about the author and illustrator.

http://www.cynthialeonorgarza.com/curriculum-guide-download-for-lucia-the-luchadora/

The following is an article of an interview with the author, Cynthia Leonor Garcia.

http://www.chron.com/entertainment/books/article/Luc-a-the-Luchadora-author-wants-more-11056270.php

This guide titled “Lucha Libre and Mexican Culture for Kids” features information about lucha libre as well as other picture books about this topic:

http://www.spanishplayground.net/mexican-culture-lucha-libre/

WHERE TO GET IT: To find Lucía the Luchadora, check your local public library, your local bookstore, or IndieBound. Also, check out GoodreadsAmazon, and Barnes & Noble.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website): I’m a writer and write all sorts of things. My debut picture book Lucía the Luchadora was published in March 2017. I’ve written essays for The Atlantic, commentaries for NPR’s All Things Considered and am an alum of the VONA/Voices writer’s workshop. I’m also a journalist and have worked as a reporter for several newspapers including the Houston Chronicle and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. I graduated from Rice University and have a Master’s in Journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. I was born and raised in South Texas and currently live with my husband and two young daughters in Nairobi, Kenya. Reach me via Twitter or at luchalady [@] gmail.com

Photo by Mark Cowles

Photo by Mark Cowles

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR (from her website): As a born and bred New Yorker, my recent move to Tasmania has led me to discover a limitless wellspring of inspiration in the form of an urban and rural coalescence.  My artistic framework stems from my undergraduate and graduate degree courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York where I studied illustration, computer animation and interactive media. Illustration is my main form of communication and memory keeping, and I believe that even the smallest life experiences can be the greatest asset to inspired creations. To me, art is a powerful motivator which equips me with the ability to transcribe my imagination into something tangible. I hope to direct those who view my work into a deeper experience with curated colour, delightful subject matter and professional craftsmanship.

 

ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Sanjuana C. Rodriguez is an Assistant Professor of Literacy and Reading Education in the Elementary and Early Childhood Department at Kennesaw State University. Her research interests include the early literacy development of culturally and linguistically diverse students, early writing development, literacy development of students who are emergent bilinguals, and Latinx children’s literature. She has published in journals such as Journal of Language and Literacy Education, Language Arts, and Language Arts Journal of Michigan.

 

ABC PASTA: An Entertaining Alphabet

Review by Cecilia Cackley

DESCRIPTION OF THE  BOOK:
A is for angel hair acrobat
M is for Macaroni the Magician
and T is for tortellini trapeze artist.
It’s an ABC circus that’s good enough to eat

MY TWO CENTS: We all know pasta is delicious, but who knew it could be so colorful and informative? After focusing on depicting animals in her last delightful concept book 1 Big Salad, Juana Medina adds human limbs, features and accessories to various pastas and other ingredients to create an engaging circus alphabet. Her lines are bold and sketchy, with splashes of color for cheeks and clothing added to create a beautiful, balanced effect. Medina has told me that Quentin Blake was a huge influence on her art, and it’s really visible in these energetic drawings. She constantly changes the way she incorporates the photographs of the different kinds of pasta (plus a few herbs and cheeses), sometimes using it for the body of the character, sometimes the head or the hair, and occasionally for wheels, instruments or hoops. This is a delicious concept picture book that readers of many ages will be thrilled to pick up.

TEACHING TIPS: This is a book that rewards careful observation, and teachers can use it with preschool and kindergarten classes as a fun read aloud for introducing the alphabet. For slightly older students, a scavenger hunt would be a fun way to create an activity to go with the text, asking kids to find letters that use the pasta for different effects, or count how many letters include an instrument. Medina’s vocabulary is very sophisticated for an alphabet book, making this a good choice for a language lesson explaining words like ‘spectator,’ ‘invincible,’ or ‘zestful.’ Art teachers can use this alongside Debbie Ridpath Ohi’s found object art to spark ideas for student drawings using pasta or other items. I’d also like to point out that unlike many other circus themed books, Medina focuses solely on the humans, with no animals included at all. Now that the Ringling Bros circus has closed, most circuses in the U.S. have retired the elephants and seals and instead feature an incredible range of acts from acrobats to jugglers to clowns. It was nice to see those acts introduced to young people in this book.

Photo: Silvia Baptiste © 2013ABOUT THE AUTHORJuana Medina was born in Bogotá, Colombia, where she grew up, getting in a lot of trouble for drawing cartoons of her teachers. Eventually, all that drawing (and trouble) paid off. Juana studied at the Rhode Island School of Design – RISD (where she has also taught). And she has done illustration & animation work for clients in the U.S., Latin America, and Europe. She now lives in Washington, D.C., where she teaches at George Washington University. She is the illustrator of Snick! by Doreen Cronin and the author and illustrator of 1 Big Salad, Juana and Lucas (which won the Pura Belpré Award) and the upcoming picture book Sweet Shapes.

WHERE TO GET IT: To find ABC Pasta, check your local public library, your local bookstore, or IndieBound. Also, check out GoodreadsAmazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Click here for a post about a studio visit with Juana Medina.

 

Cackley_headshotABOUT THE REVIEWER: Cecilia Cackley is a performing artist and children’s bookseller based in Washington DC where she creates puppet theater for adults and teaches playwriting and creative drama to children. Her bilingual children’s plays have been produced by GALA Hispanic Theatre and her interests in bilingual education, literacy, and immigrant advocacy all tend to find their way into her theatrical work. You can find more of her work at www.witsendpuppets.com.

Why Write Books About Luchadores? A Guest Post by Author-Illustrator Xavier Garza

The Great and Mighty Nikko - El JaguarBy Xavier Garza

Why write books about luchadores? I remember being asked that question by a librarian one time at a book signing. I answered her that one of the reasons was its obvious appeal to boys, who can be reluctant readers at times. Lucha libre readily lends itself to create the type of action-packed stories boys just love.

1970 El santo contra las momias de GuanajuatoBut there was another reason I wrote books about luchadores, dating back to when I was a seven-year-old child going to the movies with my dad. It was the summer of 1974 when my father took me to the H&H Drive-In in my hometown of Rio Grande City, Texas. The marquee heralded a double-feature matinee that consisted of a Japanese monster movie and an action-thriller flick from the world of Mexican cinema. The second film was titled Santo contra las momias de Guanajuato (The Saint versus the Mummies of Guanajuato). I was all too familiar with radioactive fire-breathing Japanese Kaijua monster movies of the Godzilla variety, but up until that night, I had not yet been introduced to the masked heroes and villains of lucha libre.

As the second feature began, I watched as the masked villain made his grand entrance. Heralded as a resurrected evil prince from a civilization long lost, he now sought dominion over the earth. But standing in his way was the direct descendant of his adversary from centuries past. I watched in awe as this mysterious new hero donned the legendary silver mask and cape of his ancestor and stood ready to do battle against the resurrected evil prince. I remember at that point asking my dad who was this silver masked man on the movie screen? My dad turned to look at me and smiled. “That’s El Santo, mijo… the Saint. They say he is the greatest luchador that has ever lived.”

The author-illustrator Xavier Garza as a child.

The author-illustrator Xavier Garza as a child.

My dad’s words echoed in my mind:  the greatest luchador that has ever lived. It was at that moment that I was hooked. I would be a fan of both El Santo and lucha libre for the rest of my life.

My father’s words served to spark in me a love for the sport of lucha libre that I carry with me to this day. I was in awe of the fact that these luchadores had the power to put on a mask and become something bigger than themselves. The minute they donned that mask and cape they ceased to be people with names like Rodolfo Guzman Huerta, Alejandro Marquez, or Teresa Lopez. They were transformed into the bigger-than-life personalities that lived in the world of lucha libre. They became heroes and villains with names like the evil Medical Assassin, the rabid Dogman Aguayo, and the heroic Masked Damsel. They were the living and breathing depictions of ancient heroes, cultural stereotypes, monsters, and in some cases… gods, themselves.

Their appeal was simply irresistible to a seven-year-old boy with an intense love of comic book super heroes. Except that these were no mere drawings in a comic book, oh no. These were flesh and blood individuals that nobody ever saw without their masks. To be seen or photographed without their masks was taboo, utterly forbidden. As such, it could be literally anybody underneath that mask. The person buying a gallon of milk at the grocery store could secretly be a masked luchador and you would never even know it. Was the Medical Assassin secretly your uncle? Was the Guardian Angel perhaps your local priest that gave mass at your church each and every Sunday? When it came to lucha libre, there was no way to truly know for sure.

The Great and Mighty Nikko! 7  La Tabla Marina

It was that sense of mystery that made lucha libre so appealing and would influence me for years to come. As I grew older, I dreamt of becoming both an artist and an author, and wouldn’t you know it that these luchadores found their way into my work. After nearly ten years of trying to get published, it would finally happen after a conversation with Dr. Nicholas Kanellos, president of Arte CucuysPúblico Press. In 2004, they would publish my first book, titled Creepy Creatures and other Cucuys, and it served as the foundation for many books to come. Among those books would be my first lucha libre book, published by Cinco Puntos Press in 2007, Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask, A Bilingual Cuento. In many ways this book was a labor of love for me. It was my great big thank-you to all those masked heroes and villains that had filled my head as a child and given wings to my imagination.

One night as I was working on illustration ideas for the book, my then-three-year-old son walked into the studio and asked me who was the silver-masked luchador that I was drawing. I instantly flashed back to that night at the movie drive-in with my father, his words echoing in my mind. I answered my son the only way I knew how. “That’s El Santo mijo… the Saint. They say he is the greatest luchador that has ever lived.”

Lucha

Don’t miss our review of Xavier Garza’s The Great and Mighty Nikko.

 

Xavier Garza hi resolution imageXavier Garza is an author, teacher, artist, and storyteller whose work is a lively documentation of life, dreams, superstitions, and heroes in the bigger-than-life world of South Texas. Xavier has exhibited his art and performed his stories in venues throughout Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. He is the author of several books for children and young adults. His Maxmilian and the Mystery of the Guardian Angel: A Bilingual Lucha Libre Thriller received a 2012 Pura Belpré Honor designation. Follow Xavier’s adventures on Twitter (his handle is @CharroClaus) and Facebook.

 

 

Book Review: The Great and Mighty Nikko! / ¡El gran y poderoso Nikko! by Xavier Garza

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Reviewed by Marianne Snow

DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK: Nikko loves bedtime. That’s because his bed turns into a magical wrestling ring for the masked luchadores that he loves. They bounce up and down like crazy. His mom, of course, doesn’t believe Nikko. She accuses him of jumping on his bed. But that’s just not true at all. She just can’t see what Nikko sees. And to prove his point—zoosh! Here comes luchador numero UNO with a golden mask and a silver cape. Oh, wow. Number TWO wears an orange mask with yellow flames. Another looks like a jaguar and he growls! A rooster! A bull with horns! And a dragon that breathes fire! And so it goes until TEN luchadores are jumping on Nikko’s bed. That’s when the Great and Mighty Nikko puts on his mask, taking on all ten wrestlers at once and defeating them soundly. Ahh, a fresh victory under his belt, now it’s time for Mighty Nikko to catch some zzzzzs!

MY TWO CENTS: As an early childhood teacher and aunt to several little ones, I’m always on the lookout for exciting new picture books that will capture young readers’ attention and, ideally, trick them into learning. Happily, Xavier Garza’s new dual language concept book – The Great and Mighty Nikko! / ¡El gran y poderoso Nikko! – fits the bill, bringing together the exhilaration of lucha libre and the practical skill of counting. Young readers will love how the tension mounts as, one by one, rudos (rascally wrestling opponents) join forces on Nikko’s bed / wrestling ring to challenge him in the ultimate pre-bedtime match. They won’t even notice that they’re learning as they anxiously turn the pages to count the ever-growing group of opponents. Meanwhile, Garza’s bold use of color, fluid brush strokes, comic-style layout and variety of luchador masks in his illustrations add to the drama. What an entertaining read – I’ll definitely be adding this lively tale to my educational library!

TEACHING TIPSThe Great and Mighty Nikko! / ¡El gran y poderoso Nikko! is the perfect addition to a preschool learning unit about sports, or teachers and students can simply enjoy it as a fun read-aloud. In addition to counting the luchadores on each page, children can practice their analytic skills by making predictions about what will happen when Nikko finally faces off against his opponents. Moreover, inviting children to join in on each page’s refrain – “Now there are ___ luchadores wrestling on my bed! / ¡Ahora hay ___ luchadores luchando en mi cama!” – will help them develop their bilingual pre-reading skills. Since the comic-style layout might be unfamiliar to young readers who are used to “traditional” written narratives, teachers can point out specific textual elements like speech bubbles and sound effects text. Comics and graphic novels are extremely popular with kids, so learning these features can benefit them in the future. With so many interesting facets, this book has something to teach every child.

Xavier GarzaABOUT THE AUTHOR: Xavier Garza is a prolific author, artist, and storyteller whose work is a lively documentation of the dreams, superstitions, and heroes in the bigger-than-life world of South Texas. Garza is celebrated for his lucha libre picture books and chapter books.  Maximilian and the Mystery of the Guardian Angel was a Pura Belpré Honor Book and an ALA Notable Book in 2012.

FOR MORE INFORMATION about The Great and Mighty Nikko! / ¡El gran y poderoso Nikko!, check your local public library, your local bookstore or IndieBound. Also, check out GoodreadsAmazon, and Barnes & Noble.

 

 

 

MarianneMarianne Snow Campbell is a doctoral student at The University of Georgia, where she researches nonfiction children’s books about Latin@ and Latin American topics and teaches an undergraduate course on children’s literature. Before graduate school, she taught pre-K and Kindergarten in Texas, her home state. She misses teaching, loves critters, and can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Guest Post: ¡Qué Vivan los Niños Luchadores!

Todos

All images from Niño Wrestles the World come courtesy of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.

By Lettycia Terrones

On a bright, 108º F. Las Vegas afternoon, inside the cavernous decadence of Caesars Palace, audience members attending the 2014 Pura Belpré Award Celebración were treated to a gem of a speech by this year’s Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner, Yuyi Morales. Recognized for her outstanding book, Niño Wrestles the World, Yuyi’s acceptance speech affirmed the resilient strength of children and their power of imagination. Her words served as a reminder to all educators of the important charge we have to provide our children with stories that accurately portray their worlds and strengths.

Since 1996, the Pura Belpré Award has annually recognized Latin@ writers and illustrators for excellence in children’s literature that “best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience.” This year’s winner for illustration, Niño Wrestles the World, does just this by capturing –through story, rhythm, and images— the intangible ingredients that come together to form a uniquely Chicano-Latino flavor that any child growing up in East Los Angeles or El Paso will immediately recognize.

LloronaCardChamucoCardWhat are these ingredients? La Llorna. El Chamuco. El Extraterrestre. La Cabeza Olmeca. Las Momias. These are the protagonists that star in countless cuentos told and re-told in Mexican and Chicano families. Yuyi presents a dynamic cuento of a boy-hero in a wrestling mask, un niño luchador, who through wit, humor, ganas, and family teamwork, outsmarts these terrifying figures of Mexican and Chicano cultural mythology. As Yuyi reminded us in her acceptance speech, children’s imaginative capacity is an empowering tool that enables them to confront life situations with positive resilience. In addition to her prepared remarks, Yuyi described her own imaginative process as a child, where she was able to transform the often scary and mysterious cultural myths of La Llorona and El Chamuco into figures she could contend with and, perhaps most importantly, learn to play with.

This transformative power demonstrates the enormous agency children have to make meaning in the world. It depicts what Dr. Tara Yosso points to in her seminal work on cultural wealth and social capital, which she calls Community Cultural Wealth. Community Cultural Wealth lists specific assets practiced and nurtured in communities of color, which serve as forms of resistance to the myriad social oppressions marginalized people contended with daily. Emerging from the cultural knowledge passed down in families and communities, these assets include “aspirational, navigational, social, linguistic, familial and resistant capital.”

NinoVChamuco
Yuyi’s book exemplifies Community Cultural Wealth at work. Its text and illustration display the wealth of linguistic storytelling traditions of cuentos handed down in our families. It also serves as a meta-narrative of resistance through its prominent use of Mexican and Chicano cultural images. Yuyi’s narrative and illustration authentically capture how, for instance, the myth of La Llorona is in continuous transformation as she is imagined by our children today. Instead of becoming clichéd tropes of Mexican and Chicano culture, El Chamuco, El Extraterrestre, La Cabeza Olmeca, and Las Momias, are represented authentically as living and changing stories. This truly is a marker of Yuyi’s outstanding mastery of the picture book. She brings to the world of children’s literature works that defy cultural stereotypes, and that champion children as creative, imaginative meaning-makers.

Photo by Lettycia Terrones, 2014

Photo by Lettycia Terrones, 2014

I thought a lot about the impact of Yuyi’s Niño Wrestles the World when I attended a Lucha Libre Night at the East Los Angeles Community Youth Center last spring. The family-run event brought in masked luchadores from Tijuana and Los Angeles to battle it out in the recreation center’s well-worn boxing ring. At the halftime marker, the ring became open for the many kids in attendance to frolic with abandon and take photos with the night’s Lucha Libre heroes. I thought about how for many children living in underserved communities, Yuyi’s story of the boy-hero, the niño luchador, is an actual and accurate depiction of their lives. I wondered how many of the kids in attendance that night had been exposed to Niño Wrestles the World in their classroom or public library. I wondered how this exposure would strengthen their sense of belonging and reflect back to them their self-efficacy.

Educators should remember the characters brought to life in Yuyi’s picture book are still very much alive today in the imaginations of Latino children. They are stories that form an essential cultural fabric of what it means to be Mexican and/or Chicano. Whether we call our people first-generation, second-generation, or if we are from generations that preceded the Treaty of Guadalupe, or are present-day refugee generations embarking on perilous journeys, climbing atop trains and traversing deserts, to seek our families and a promise of a better future in the United States. These stories are ours. They form an American story.

References

Pura Belpré Award

http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/belpremedal

Yosso*, T. J. (2005). Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth. Race Ethnicity and Education, 8(1), 69-91.

Yuyi Morales, Illustrator Award Acceptance Speech, page 4 http://www.ala.org/alsc/sites/ala.org.alsc/files/content/awardsgrants/bookmedia/belpre-14.pdf

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Lettycia Terrones, M.L.I.S., serves as the Education Librarian at the Pollak Library at California State University, Fullerton. Her research interests are in Chicana/o children’s literature and critical literacy. Lettycia is an American Library Association Spectrum Scholar and a member of REFORMA: The National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking.

Book Review: Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales

By Sujei Lugo

DESCRIPTION FROM THE BOOK JACKET: Señoras y señores, put your hands together for the fantastic, spectacular, one of a kind…Niño! In a single move, he takes down his  competition! No opponent is a challenge for the cunning skills of Niño, world champion lucha libre competitor!

MY TWO CENTS: As soon as you take a glimpse of the book cover, you know that Yuyi Morales is presenting you with a treat of pint-sized lucha. The colorful and mixed-media artwork and its wrestling match layout, capture the energy and enthusiasm of the characters and lucha libre itself. Written in English with a dash of Spanish words and onomatopoeias, readers are exposed to an action-packed picture book filled with elements of Mexican and other Spanish-speaking cultures.

NiñoWrestlestheWorldCover“¡Niño! ¡Niño! ¡Niño!” It is through this chant that we are introduced to Niño, a paleta eater, toy-loving, and acrobatic boy. Once Niño puts on his luchador mask, contenders such as La Momia de Guanajuato, La Llorona and Cabeza Olmeca, line up to challenge him. With his playful lucha style, Niño challenges his opponents with puzzles, dolls, marbles, popsicles and tickles, showing how Morales playfully incorporates childhood glee into this wonderful homage to lucha libre. At the end of the story we also meet Niño’s toddler sisters, who are mischievous and loud and drive Niño crazy! This is where Yuyi Morales uses the opportunity to capture and address siblings’ relationships, while showcasing the “best move” to defeat sibling rivalry.

I could not deny that it crossed my mind that Niño Wrestles the World, plays as a homage and retelling of the legacy of Mexican lucha icon, El Santo. Like El Santo, once Niño puts on his luchador mask, he never takes it off. Like El Santo, in his movies, Niño challenges the mummy of Guanajuato, the llorona, and aliens. And you could say that when later in the book Niño joins his sisters and challenges new opponents, we are seeing a retelling of adventures where El Santo joins fellow luchadores Blue Demon and Mil Máscaras. Setting the wonderful El Santo references aside, in this picture book we have a fun and energetic story and lovable characters that will release the inner luchador or luchadora in kids and adults of all ages.

Niño Wrestles the World is the 2014 Pura Belpré Illustrator Winner and was named a highly commended title by the 2014 Charlotte Zolotow Award. It was also included in a series of list such as A Fuse #8 Production 100 Magnificent Children’s Books 2013, School Library Journal Top 10 Latino-themed Books of 2013, Fanfare (Horn Book’s list of the best books for young people published in 2013), Center for the Study Multicultural Children’s Literature Best Multicultural Books of 2013 and Latinas for Latino Lit Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature of 2013.

TEACHING TIPS: While early readers and kids between the ages of 4-8 might enjoy reading this picture book, it is through the activity of reading aloud that its energy and humor really stands out. Adults and childrens’ librarians can read the book, while teaching new vocabulary and words in Spanish to kids.

Language Arts, Visual Arts, and Social Studies teachers (pre-school- 2nd grade) could also use Niño Wrestles the World with their students. The book is filled with fun onomatopoeias, adjectives and words in Spanish, which will attract students to the language learning process. Art teachers can collaborate with Language Arts teachers with the masks of the different characters of the story. Templates of different lucha masks are available on Yuyi Morales’ website, or you can be creative with your own mask!

The elements of Mexican culture exposed through Niño’s opponents, the trading-card-style information of each opponent (includes pronunciation), and Yuyi Morales’ illustrations provide the opportunity to incorporate them into Social Studies curricula. Educators should be provided with resources and materials that will serve as tools to bring multiethnic/multicultural exposure and discussion into the classroom. This is especially relevant now since Mexican American and Latin@ Studies curricula and books are constantly challenged in the U.S. public education system.

LEXILE: N/A

AUTHOR: Yuyi Morales is a Mexican author, illustrator, artist, and puppet maker. She has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Physical Education from the University of Xalapa, México and used to host her own Spanish-language radio program for children in San Francisco, California.

She has won numerous awards for her children’s books such as the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award for Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book (2004) and Los Gatos Black on Halloween (2008), the Pura Belpré Author Honor for Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book (2009), the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award for Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book (2004), Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book (2009) and Los Gatos Black on Halloween (2008), and Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor for My Abuelita (2010) and Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez (2004).

Morales divides her time between the San Francisco area and Veracruz, Mexico. Her lastest picture book Viva Frida! will be released in September 2014.

For more information about Niño Wrestles the World visit your local library or bookstore. Also check out Macmillan Publishers, Goodreads, Indiebound.org, WorldCat.org, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.  

Enjoy this video of Yuyi Morales reading Niño Wrestles the World!