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Spanish Anyone?

By on September 3, 2016

In the early Fall we celebrate Hispanic Heritage. Also during September, we set aside time to honor grandparents. Included in this delightful collection of books are family accounts that highlight Latino cultures and traditions. Also featured are blended and extended generations, and informal relationships. These memorable tales showcase a variety of storytelling and kinds of stories. You can use these books to launch conversations about your own family history. Sharing experiences from childhood memories with your child(ren) can bring you closer to each other. Take time to generate a storehouse of keepsakes. They
can enrich your times together and fill your life with playfulness and laughter.

By Meribeth Shank

My Tata’s Remedies

BOOK-Tataby Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford, Illustrated by Antonio Castro L.
Not only is this an appealing story for young people, it’s also a useful book of home remedies. This captivating multigenerational story shows how flowers and other plants can be used to treat common hurts and illnesses. Grandson Aaron watches as his Tata (grandpa) Gus, the neighborhood healer, helps a parade of family members and friends. They arrive asking for assistance; for bee-stings, rashes and burns to toothaches, fevers and eye infections. With roots in the American Southwest, this book in both Spanish and English, spotlights traditional practices and community building. Colorful, expressive watercolors highlight both the injured individuals and the natural plants from which the treatments are made. A glossary of medicinal herbs and remedies with pictures, informal and scientific names, and cautions is included at the end.

Cinco Puntos Press, $17.95 (hardcover), $8.95 (paperback). Interest Level: Grades 1- 3 (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library: Main Branch, Allapattah, Miami Lakes, North Dade Regional, South Dade Regional, West Dade Regional. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

Mango, Abuela and Me

BOOK-Mangoby Meg Medina, Illustrated by Angela Dominguez
Mia speaks only a little Spanish (Espanol) and Abuela (Grandma) speaks almost no English. How will they talk together? Mia has an idea sparked by a red feather that Abuela brought with her. It’s a way to keep the memory alive, of “a wild parrot that roosted in her mango trees” back home. In fact, Mia has several great ideas about how she and her Abuela can learn to talk with each other. But the parrot she and her mother get for Abuela as a gift, naming him Mango, is the delight of this story. Colorful, award-winning illustrations in ink, gouache and marker are enhanced with “digital magic” to match the upbeat text.
Expressive faces and body language communicate difficulties and successes of language barriers, familiar to many immigrant families. Award winner Medina easily introduces Spanish words into the text of this warm family story. This gives a strong sense of both cultural and generational variations. Context and sometimes an English translation of a phrase make this tale accessible. A Spanish-language edition is also available.


Candlewick Press, $15.99 Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2. (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library: Main Branch, Little River, Miami Lakes, North Shore, South Dade Regional, West Dade Regional. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

Separate is Never Equal

Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation

BOOK-separateby Duncan Tonatiuh
Many people think the fight for school integration began with Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954. However, Mexican-American students experienced the integration of schools in California in 1947 (seven years earlier). This is the story of how that happened.
In the summer of 1944, Sylvia Mendez and her family moved to Westminster. She and her brothers were excited to attend the school near the farm the family leased. Aunt Soledad took Sylvia, her brothers and their cousins to register. But, they were told “they must go to the Mexican school.” This was in spite of the fact that the children and parents were all US citizens and spoke English. No one would explain to the Mendez’s why the children could not attend the school nearest their home. The two schools, clearly providing separate education, were not providing equal education, as required by law. Despite many local Mexican-Americans’ unwillingness to sign a petition, four other families did join the Mendez’s in a lawsuit. The successful suit received support from organizations as diverse as the NAACP, the American Jewish Congress, and the Japanese American Citizens League.
Tonatiuh’s hand-drawn stylized illustrations are digitally colored and collaged. His use of images that suggest Mexican folk art is a captivating mix of indigenous and modern design. A useful author’s note explains the cultural and historical environment. Photos of Sylvia, her parents and the schools help readers make connections to real people. Additional back matter includes a glossary, bibliography, and index. Especially interesting are the sources of the dialogue.


Abrams, $18.95 Interest Level: Grades 1-3. (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library: Main Branch, Lemon City, Miami Lakes, North Dade Regional, Opa Locka, South Dade Regional, West Dade Regional. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

More Terrific Tales:

BOOK-danceKitchen Dance

by Maurie J. Manning

Houghton Mifflin, $17.99 Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2
(This book is available to borrow at the Miami-Dade Library: Main Branch, Allapattah, Little River, Miami Lakes, Opa Locka, South Dade Regional, West Dade Regional. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

BOOK-kittensA Box Full of Kittens

by Sonia Manzano; Illustrated by Matt Phelan

Atheneum, $17.99 Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 1
(This book is available to borrow at the Miami-Dade Library: Main Branch, West Dade Regional. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)


Meribeth Shank works in the Media Center at Miami Country Day School, an independent school in Miami Shores, Florida, has taught classes on Writing Books for Children and earned her MFA in Writing for children from Vermont College.
You can also find her on the web: http://meribeths.blogspot.com

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