Category Archives: Latino/a Literaure

Celebrating Hispanic Authors

During National Hispanic Heritage Month, I promised to read a novel written by a Latino/a and blog about it each month. I have fallen behind on the reading, but I have started Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Peña and will write about it once I am done. In the meantime, I’ve compiled a list of Latino/a authors who write middle grade and young adult novels. There were a couple of good lists online already, so I worked with those and added some names. If I have missed anyone, please let me know. I will add them to the list and to my personal to-be-read list. Enjoy and Happy Reading!

Isabel Allende: City of Beasts series

Julia Alvarez: Before We Were Free, Return to Sender, Finding Miracles

Sandra Cisneros: The House on Mango Street

Jack Gantos: Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, Joey Pigza Loses Control, Hole in My Life, Dead End in Norvelt

Francisco Jimenez: The Circuit, Reaching Out, Breaking Through

Pam Muñoz Ryan: Esperanza Rising, Becoming Naomi Leon, The Dreamer, Riding Freedom, Paint the Wind

Gary Soto: Buried Onions, The Afterlife, Accidental Love, Baseball in April etc.

Francisco X. Stork: Marcelo in the Real World, The Last Summer of the Death Warriors, Irises, Behind the Eyes, The Way of the Jaguar

Margarita Engle: The Firefly Letters, Hurricane Dancers, The Poet Slave of Cuba, The Surrender Tree, Tropical Secrets, The Wild Book

Cristina Garcia: I Wanna Be Your Shoebox, Dreams of Significant Girls

Judith Ortiz Cofer: An Island Like You, Stories of the Barrio, Call Me María, If I Could Fly

Alisa Valdes: Haters, The Temptation: A Kindred Novel (coming 2012)

Ashley Hope Perez: What Can’t Wait

Jennifer Cervantes: Tortilla Sun

Meg Medina: The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind (coming 2012)

Jessica Martinez: Virtuosity

Yxta Maya Murray: What it Takes to Get to Vegas, The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Kidnapped

René Saldaña Jr.: The Jumping Tree, The Whole Sky Full of Stars, Finding Our Way, A Good Long Way

Sofia Quintero: Efrain’s Secret

Lulu Delacre: Golden Tales, Salsa Stories, Shake it Morena!

Kim Flores: Gamma Glamma

Bettina Restrepo: Illegal

Gaby Triana: Riding the Universe, Backstage Pass, The Temptress Four, Cubanita

Alex Sanchez: Boyfriends with Girlfriends, The God Box, Bait, Rainbow High, Rainbow Road, Rainbow Boys, So Hard to Say, Getting It

Matt de la Peña: I Will Save You, We Were Here, Ball Don’t Lie, Mexican Whiteboy

Veronica Chambers: Mama’s Girl, Plus, Marisol and Magdalena, Quinceñera Means Sweet 15

Benjamin Alire Sáenz: Last Night I Sang to the Monster, Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood

Caridad Ferrer: When the Stars Go Blue, Adiós to My Old Life, It’s Not About the Accent

Torrey Maldonado: Secret Saturdays

Iris Gomez: Try to Remember

Viola Canales: The Tequila Worm

Nancy Osa: Cuba 15

Malín Alegría: Estrella’s Quinceñera, Sofi Mendoza’s Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico

Carmen Rodrigues: Not Anything

Michele Serros: Honey Blonde Chica, Scandalosa!

Ofelia Dumas Lachtman: The Trouble with Tessa, Leticia’s Secret, The Truth About Las Mariposas

Juan Felipe Herrera: CrashBoomLove, Cinnamon Girl: Letters Found Inside a Cereal Box, SkateFate

e.E. Charlton-Trujillo: Prizefighter en Mi Casa, Feels Like Home

Agnes Martinez: Poe Park

Maria Colleen Cruz: Border Crossing

Lorraine Lopez: Call Me Henri

David Hernandez: Suckerpunch, No More Us for You

Nico Medina: Straight Road to Kylie, Fat Hoochie Prom Queen

Marisa Montes: A Circle of Time

Diana López: Confetti Girl

Claudia Guadalupe Martinez: The Smell of Old Lady Perfume

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Spotlight on Pam Muñoz Ryan

To celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, I am highlighting an Hispanic author of young adult literature each week. At the end of the month, I will post a list of titles for those of you interested in reading YA novels written by Hispanic authors. I will continue to
chip away at the long list and post about them during the year because–hey, Hispanics should be celebrated year round! :.)

Here’s a link with more information about National Hispanic Heritage Month:

http://hispanicheritagemonth.gov/

And here’s a link for Latina Book Club, a site by Maria Ferrer dedicated to promoting Hispanic authors and literacy.

http://www.latinabookclub.com/

And, today’s YA author in the spotlight is PAM MUÑOZ RYAN. Enjoy!

AUTHOR: (information comes from the author’s website www.pammunozryan.com): Pam Muñoz Ryan  has written over thirty books for young people, from picture books for the very young to young adult novels, including the award winning ESPERANZA RISING, BECOMING NAOMI LEÓN, RIDING FREEDOM, PAINT THE WIND, and THE DREAMER. She is the National Education Association´s Author recipient of the Civil and Human Rights Award, the Virginia Hamilton Award for Multicultural Literature, and is twice the recipient of the Willa Cather Literary Award for writing. She was born and raised in Bakersfield, California, (formerly Pam Bell), received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at San Diego State University, and now lives in North San Diego County with her family.

YA NOVEL: ESPERANZA RISING.

Esperanza Rising

FROM THE BOOK JACKET: Esperanza believed her life would be wonderful forever. She would always live on her family’s ranch in Mexico. She would always have fancy dresses and a beautiful home filled with servants. Papa and Abuelita would always be with her. But a sudden tragedy shatters her world and forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California, where they settle in a camp for Mexican migrant workers. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard labor, financial struggles brought on by the Great Depression, and lack of acceptance she now faces. When Mama gets sick, and a strike for better working conditions threatens to uproot their new life, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances–because Mama’s life and her own depend on it.

MY TWO CENTS: This novel was on my to-read list for a long time. The teachers at my former school read it with their 6th graders, and I had heard a lot about it, but I never got around to reading it myself. I’m glad I finally did. I listened to the audio version of the novel, which can sometimes make or break my experience. The reader was great, and the story was both beautifully written and touching. Muñoz Ryan’s writing has a lyrical quality and her characters are likeable and memorable. The story of Esperanza’s family losing everything and needing to start over was skillfully blended with the historical setting, the Great Depression. Esperanza’s relationship with her mother, her love of the land–a seed planted by her father–and the lovely portrayal of Mexican culture were all high points for me.

LINKS for more information:

Find ESPERANZA RISING on Amazon.com and Goodreads.

 

NEXT UP: The long list of YA novels written by Hispanic authors.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Spotlight on Gary Soto

To celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, I am highlighting an Hispanic author of young adult literature each week. At the end of the month, I will post a list of titles for those of you interested in reading YA novels written by Hispanic authors. I will continue to
chip away at the long list and post about them during the year because–hey, Hispanics should be celebrated year round! :.)

Here’s a link with more information about National Hispanic Heritage Month:

http://hispanicheritagemonth.gov/

And here’s a link for Latina Book Club, a site by Maria Ferrer dedicated to promoting Hispanic authors and literacy.

http://www.latinabookclub.com/

And, today’s YA author in the spotlight is GARY SOTO. Enjoy!

AUTHOR: (information comes from the author’s website www.garysoto.com): Gary Soto, born April 12, 1952, was raised in Fresno, California. His poetry collection for adults, New and Selected Poems, was a 1995 finalist for both the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the National Book Award. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 1997, because of his advocacy for reading, he was featured as NBC’s Person-of-the-Week. In 1999, he received the Literature Award from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, the Author-Illustrator Civil Rights Award from the National Education Association, and the PEN Center West Book Award for Petty Crimes. A prolific writer, Soto has authored picture books, middle grade novels, short stories, poetry for younger readers, YA novels, and books for adults and high school students. Other titles include: ACCIDENTAL LOVE, THE AFTERLIFE, TAKING SIDES, and BASEBALL IN APRIL AND OTHER STORIES.

YA NOVEL: BURIED ONIONS.

Buried Onions

FROM THE BOOK JACKET: All of my life everyone was pulling away from me—Father, my mom, Jesús, school friends, and homies who disappeared in three lines of the obituary column. I could have cried under the heat of Fresno, but it wouldn’t have mattered. My tears would have evaporated before anyone saw my sadness.

Fresno, California, is such a sorrowful place that nineteen-year-old Eddie imagines there must be onions buried underground, their vapors drawing tears from the residents above. Eddie is trying hard to stay out of trouble and make a decent living, but he’s not finding it easy—especially with his aunt urging him to avenge his cousin’s murder. Will Eddie get caught up in the violence he despises? Or can he escape this land of buried onions?

An ALA Best Book for Young Adults

An ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age

MY TWO CENTS: Soto’s talent as a poet with a keen eye for detail and skill for beautiful description is always evident. The buried onion image runs throughout the novel, as Eddie navigates life in a community plagued by gang violence and few real options for a brighter future. Soto writes: “For me, there wasn’t much to do except eat and sleep, watch out for drive-bys, and pace myself through life. I had dropped out of City College, where I was taking classes in air-conditioning. I quit not long after my cousin, mi primo, Jesús got killed.” Eddie struggles to work honestly and ultimately has to decide whether to stay in Fresno or get out by joining the military. While this is a sad tale on many levels, there is hope in Eddie, who refuses to give in or give up.

LINKS for more information:

Find BURIED ONIONS on Amazon.com and Goodreads.

NEXT UP: ESPERANZA RISING by Pam Muñoz Ryan

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Spotlight on Victor Martinez

Today marks the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15-October 15. To celebrate, I set up a book display in my classroom and invited my colleagues to read an Hispanic author this month. So far, no takers, but my school librarian did vow to order more books my Hispanic authors, which was great.

I also plan to highlight Hispanic authors of young adult literature. The list to choose from was long and my time to read is always limited. I didn’t get to as many as I had hoped, but at the end of the month, I will post a list of titles for those of you interested in reading YA novels written by Hispanic authors. I will continue to chip away at the long list and post about them during the year because–hey, Hispanics should be celebrated year round! :.)

Here’s a link with more information about National Hispanic Heritage Month:

http://hispanicheritagemonth.gov/

And here’s a link for Latina Book Club, a site by Maria Ferrer dedicated to promoting Hispanic authors and literacy.

http://www.latinabookclub.com/

And, today’s YA author in the spotlight is VICTOR MARTINEZ. Enjoy!

AUTHOR: (Most of this information came from the HarperCollins website) Victor Martinez, a Mexican-American poet and author, was born and raised in Fresno, California, the fourth in a family of twelve children. He attended California State University at Fresno and Stanford University, and has worked as a field laborer, welder, truck driver, firefighter, teacher, and office clerk. His poems, short stories, and essays have appeared in journals and anthologies. A week before he was nominated for the National Book Award, he read his poetry in public. Six people showed up. Three were his friends. After he won, he was interviewed by national media and his novel made its way into high school curriculums. The $10,000 prize was more than he had made the previous year. Martinez died on Feb. 18, 2011 a few days before his 57th birthday.

YA NOVEL: PARROT IN THE OVEN: MI VIDA

Parrot in the Oven: Mi vidaThis was Martinez’s debut novel and only YA title. He won the 1996 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and the Pura Belpre´Award. The novel was also listed on the Boston Globe-Horn Book Fanfare Honor List and Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of 1996.

FROM THE BOOK JACKET: “Dad believed people were like money. You could be a thousand-dollar person or a hundred-dollar person–even a ten-, five-, or one-dollar person. Below that, everybody was just nickels and dimes. To my dad, we were pennies.”

Fourteen-year-old Manny Hernandez wants to be more than just a penny. He wants to be a vato firme, the kind of guy people respect. But that’s not easy when your father is abusive, your brother can’t hold a job, and your mother scrubs the house as if she can wash her troubles away. In Manny’s neighborhood, the way to get respect is to be in a gang. But Manny’s not sure that joining a gang is the solution. Because, after all, it’s his life–and he wants to be the one to decide what happens to it.

MY TWO CENTS: Martinez’s novel is written as a series of related vignettes, rather than in a traditional narrative arc, and his talent as a poet often shines through. Here’s an example:

When I neared the pharmacy, the sun was knifing a big blue hand through the ghosts of fog, sweeping them away like cobwebs. The maple trees on that street were dreary and weeping moisture, their stripped bark dusted with a glassy talcum of mist. But that, too, was melting. And when the wind came, little sneezes of drizzle sprayed my face.”

The novel’s format and style received some criticism from readers on Goodreads, but I liked both aspects. Manny’s voice is consistently poetic, so I accepted these beautifully written passages as part of the main character’s thought process, even though he is only 14. At times, while reading YA novels, I stop and think, “No teen-ager I know has ever used that word or would ever say that.” But in this case, I didn’t question the narrator’s observations. The writing pulled me in; I believed it was Manny’s voice. As for the vignettes, they were related and chronological for those needing to connect the plot’s dots.

LINKS for more information:

Find PARROT IN THE OVEN: MI VIDA on Amazon.com and Goodreads.

http://missionlocal.org/2011/02/remembering-award-winning-author-victor-martinez/

http://www.libraryjournal.com/slj/home/889629-312/author_poet_victor_martinez_dies.html.csp

http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-victor-martinez-20110303,0,5838556.story

NEXT UP: WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE by Caridad Ferrer

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