[book review + giveaway] Somos como las nubes/We Are Like the Clouds by Jorge Argueta and Alfonso Ruano

“Like the clouds, like dreams, our children come and go. Nothing and no one can stop them.” ~ Jorge Argueta

Immigration is certainly one of the most contentious issues and complex humanitarian challenges facing our country today.

When you hear the word “immigrant,” what kind of mental image pops into your head? Do you picture a destitute Syrian refugee, an adult male attempting to smuggle drugs across the border, or maybe a stereotypical Spanish speaking person in a service-oriented job?

Often when I drive to the library I see a group of young Hispanic males waiting by the side of the road hoping to be picked up for a day’s labor paid for in cash. I wonder about where they came from, how they’re coping, whether their families are intact.

Though I often hear a lot about “undocumented immigrants,” the plight of “unaccompanied immigrant children” wasn’t something I seriously considered until I read Jorge Argueta’s new bilingual poetry book, Somos como las nubes/We Are Like the Clouds (Groundwood Books, 2016).

 

Continue reading

hotTEAs of Children’s Literature: Duncan Tonatiuh

Duncan Tonatiuh is an award-winning author-illustrator. His work is inspired by the ancient art of Mexico, particularly that of the Mixtec codex. His aim is to create images and stories that honor the past, but that are relevant to children nowadays. (Pictured here with his 9-month-old daughter Vida.)

 

☕ CUPPA OF CHOICE:  Green Tea

☕ HOT OFF THE PRESS: Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras (Abrams, 2015) and Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation (Abrams, 2014). Forthcoming: The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes (Abrams, October 2016) and Esquivel!: Space-Age Sound Artist, written by Susan Wood (Charlesbridge, September 2016).

 

☕ FAVE FOODIE CHILDREN’S BOOK: Salsa: Un poema para cocinar/A Cooking Poem, written by Jorge Argueta (Groundwood Books, 2015).

Visit Duncan Tonatiuh’s Official Website

☕☕ JUST ONE MORE SIP: Check out this video where Duncan expresses thanks for the Sibert Medal and Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor he was awarded earlier this year for Funny Bones.

*

☕☕☕ CAN’T GET ENOUGH: Duncan chats with Viviana Hurtado from last summer’s Lunchtime Author Google Hangout. He talks about Funny Bones, how he got his first book contract with Abrams, and shares thoughts about creating diverse books for young readers in today’s publishing climate.

*

☕☕☕☕ STILL THIRSTY: More Vida cuteness!

——————————————————

Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

hotTEAs of Children’s Literature: René Colato Laínez

René Colato Laínez is an award winning Salvadoran author of many multicultural books. He is a graduate of the Vermont College MFA program in Writing for Children & Young Adults. René is a bilingual elementary teacher at Fernangeles Elementary School, where he is known by the students as “the teacher full of stories.” He lives in Los Angeles.</em.

 

☕ CUPPA OF CHOICE: Hot chocolate.

☕ HOT OFF THE PRESS: ¡Vámonos! Let’s Go! illustrated by Joe Cepeda, (Holiday House, Fall 2015).

☕ FAVE FOODIE CHILDREN’S BOOK: Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto (J. P. Putnam’s, 1993)All of Jorge Argueta’s un poema para cocinar (cooking poem) books: Sopa de frijoles/Bean Soup (2009), Arroz con leche/Rice Pudding (2010), Guacamole (2012), Tamalitos (2013), Salsa (2015).

☕ hotTEA IN THE FLESH:

VI Festival internacional de poesía infantil “Manyula”del 16 al 20 de noviembre de 2015 en la Biblioteca Nacional “Francisco Gavidia”, El Salvador.

VI International Children’s Poetry Festival “Manyula”, November 16-20, at the National Library “Francisco Gavidia,” El Salvador.

☕ Visit René Colato Laínez’s Official Website

☕☕ JUST ONE MORE SIP:

Hot Chocolate Poem

Uno, dos, tres cho
Uno, dos, tres co
Uno, dos, tres la
Uno, dos, tres te
chocolate, chocolate
bate, bate el chocolate

One, two, three cho
One, two, three co
One, two, three la
One, two, three te
chocolate, chocolate
stir, stir the chocolate

——————————————————————

Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

friday feast: Chatting with Julie Paschkis about Flutter & Hum/Aleteo y Zumbido (+ a giveaway!)

Several years ago, in order to illustrate Monica Brown’s Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People (Henry Holt, 2011), Julie Paschkis immersed herself in Neruda’s poetry and took Spanish language classes.

She fell in love with Spanish, its sounds and structure. Already a lover of words, she found these new words both interesting and fascinating, so much so, that she incorporated them in her paintings to stunning effect. She had created her own brand of visual poetry inspired by Neruda’s words.

Her love affair with the language didn’t end with that book. As one thing can sometimes beautifully lead to another, Julie discovered that her unfamiliarity with Spanish freed her to write poetry. The fourteen free verse animal poems in Flutter & Hum/Aleteo y Zumbido (Henry Holt, 2015) were first written in Spanish, then translated by Julie into English. And as she did with the Neruda book, she added words inspired by the poems to her illustrations.

In this exquisite tapestry of three languages — Spanish, English, and Art — we are treated to Julie’s charming insights and observations of creatures inhabiting land, sea and air, inviting us to appreciate them in new and surprising ways. Did you ever wonder what a turtle might be hiding in her shell?

TURTLE

The turtle hides
in her shell.
But maybe there is space,
a place
for hidden treasure.
Just for pleasure
she could put an emerald
and a ruby or two
there.

When she walks
she listens to the rattle of the gemstones.
That is why she goes so slowly —
she doesn’t want to spill
her secrets.

*

LA TORTUGA

La tortuga se esconde
en su caparazón.
Tal vez hay un vacío,
un espacio
para un tesoro escondido.
Sólo por gusto
la tortuga podría meter
una esmeralda y unos rubís
allí.

Cuando anda
escucha el traqueteo del tesoro.
Por eso ella anda lentamente —
para no deja caer
sus secretos.

And the snake? He writes “a slippery poem/with his body . . . He only knows one letter: ssssssssss.” There’s also a whale that dances “In a dazzle of bubbles.” Sheer delight!

The poems vary in mood from playful (a dog’s wagging tail “fans wild happiness/into the wild world”) to peaceful and evocative (“Out of the darkness/an owl hoots./An echo./The night train/is leaving”) to ethereal (“I am a fish in the sea of dreams”).

I really love the CAT:

Fat cat
naps on a map.
When she gets up
s  h  e     s  t  r  e  t  c  h  e  s
from Arequipa to Zanzibar
and her belly bumps  Topolobampo.
Elastic cat.

*

LA GATA

La gata gorda
se duerme en un mapa.
Cuando se levanta
s e    e s t i r a
desde Arequipa hasta Zanzibar
y su barriga choca contra  Topolobampo.
La gata elástica.

Isn’t ‘Topolobampo’ the best word ever? Even if we didn’t know it’s a city in Mexico, we get a good sense of how the cat’s moving in that winsome alliterative line, so much fun to read aloud. Flutter and Hum truly celebrates words, languages, and instinctual creative expression. It certainly contributes to our appreciation of how and where poems might emerge, and it’s fun to imagine Julie playing with both Spanish and English and exploring some of the magical places in between.

As someone who loves hand lettering, I fairly swooned over Julie’s gorgeous paintings. As words slither on long blades of grass, swirl in the ripples of pond water, ride atop the backs of crows (“crass/brash,” “craven/crooked,” “brujo/brusco”), float in clouds, adorn both halves of a juicy strawberry (“fresh, blush, ripe, giddy, gozo, julio, frivolo”), and stream in dark ocean waves (“nightfall, fill, flow, flung, luna, lustra, bunco, oscuro”), we hear these juicy words spark and sing, bask in their collective serenade, feel the heart quicken. Her careful choice of words, as well as how they are paired or juxtaposed, creates a new energy, another poetic revelation.

Readers will also enjoy the little touches of humor: the parrot is “cheery, cheeky, beaky,” the whale, “buoyant”/”oh boy,” and that irresistible cat,  “now/then,” “here/there.” Surprise gifts in the fine details, a veritable feast of words. Perfecto!

I know you’ll enjoy hearing more from Julie herself, and we thank her for visiting today, and for creating this treasure of a book. Perhaps the turtle should stash a copy in her shell? 🙂

Continue reading