Children Respond to Xavier Garza’s Books

by Janine M. Schall, University of Texas-Pan America, Edinburg, TX

In previous posts I talked with author Xavier Garza about his books for children. I’d like to share more children’s responses to Xavier’s work in this bonus post. I’d also like to ask other teachers and librarians to share by commenting here how they have used multicultural literature with their students. How do students respond to multicultural literature? How do teachers and librarians facilitate this response?

Angie Hilton read Zulema and the Witch Owl with her fourth grade students in Alamo, Texas. Her students then created an artistic response. I’ve included some of their work in this slide show:

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"Is the Chupacabras Real?" Xavier Garza Answers Questions from Children

by Janine M. Schall, University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, TX

On this fifth Monday of November, we continue our focus on children’s author Xavier Garza. In this post, Xavier answers questions from 2nd and 3rd grade students at Ynes B. Escobar Elementary in Roma, Texas. Student questions were video taped and transcribed. Xavier’s responses follow the transcription.

Mr. Xavier Garza, what gave you the idea to write the storyJuan and the Chupacabra? Like were you looking around and something gave you the idea?

Xavier: The idea came to me from my childhood memories. When I was little my cousins and I would pretend to hunt for monsters in the fields found in the back of our grandfather’s house. We would hunt for everything from La Llorona to the Chupacabras, but we never did catch any of them.
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Interview with Xavier Garza, Part 4

by Janine M. Schall, University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, TX

This is the last of a four part interview with author and illustrator Xavier Garza, 2005 América’s Award Honor Book winner. This interview was conducted electronically by Janine Schall.

The luchador "El Toro" from Lucha Libre-The Man in the Silver Mask

The luchador "El Toro" from Lucha Libre-The Man in the Silver Mask

Janine: The illustrations in your books are striking and attractive to kids. Juan and the Chupacabras was illustrated by someone else. Was that a publisher’s decision? Were you able to collaborate with April Ward or was she given your text to work with on her own?

Xavier:That was strictly the publisher’s decision. At the time that I got the contract for Juan and the Chupacabras, my book Lucha Libre still hadn’t come out. I was viewed as not having any experience in the field of children’s book illustrations, which I have to admit is very different from just being able to draw and paint. A lot of work goes into producing these illustrations, and you have to learn to work with art editors. Making illustrations for a book isn’t a one person show. After Lucha Libre came out and received very favorable reviews for the art as well as the story, it opened the door for me to ask to illustrate all of my own books. Zulema and the Witch Owl was also done with Arte Público, and featured my own illustrations. I love my book Juan and the Chupacabras, but I would be lying if I said that I don’t wish that I had done the illustrations myself. I however must say that April Ward did a wonderful job working on the book. Her art alongside the sketches done by Felipe Davalos who was the original illustrator of the book, but who had to drop out of the project due to scheduling complications, were truly beautiful. I have never met April Ward, and this isn’t uncommon when it comes to an author and an illustrator working on a book. They are often kept apart so as to give the illustrator more freedom to turn the writer’s vision into his or her own.
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Interview with Xavier Garza, Part 3

by Janine M. Schall, University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, TX

This is the third of a four part interview with author and illustrator Xavier Garza, 2005 América’s Award Honor Book winner. This interview was conducted electronically by Janine Schall.

Janine: All of your picture books are English/Spanish bilingual. What made you decide to write bilingual books?

Xavier: I am a firm believer in the advantages that come from being able to speak more that one language. While I agree that everyone should learn English, I see no reason to give up the tongue of your ancestors. I disagree with those who spout an English only point of view. I find it silly that they would seek to portray an individual’s ability to be bilingual as being something bad. They forget that America isn’t composed of just one culture; she is a varied and diverse nation that is made up of many, many different tongues, traditions and ideas. She is forever changing, never staying constant for too long.

Janine: It’s lovely to hear such a strong defense of bilingualism — even here in the Valley I sometimes hear teachers denigrating Spanish. I imagine that growing up in Rio Grande City it would be difficult not to be bilingual, but was that something that your family and/or schools supported? I noticed that you don’t do your own translations for your books. Why is that?
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Interview with Xavier Garza, Part 2

by Janine M. Schall, University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, TX

La Lechuza comes after naughty children, illustrated by Garza

La Lechuza comes after naughty children, illustrated by Garza

This is the second of a four part interview with author and illustrator Xavier Garza, 2005 América’s Award Honor Book winner. This interview was conducted electronically by Janine Schall.

Janine: A number of your books deal with traditional, folkloric aspects of Hispanic culture such as the Chupacabras and La Lechuza. Why do these characters keep recurring in your writing? Why do you think children enjoy these figures so much?

Xavier: We love our Cucuys. We love to be scared. Continue reading

Interview with Author Xavier Garza

by Janine M. Schall, University of Texas-Pan Amercian, Edinburg, TX

This is the first of a four part interview with Xavier Garza, author of several children’s books, including Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask, 2005 América’s Award Honor Book. Xavier was born and raised in Rio Grande City, a small town on the Texas/Mexico border. His work draws upon the cultural and linguistic influences of life in the Rio Grande Valley. Xavier now lives in San Antonio with his wife and son. This interview was conducted electronically.

Janine: Thank you for taking the time to discuss your work. The teachers I work with were very excited when I told them that I would be interviewing you. Living in the Rio Grande Valley, your books resonate with them. You grew up in the border town of Rio Grande City. How does the place and culture of your childhood affect your writing?
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