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Literary Arts Biographies for Young Readers and Writers

Celeste Trimble, St. Martin’s University, Lacey, WA

Cover of Sounds and Silences, depicting two trees, one drawn realistically and one drawn abstractly.When I was fourteen, I loved poetry. I always loved it, having grown up on a steady diet of recited nursery rhymes and children’s poetry like A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. But something happened in junior high school: The anthology, Sounds and Silences: Poetry for Now, edited by Richard Peck. I loved that it included song lyrics by Woody Guthrie, Leonard Cohen and The Beatles–verses I recognized. What I really loved about this book was that it was my introduction to writers who shaped and continue to shape how I think about the world, my life and the lives around me. “The Rebel” by Mari E. Evans was practically an anthem for the duration of my adolescence. Langston Hughes, e e cummings, Dylan Thomas, this book was my introduction to modern poetry. But, most importantly, it was my introduction to Gwendolyn Brooks. Continue reading

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MTYT: Drum Dream Girl

By Jean Schroeder, Holly Johnson, Prisca Martens, Mary Fahrenbruck, Tracy Smiles, Jeanne Fain, Rebecca Ballenger, and Celeste Trimble

This year, the Tucson Festival of Books celebrates its 10th anniversary. In a short period of time, the festival rose to become the third largest book festival in the U.S. drawing crowds in excess of 130,000. Each year the festival hosts 60-70 authors and illustrators of books for children and adolescents. This month My Take/Your Take features four books by this year’s festival authors to provide a personal take, starting with Jean and Holly on Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle and Rafael López.

Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: All the Way to Havana

All the Way to Havana by Margarita EngleThe colorful picturebook, All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle with illustrations by Mike Curato, is set in modern day Cuba. It focuses on a family celebration and how Cuban resourcefulness keeps American cars from the 1950s running. A boy narrates the trip his family takes from the country to Havana in their precious old car, Cara Cara, a 1954 Chevy. Before they can take off, Papa and his son have to fix the car. They try and try to fix the silly noises. “The rattling parts have ben fixed with wire, tape and mixed-up scraps of dented metal.” Finally, “Cara Cara once again begins to sound like a chattering hen!” Continue reading

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MTYT: Lion Island

For this final conversation around “Rethinking conceptual otherness in history: Exploring untold histories in the U.S. and global communities,” Michele Ebersole and Yoo Kyung Sung give their takes on Lion Island: Cuba’s Warrior of Words by Margarita Engle. They began the discussion with A Diamond in the Desert by Kathryn Fitzmaurice, Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxua and Gaijin: American Prisoner of War by Matt Faulkner.

Lion Island by Margarita Engle Continue reading

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Diversity within Children’s and Young Adolescent Latino Literature: Afro-Caribbean and Indigenous Communities

by Carmen M. Martínez-Roldán & Richelle Jurasek

PanamaCanalThis week we continue our focus on Afro-Caribbean influences in Latino children’s literature but also start addressing Indigenous perspectives. Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal, another historical fiction novel by Cuban-American author Margarita Engle, offers a window into the experiences of Caribbean islander workers but also into the experiences of indigenous communities Continue reading

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Diversity within Children’s and Young Adolescent Latino Literature: Afro-Latinos and Afro-Caribbean communities, Part II

by Carmen M. Martínez-Roldán & Amy Olson

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The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano, by Margarita Engle (2006)

Last week, we started featuring and commenting on literature that represents the experiences of Afro-Latinos and Afro-Caribbean communities Continue reading