Itzel And The Ocelot

A gorgeous picture book inspired by a traditional Central American Indigenous story about a snake with the power to bring the rain, told in lyrical language and evocative art, and subtly conveying an environmental theme.
Itzel listens as her nana tells the story of when the giant snake would be awakened from its sleep: “And first with a whisper that would rustle the leaves, and then with a deep thunderous cry, the giant snake would bring the arrival of the rainy season.” But now, since many no longer believe in the snake, her nana says, “It has returned to the place where the water is born.” Now, Itzel and her nana are desperate for rain to water their bone-dry crops. So Itzel decides she must find and awaken the snake herself. She sets out in the night alone, but soon she is joined by an ocelot, and a bevy of other jungle creatures in need of the rain. And Itzel worries, is she leading them on a fruitless journey?

El Niño De Maíz/ The Boy Of Maize

In a land where the yellow jaguar lives and the sun rises behind green mountains, “the earth was filled with joy” when Balam, the boy of maize, was born. He climbed on top of a big, blue turtle, and along with an assortment of other animals, began the journey to the village. Excited to spread the word about the child’s birth, the creatures worked together–each utilizing its special skills–in perfect harmony with Mother Earth. The turtle walked so slowly that he sent the louse ahead to give the good news to the townspeople. But the louse fell asleep in the road, so the toad swallowed him and said, “I will take you with the message.” The toad, exhausted from taking big leaps, was swallowed by the snake, and the snake, unable to cross the river, was swallowed by the hawk. When the bird flew into the village, the louse delivered the message, but long days and nights passed and still the boy did not arrive! Would the great turtle be able to deliver the special boy?

Viento, Vientito/ Wind, Little Wind

My name is Wind / but everyone knows me / as Little Wind.” In this beautiful, poetic ode to the refreshing but sometimes dangerous force of wind, award-winning children’s book author Jorge Argueta describes–in English, Spanish and Nahuat–the power of air from the perspective of a mischievous youngster.

The Shadow Crosser

Zane Obispo has been looking forward to his training at the Shaman Institute for Higher Order Magic, and not only because it means he’ll be reunited with his best friend, Brooks. Anything would be better than how he has spent the last three months: searching for the remaining godborns with a nasty demon who can sniff them out (literally). But when Zane tracks down the last kid on his list, he’s in for a surprise: the “one” is actually a pair of twins, and they’re trying to prevent a mysterious object from falling into the wrong hands.

With A Star In My Hand: Rubén Darío, Poetry Hero

A novel in verse about the life and work of Ruben Dario, a Nicaraguan poet who started life as an abandoned child and grew to become the father of a new literary movement. Includes historical notes.

The Honey Jar

The Honey Jar retells the ancient stories Rigoberta Menchú’s grandparents told her when she was a little girl, and we can imagine her listening to them by the fire at night. These Mayan tales include natural phenomena narratives and animal stories. The underworld, the sky, the sun and moon, plants, people, animals, gods, and demigods are all players in these vibrant stories. Enchanting images by Domi draw on the Mayan landscape and the rich visual vocabulary that can be found in the weavings and crafts for which the Maya are renowned.

Caravan To The North: Misael’s Long Walk

This novel in verse is a powerful first-person account of Misael Martinez, a Salvadoran boy whose family joins the caravan heading north to the United States. We learn all the different reasons why people feel the need to leave the hope that lies behind their decision, but also the terrible sadness of leaving home. We learn about how far and hard the trip is, but also about the kindness of those along the way. Finally, once the caravan arrives in Tijuana, Misael and those around him are relieved. They think they have arrived at the goal of the trip — to enter the United States. But then tear gas, hateful demonstrations, force and fear descend on these vulnerable people. The border is closed. The book ends with Misael dreaming of El Salvador. This beautiful and timely story is written in simple but poetic verse by Jorge Argueta, the award-winning author of Somos como las nubes / We Are Like the Clouds. Award-winning Mexican illustrator Manuel Monroy illuminates Misael’s journey. An author’s note is included, along with a map showing the caravan’s route.

The Other Side: Stories Of Central American Teen Refugees Who Dream Of Crossing The Border

Every year, thousands of migrant children and teens cross the U.S.-Mexico border. The journey is treacherous and sometimes deadly, but worth the risk for migrants who are escaping gang violence and poverty in their home countries. And for those refugees who do succeed? They face an immigration process that is as winding and multi-tiered as the journey that brought them here. In this book, award-winning Mexican author Juan Pablo Villalobos strings together the diverse experiences of eleven real migrant teenagers, offering readers a beginning road map to issues facing the region. These timely accounts of courage, sacrifice, and survival―including two fourteen-year-old girls forming a tenuous friendship as they wait in a frigid holding cell, a boy in Chicago beginning to craft his future while piecing together his past in El Salvador, and cousins learning to lift each other up through angry waters―offer a rare and invaluable window into the U.S.–Central American refugee crisis. In turns optimistic and heartbreaking, The Other Side balances the boundless hope at the center of immigration with the weight of its risks and repercussions. Here is a necessary read for young people on both sides of the issue.