In a tribute to the customs and traditions of Latinos in the United States, engaging photographs capture four fiestas: the Day of the Dead, las Posadas, the dance of the Matachines, and Three Kings’ Day.
La Acequia del Rito y la Sierra in the Mora Valley is the highest and most famous traditional irrigation system in New Mexico. It carries water up and over a mountain ridge and across a sub-continental divide, from the tributaries of the RÃo Grande to the immense watershed of the Mora, Canadian, Arkansas, and Mississippi Rivers. The names and stories of those who created this acequia to sustain their communities have mostly been lost and replaced by myths and legends. Now, when children ask, some parents attribute the task of moving mountains and changing the course of rivers to Juan del Oso, the stouthearted man whose father was a bear.From the mountains of northern Spain to the Andes in South America, Spanish-speaking people have told ancient legends of Juan del Oso and his friends. In this children’s tale, agriculturalist Juan Estevan Arellano and folklorist Enrique Lamadrid share a unique version of a celebrated story that has been told in northern New Mexico for centuries.Reading level: age 10 years and up
The tradition of los abuelos comes from northern New Mexico. In the cold months of midwinter, village men disappear to disguise themselves as scary old men and then descend on the children, teasing them and asking if they’ve been good. The abuelos encourage the little ones to dance and sing around huge bonfires. Afterwards, everyone enjoys cookies and empanadas. In this charming book, young Ray and Amelia move to a new village and experience the fright and fun of los abuelos for the first time. Amelia Lau Carling researched the region for her vibrant artwork, and author Pat Mora’s lively text captures the appeal of an old-world celebration now being revived.
“Ramiro Lopez and Jake Upthegrove don’t appear to have much in common. Ram lives in the Mexican-American working-class barrio of El Paso called “Dizzy Land.” His brother is sinking into a world of drugs, wreaking havoc in their household. Jake is a rich West Side white boy who has developed a problem managing his anger. An only child, he is a misfit in his mother’s shallow and materialistic world. But Ram and Jake do have one thing in common: They are lost boys who have never met their fathers. This sad fact has left both of them undeniably scarred and obsessed with the men who abandoned them. As Jake and Ram overcome their suspicions of each other, they begin to move away from their loner existences and realize that they are capable of reaching out beyond their wounds and the neighborhoods that they grew up in. Their friendship becomes a healing in a world of hurt.
Cristina Ortega is the granddaughter of Juan Melquiades Ortega, a master weaver of northern New Mexico’s Chimayó Valley. Chimayó’s roots are in early Spanish Colonial times and has long been famous for its unique weavings. Juan M. Ortega was taught to weave by his father in the early days when weavers sheared their own sheep and spun and dyed the wool for their blankets. El Tejedor (The Weaver) continued weaving until he was one hundred years old, when his eyesight failed him. In The Eyes of the Weaver, Cristina shares her memories of visits when she was ten years old with Grandpa in the village of Chimayó, where he taught her how to weave. She also recalls how Grandma helped her husband choose color combinations for his Chimayó blankets. It was during these visits that Cristina learned how important it is for a child to listen to and learn from his or her relatives.Some of Juan M. Ortega’s weavings and tools of the trade have been included in the exhibit, “American Encounters,” at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C.Reading level: 10 years and up
When Toots Rodriguez approaches Mickey on the playground, he knows something is up. Toots, the prettiest girl in the fifth grade, never talks to Mickey, not even when they’re assigned to work together on a class project. But Toots has come to Mickey because she’s in trouble, and he’s a detective. The real deal. He has a badge and a certificate after completing an online course two years ago. ”You have to believe me, Mickey. I didn’t take that pen. I didn’t.” When Toots shines her big green eyes on him and insists repeatedly that she’s innocent, Mickey’s intuition tells him to run fast in the opposite direction. But he’s a sucker for a pretty girl, so he takes on the case of the missing pen. Rumor has it that Toots stole Eddy’s pen. It’s not just any old pen; it’s his dad’s pen. It has the White House logo on it. Eddy’s father, a senator from South Texas, got the pen from the President of the United States when he visited the White House last year. As Mickey begins his investigation, though, all the clues point to Toots and her newly ex-boyfriend as the primary suspects. The first book in The Mickey Rangel Mystery series for intermediate readers, author and educator Rene Saldana, Jr. has crafted another appealing book for kids, and his wise-cracking, smart protagonist will appeal to even the most reluctant readers.
On the eve of World War II, young Alejandro comes of age on his family’s South Texas farm, known as Chicken Foot Farm because of how his mother marks her chicks. “Mama held the chick against her breast and splayed its left foot between her thumb and index finger. With her free hand she… quickly cut off the end of the chick’s shortest toe.” Rich with the customs and traditions of rural, Mexican-American life, Chicken Foot Farm depicts a multi-generational family in flux as change crawls relentlessly toward their land and lifestyle. As the seasons–and loved ones–come and go and misfortunes befall the family, Alejandro learns the lessons of life: the importance of family, honesty, hard work, and compassion. When the kitchen burns down one night, Alejandro feels they have lost something integral to their family unity. But his father promises they will build another kitchen, the new one better than the old. As Abuela Luciana ages, she begins to behave erratically, burning tortillas, forgetting to add water to the beans she is cooking, and even disappearing from the farm. She is certain someone has cursed her–put mal de ojo on her. How can the family cure her when she is the curandera, the one who has always taken care of them? Most importantly, Alejandro works hard to win his father’s approval, even though Papa generally ignores him in favor of the eldest son, Ernesto, who Papa says will inherit the farm. When Ernesto joins the Army, the family must face the possibility that he may not return as the entire country is thrown into the uncertainty of war. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, young Alejandro notices something new in his family’s kitchen: a framed United States flag now hangs on the wall. “It’s something I can do for the war,” his Abuela Luciana tells him. Not understanding, she explains to him, “I can remind people that we are Americans.” In these poignant images of a time and place long gone, Anne Estevis sketches a tight-knit, Mexican-American community on the cusp of a new way of life as tractors replace mules and modern science competes with superstitious beliefs.