“Years before the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez, an eight-year-old girl of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage, played an instrumental role in Mendez v. Westminster, the landmark desegregation case of 1946 in California”–
When her mother wants her to be part of the high society world in their native Puerto Rico, Teresa attends a private school but loses her best friend. All Teresa and her best friend and classmate Ana think about is winning the contest for the Junior Queen and Princess of their town in Ponce, Puerto Rico. But Tere’s mother has different ideas for her only daughter. She wants her to be part of La Sociedad, “high society,” and go to a fancy private school. At first Tere doesn’t want to leave her school friends to follow her mother’s dream. She knows her parents can’t afford the luxuries the rich girls take for granted. But when Tere gets into trouble and has a fight with Ana, she quickly changes her mind. Now she finds herself caught between two worlds.
Perro Viejo was taken away from his mother at birth and has known no other life than that of servitude on a sugar plantation. His name, which means “Old Dog,” was given to him by the plantation master because, like the bloodhounds that chased fugitive slaves, Perro Viejo is always searching for the scent of his long lost mother. The only thing that keeps him alive is the memory of Asunción, a beautiful girl he once met while washing his master’s horses at a river. Never to see her again, he closes his heart to all forms of love. Nearing the end of his life, Perro Viejo meets Beira, an old slave who is avoided by the other slaves because they think she is a witch. She warms Perro Viejo’s heart, and together they hatch a plan to escape from slavery. Young readers join Perro Viejo as he finally learns what it is to love — and to feel free.
Zander and his friends, Kambui, LaShonda, and Bobbi start their own newspaper, The Cruiser, as a means for speaking out, keeping the peace, and expressing what they believe. When the school launches a mock Civil War, Zander and his friends are forced to consider the true meaning of democracy and what it costs to stand up for a cause. The result is nothing they could have expected, and everything they could have hoped for. Zander Scott and his friends, Kambui, LaShonda, and Bobbi are in trouble. Even though they’re students at DaVinci, one of the best Gifted and Talented schools in Harlem, their grades are slipping, and Mr. Culpepper, the Assistant Principal and Chief Executioner, is ready to be rid of them. When the school starts a unit on the Civil War, and kids split up into Union and Confederate sympathizers, Zander and his crew are given a charge to negotiate a peace between both sides before the war actually breaks out. That’s when Zander comes up with the idea to launch an alternative school newspaper called The Cruiser. What he and his friends learn is that their writing has power to keep the peace, but that words can be weapons, too. Soon everyone at DaVinci is forced to consider the true meaning of democracy and what it costs to stand up for a cause.
See the review at WOW Review, Volume 3, Issue 4
Flix, a dog born to cat parents, finds himself able to exist in two cultures, marries a cat, and campaigns for mutual respect between cats and dogs.
The history of Mexican Americans spans more than five centuries and varies from region to region across the United States. Yet most of our history books devote at most a chapter to Chicano history, with even less attention to the story of Chicanas. 500 Years of Chicana Women’s History offers a powerful antidote to this omission with a vivid, pictorial account of struggle and survival, resilience and achievement, discrimination and identity. The bilingual text, along with hundreds of photos and other images, ranges from female-centered stories of pre-Columbian Mexico to profiles of contemporary social justice activists, labor leaders, youth organizers, artists, and environmentalists, among others. With a distinguished, seventeen-member advisory board, the book presents a remarkable combination of scholarship and youthful appeal. In the section on jobs held by Mexicanas under U.S. rule in the 1800s, for example, readers learn about flamboyant DoÃ±a Tules, who owned a popular gambling saloon in Santa Fe, and Eulalia Arrilla de PÃ©rez, a respected curandera (healer) in the San Diego area. Also covered are the “repatriation” campaigns” of the Midwest during the Depression that deported both adults and children, 75 percent of whom were U.S.-born and knew nothing of Mexico. Other stories include those of the garment, laundry, and cannery worker strikes, told from the perspective of Chicanas on the ground. From the women who fought and died in the Mexican Revolution to those marching with their young children today for immigrant rights, every story draws inspiration. Like the editor’s previous book, 500 Years of Chicano History (still in print after 30 years), this thoroughly enriching view of Chicana women’s history promises to become a classic.
Based on a true story of events during World War II in China City, a 12-year-old Chinese American girl named Mei Ling Lee was separated from her best friend Yayeko Akiyama when she and her family were interned in the Manzanar War Relocation Center. By writing letters to each other, both young girls recounted their lives and hardships in China City and Manzanar. This unprecedented children’s book depicts the cross-cultural experiences of Americans of Chinese and Japanese ancestry during the war years.
Duke Kahanamoku was the twentieth century’s top waterman, and is known as the “father of international surfing.” The first Hawaiian to win an Olympic gold medal, Duke represented the United States in the Olympic Games in 1912, 1920, 1924 and 1932, winning gold, silver and bronze medals. Born in 1890, Duke grew up next to the ocean in Waikîkî. After school, he and his sister and brothers would hit the water. “I was only happy when I was swimming like a fish,” Duke said. Duke and the other beach boys gathered under a hau tree in Waikîkî. They rode the waves at Castles, a prime surf spot, on their sixteen-foot solid wooden surfboards. Years of swimming, surfing and canoe paddling made Duke a fine athlete. He had a strong body, long arms, powerful legs and his hands were said to be as big as buckets. Some claimed he had feet as big as fins and could steer a canoe with his feet alone. Duke knew that he was a very fast swimmer and he trained constantly. He said that God had given him a gift and a whip. “The whip,” he said with a grin, “is to flog myself into getting the most out of the gift.” He felt that, just maybe, he could be a champion and win Olympic gold for Hawai‘i. His chance came August 12, 1911, at Alakea Slip in Honolulu Harbor, when he demolished the world amateur record for the 100-yard freestyle. His excitement was crushed when mainland AAU officials refused to believe his time. “What are you using for stopwatches over there in Hawai‘i?” they asked. “Alarm clocks?” The AAU officials doubted that a virtually untrained swimmer could break a world record. It was up to Duke to prove he could go up against the world’s fastest swimmers and beat them. Along with his athletic accomplishments, Duke is remembered for his concern for others, humility in victory, courage in adversity and good sportsmanship.
A young girl growing up in Spanish Harlem in the 1940’s watches the secure world of her childhood years slowly erode away.