My Land Sings: Stories from the Rio Grande
Written by Rudolfo Anaya
Morrow, 1999, 174 pp.
Stories help us understand and appreciate other people, and they hold many valuable lessons. It’s exciting to be transported into the world created by a story. Reading is one of the best ways to stimulate your creativity. I hope you remain a reader all your life (p. 16).
A collection of traditional stories retold with an Anaya twist, My Land Sings gives the reader a taste of the diverse Mexican American culture near the Rio Grande. Lupe and Carlos follow each other on a dare to the edge of the river at midnight to look for la Llorona, “the crying woman.” What they find is more than they had bargained for. A young girl, Dulcinea disobeys her parents to attend a dance with a handsome new stranger that just arrived in her village. When the clock strikes midnight, the stranger’s true identity is revealed and Dulcinea’s life is forever changed. Rolando de Espada travels a long journey in search of the fountain of youth. He searches and searches until his ambition drives him to the Castle of Lost Souls. Will he trade his soul to live forever?
These enchanted folktales are just three of the ten cuentos or stories in the book, which have been heard along the Rio Grande. These cuentos have helped edify generations of the customs and beliefs of the Mexican American culture. Growing up near the Rio Grande myself, I was able to instantly connect while reading these stories. Each cuento brought long lost memories of my own family sitting around the dinner table eagerly listening for the embedded lesson to be learned. My Land Sings remarkably blends the cultures of the “Spanish and Mexican settlers who came to live near the Pueblo Indians of the Rio Grande in 1598”(p. 10). A powerful storytelling feast, this book is appropriately written for children ages nine and up who have experienced the beauty of the rich Mexican American folklore. Each story speaks directly to the reader who is destined to retell and keep them alive from generation to generation.
Rudolfo Anaya is the author of many children’s picture books, non-fiction and anthologies, poetry and plays. Born in the rural village of Pastura, New Mexico, Anaya experienced a humble beginning which provided him with many of the experiences reflected in his writing. Anaya has continued to write and give readers an opportunity to experience rich Hispanic and Native American folklore of the Rio Grande. Readers interested in more children’s books about the Rio Grande could also read, Crazy Loco (David Talbot Rice, 2001) and The Jumping Tree (René Saldana, 2002). Xavier Garza is also another prolific writer who grew up near the Rio Grande and has written and illustrated many works such as Creepy Creatures and Other Cucuys (Xavier Garza 2004), and Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask (Xavier Garza 2005).
Weslaco Independent School District, Weslaco, TX