Family Pictures/Cuadros de Familia
Written by Carmen Lomas Garza
Children’s Book Press, 1990, 32 pp.
ISBN 13: 978-0892392063
I since I was 13 years old that I wanted to be an artist. And all those things that I dreamed of doing as an artist, I’m finally doing now. (p.30)
This bilingual book, based on Carmen Lomas Garza’s life, includes illustrations painted from the author’s memories of growing up in Kingsville, Texas. Every page is a different painting showing a piece of her childhood along with a written description of childhood memories. Many of the illustrations depict the family spending time gathering food, cooking and eating and include memories, such as going to her grandparent’s house, and family traditions, such as acting out the story of Mary and Joseph during the Christmas season. Each painting focuses on a different aspect of traditional Mexican American culture. In Family Pictures, the artist’s paintings demonstrate tales of her childhood and, by extension, the childhoods of numerous people who grew up during this period in South Texas. Garza provides a vital linkage to an earlier period that natives of this region are familiar with and rarely see in children’s books. Due to the popularity of her books, entire generations of children have been introduced to Mexican American culture.
Family Pictures is a heart-warming book that engages children ages 6-12 as well as people of all ages. It informs readers about Mexican American families and how they enjoy spending time together. Personally speaking as Mexican American individuals who were born and raised in Texas, Garza’s family reminds us of authentic elements in our own Mexican American families and the traditions we experienced and believe in. It is a book about a family working together and having fun together. Other books that share the Mexican American culture include The First Tortilla: A Bilingual Story (Rudolpho Anaya, 2007) and Too Many Tamales (Gary Soto, 1996), as well as In My Family/En mi familia by Carmen Lomas Garza (2000). Readers interested in books about families could also read Family (Isabel Monk, 2001) and The Family Book (Todd Parr, 2003).
Carmen Lomas Garza is an artist who has had numerous individual exhibitions and group exhibitions of her paintings over the past 20 years all over the United States. She grew up in south Texas close to the Mexican border and was raised in the Mexican American culture surrounded by her family. Garza has become one of the most famous Chicana artists because of her focus on family and the cultural activities that connect to the lives of so many Mexican American families.
University of Texas Pan-American, Edinburg, TX