Lowriders in Space

author: Cathy Camper
illustrator: Raúl the Third (González) 
Chronicle Books (2014)
grades 4-up 
Mexican American
  
In Camper’s and González’s hilarious graphic novel, three amigos—a mammal, an insect and a cephalopod—embark on a loopy, out-of-this-world adventure in an all-encompassing display of friendship and species diversity in which everyone speaks Caló.

The three, who live together and work at a car dealership six days a week, are the protagonists in the fastest, wildest hyperbole-driven story in the world. “Mechanic extraordinaire” Lupe Impala is “the finest mechanic south of Vacaville.” Ace car polisher El Chavo Flapjack Octopus wields “the wettest washcloth north of the Salton Sea.” And “the best detail artist around” is a mosquito named Elirio Malaría (“Don’t be scared, eses! Only lady mosquitos bite vatos for food!”).

They don’t have a cent, but they have big hearts, big ambitions and big dreams. They dream of having their own garage where they could build their own car: a lowrider that hips and hops, dips and drops. A lowrider that is low and slow—bajito y suavecito. One day, they see an announcement about a (literally) “universal car competition,” in which the “most mechanically inventive, exquisitely detailed cosmic car wins!” First prize is a solid gold steering wheel and a carload of cash—more than enough to fulfill all their dreams! But all they have is “the start of a car, the shell of a car. It was already low and slow, so slow it didn’t even go.”

After an uproarious, fast-paced intergalactic adventure involving at least one fart joke, the three have built a lowrider extraordinaire—bajito y suavecito—adorned with rockets and planets and stars and a tiny “burro-corn” on the front. They “cruised back to earth (with cinto de Orion on the roof), the milky way coated their car, stars stuck to the paint job like glittering dandelion fluff, (and) the Big Dipper gleamed from their license plate.” Their lowrider is, as one of the judges exclaims, “retro-nuevo cool.”

A note about the illustrations: After studying traditional Chicana/o art for many years, graphic artist Raúl the Third took the leap and returned to his cultural roots. For Lowriders in Space, his media became the time-honored red, blue and black Bic® pens, on what appears to be used brown paper grocery bags but is actually paper stained with Nescafé Suave. In this complementary partnership between author and artist, crosshatched, stamped and spiraled patterns mix with papeles picados, the characters change size and form according to the needs of the story, asteroids become pom-poms for the windshield, and the planet Pluto is transformed into a gearshift knob.

Teasing the reader, González’s dizzying graphic references fly by. Here is Flapjack, wearing a Chavo hat (of course), sitting in his bucket, blowing bubbles (as octopi do), except he’s blowing soap bubbles. Here, leaning against a wall in his super-cool posture, is Elirio, a Zoot suit-wearing mosquito with a Cantínflas mustache. Here are dust bunnies that are literally bunnies. Here are the Cartínflas garage and Sapo Bell taquería. Here—if you look really carefully—you’ll see Cheech and Chong. And here are our homies in the background careening down a hill on a handmade, fire-spewing, big-tired bike; while an aged, sombrero-wearing, serape-clad Pluto makes a token appearance. We see him sitting next to a nopal cactus, rather than leaning against it—as if to say, “adiós, tired old comic book stereotypes, y ¿qué tal? cool new graphic novel vatos.”

For children, Camper’s uproarious story and González’s over-the-top artwork together encourage development of imagination and appropriate suspension of disbelief. Chicana/o children in particular will appreciate the cultural and linguistic references that have deeper meanings for them. As well, children who are not Chicana/o (and even those who do not speak or understand Spanish) will enjoy the story’s fast pacing and great good humor, and may learn new things as well. The story also works for teens and adults, who will “get” some of the smart and funny references and nuanced word play on just about every page that younger readers might miss. (Such as the great Mexican comedian, Cantínflas, morphing into “Cartínflas,” the name of the garage; and the Mexican sitcom, “El Chavo del Ocho,” into “El Chavo Flapjack Octopus.”)

Camper’s glossary, explaining Spanish, Spanglish, Aztec and Caló references, words and phrases, along with technical and scientific info, is a hoot as well. Take, for instance, “holy mole*,” where the asterisk leads to a lengthy explanation of a “thick Mexican sauce for meat made of many ingredients, including peppers and chocolate.”

No less important is that an aspect of “diversity” modeled here—one that often escapes authors and publishers—is group, rather than individual, problem solving. No fake “multiculturalism” here. No tokenism. No ethnic overlays. Lowriders in Space is the real thing, and it’s hilarious. And it’s highly recommended.

—Beverly Slapin
(published 11/22/16)

Finding the Music / En pos de la música

author: Jennifer Torres
illustrator: Renato Alarcão
translator: Alexis Romay 
Children’s Book Press / Lee & Low, 2015 
grades 1-4 
Mexican American

Mariachi has always has been a part of la música de mi familia, la música de mi gente.

When I was a little girl, my mom used to sing in the kitchen all the time. The window from the kitchen faced the front of the house, so I’d hear her as I was coming home from school. She would sing corridos and mariachi songs and all kinds of Mexican music. Sometimes she’d sing with the radio and sometimes she’d sing a cappella. I loved her songs; they always made me feel connected to my culture. We grew up listening to that music, and we have a heartfelt reaction whenever we hear it.

So when I received Finding the Music / En pos de la música to review for De Colores, I was looking forward to reading a culturally rich bilingual story about mariachi—the music itself, the people who perform, and the Raza community in whose hearts the music lives.

On the surface, the story is endearing: A pre-teen girl accidentally breaks a beloved family heirloom. She goes around town looking for some way to fix it before her mom finds out what she has done. When the girl figures out that fixing it will take a long time, she decides to fess up to her mom, who forgives her.

But the problems are in the cultural details—or rather, lack of them.

On the cover, we see young Reyna, wearing a sombrero de charro and holding a vihuela. One of her hands is on the struts and the other is on the base of the instrument. Although there are visual allusions to music emanating from her guitar, she is not playing the instrument.

Reyna’s mamá runs a popular Mexican restaurant. It’s noisy. My experience with noise in a Mexican restaurant is usually because of very loud music, and people have to talk over the music in order to have a conversation and be heard. Here, there’s no music and everyone seems to be shouting and arguing, which is what bothers Reyna. I just don’t see that in a restaurant.

Reyna sits in a booth reading, and, one day, frustrated by the noise, she throws her book in the air, knocking down her abuelito’s vihuela, which had been hanging on the wall. I can’t believe that, while everyone else sees and hears the vihuela crash to the floor “with a loud thud,” Reyna’s mother doesn’t come running out of the kitchen.

When Reyna sees her abuelito’s broken vihuela, she remembers:

Reyna had never heard Abuelito play the vihuela, but every night at bedtime Mamá described the Mexican folk songs he had performed. She said the music was like an old friend, taking your hand and pulling you onto the floor.

Why would Reyna’s mamá tell her about the music but doesn’t play it or sing it? If this were a real story about mariachi music, the family would feel the loss of Abuelito’s music, but it doesn’t seem like Reyna knows about the music at all. I find it hard to believe that a child who comes from a mariachi family and whose family owns a Mexican restaurant would not regularly be exposed to mariachi music. Rather, the mother seems more connected to the vihuela hanging on the wall than to the actual mariachi music and culture. And I question the lack of interaction back from Reyna to her mamá, such as: “Take me to see the mariachi,” or “let’s listen to the music.”

Reyna desperately tries to find someone who will help her fix her abuelito’s broken vihuela before her mamá finds out what she’s done.

Don Antonio, who runs a hardware store, can’t fix the vihuela, but he gives Reyna an old photo of her abuelito and his mariachi conjunto. “This was at my wedding,” Don Antonio says. “None of us had much money then, so instead of a gift, your abuelito and his mariachis played for us.”

This makes no cultural sense. Hiring a mariachi conjunto to play at a wedding would cost a lot of money. Reyna’s abuelito and his mariachi conjunto’s playing at their friend’s wedding was not instead of a gift, it was their gift.

Reyna’s school’s music teacher can’t fix the vihuela either, but she gives her what Reyna calls “an old hat”—actually, a sombrero de charro—originally, a gift from Reyna’s abuelito. Señor Marcos, at his shop called Adelita Music Shop (named for La Adelita, the Mexican revolutionary?), can fix the vihuela, but it will take some time, so he gives Reyna an old recording of her abuelito’s mariachi music. The recording is Cielito Lindo, which also happens to be the name of her mamá’s restaurant. So Reyna goes back to the restaurant, tells her mamá what happened, and shows her all the stuff she’s been given. At dinnertime, she puts on the record, and they dance, “laughing and spinning,” to Cielito Lindo, which is hardly a spinning song. The End.

All of these superficial cultural icons—vihuela, photograph, sombrero de charro, and recording—appear to be an attempt to place a thin veneer of Raza culture where there actually is none reflected in the story.

Alarcão’s acrylic illustrations are a shallow depiction of the culture as well. The restaurant is devoid of anything Mexican, except for a stereotypical collection of icons on a wall—there’s the vihuela, a Día de los Muertos skeleton mariachi, a papel picado of three skulls, a luchador near a Virgen de Guadalupe, a folklórico dancer, and two pictures of men in sombreros.

While Alarcão draws some of the characters realistically, he caricatures others, such as two rough looking guys loudly arguing, and a young Black woman with hair that looks like strips of brown construction paper have been pasted onto her head. 

In addition, the art appears to be at odds with the story. For instance, while the cover shows Reyna holding her abuelito’s vihuela, the story doesn’t even have her expressing that she’d like to learn how to play it. Also, while the story refers to the music teacher’s pulling weeds in her garden, in the illustration she’s not pulling weeds. She’s not even wearing gloves or holding a weeding tool—and her garden is postcard-perfect, with not a weed in sight.

Romay’s phrase-by-phrase Spanish translation is grammatically correct, but it doesn’t show the richness of the language. Rather, both the Spanish and English texts appear to be for the benefit of English readers, without regard to Spanish readers. The Spanish is matched to the English text, rather than translated to show the internal logic necessary to appeal to hablantes. It’s not respectful of hablantes or the Mexican American community portrayed in the story. In some of the English text, for instance, an italicized phrase in Spanish is immediately followed by its English translation. Bilingual people do not talk this way:

 ,” Don Antonio said. “Yes.”
A ver,” he said. “Let’s see.”
Gracias,” Reyna said. “Thank you.”
“¿Qué pasó?” he asked. “What happened?”
Sígueme,” Señor Marcos said. “Follow me.”

From the inside cover: “Finding the Music / En pos de la música is a heartwarming bilingual tale of family, community, and the music that brings them together.” But it’s not. It’s a contrived story that purports to show how the people in the community are related to the protagonist’s grandfather. But the community does not come together to solve a community problem; rather, they’re all individuals, the problem is that of an individual, and the child has to figure out the solution by herself.

“Little does Reyna know along the way she will find herself growing closer to Abuelito and to the power of his music,” the copy also reads. This, too, does not happen.

Although she comes from a mariachi family, Reyna may have never heard mariachi music, but she’s heard many descriptions of mariachi music from her mamá. And like Reyna, young readers will not learn anything about mariachi either. The story is just cultural tourism—a superficial tale that appropriates Mexican American lives without providing any depth of cultural learning.

Finding the Music had potential. It could have explored a young Latina’s discovery of the music, embracing the music and wanting to learn to play the music. It could have explored what it is about mariachi that’s so soulful to Raza children. But Finding the Music / En pos de la música doesn’t do any of this and, as it stands, I can’t recommend it.

—María Cárdenas
(published 11/5/16)


Here are some suggestions for alternate scenarios that may have imbued a story like Finding the Music with cultural richness:

1. Mamá and Reyna are washing the dishes in the restaurant. The radio is playing mariachi music. Mamá sighs, “That’s the music of mi gente,” and Reyna responds, “Oh, Mamá, I want to learn all about mariachi music. Maybe I can learn to play Abuelito’s vihuela. Can you help me find someone to teach me?”

2. A non-Latino family moves into the neighborhood. They visit Mamá’s restaurant and fall in love with the mariachi music playing on the radio. Reyna, who comes from a mariachi family, introduces the new neighbors to her barrio, and offers to teach their daughter about mariachi music and culture.

3. Mamá and her family have had to sell their restaurant and move out of their barrio. In this neighborhood where Spanish is not typically spoken, there are no close neighbors and no corner bodegas, and mariachi music is rarely heard. Mamá and Reyna voice their loneliness for their friends, culture and language. They have a difficult decision to make.

4. Mamá and her family move to a new barrio, where Spanish is spoken and the local radio station plays mariachi music, but there are no mariachi conjuntos as there were in their old neighborhood. Lonely for the music of their gente, the family organizes to form a fledgling mariachi student group, who, with discipline, hard work and passion, will eventually bring mariachi music back to their barrio.

—M.C.

Surprise for Teresita / Una sorpresa para Teresita

author: Virginia Sánchez-Korrol 
illustrator: Carolyn Dee Flores 
translator: Gabriela Baeza Ventura 
Piñata Books / Arte Público Press, 2016
grades 1-4 
Puerto Rican

On the cover is a Nuyorican child named Teresita. Her head is slightly thrown back and she is laughing. Her laugh is so big that young readers can see the mixture of both primary and permanent teeth. Her outfit is a rainbow. The piragua in her hands is a rainbow. The background is a rainbow. And—Teresita is a rainbow.

Today is Teresita’s seventh birthday. She’s a big girl now—she can dress herself, help her mamá water the plants on the fire escape, lead her friends in “Red light, green light, 1, 2, 3,” and be trusted to stay in front of their building. But as the day goes on and she watches for Tío Ramón, she begins to worry that the barrio’s beloved vendedor de piraguas has forgotten her birthday surprise. (Young readers may intuit that Mamá knows what surprise Tío Ramón has for Teresita, but no one’s letting on.)

Flores’ intense, textured art—deep, rich oils on raw cardboard with an overlay of Liquin—is perfect. Her technique, she told me, is painstaking and time-consuming.

“I add one drop of paint directly from the tube,” she said, “and dip my brush into Liquin, mixing my colors right on the canvas. After each drop, I clean my brush, and start all over again.” The Liquin, she said, is a blender that also acts as a dryer. So, while the oil seeps into the cardboard and can take months to dry, the surface dries relatively quickly.

It’s the representation of these joyous and exuberant young Nuyorican children of the rainbow—and the neighborhood that their families have transformed into a “tropical island” whose colors are superimposed on the brick, stonework and facing of 19th Century brownstones—that appears to have fired Flores’s imagination and her bright palette of piragua colors that illuminates this sweet story.

A word about illustrating skin tones: Most of the time, the perceived darkness or lightness of our skin is determined by whether we’re in the shade or in the light. In addition, the insides of our arms and hands, for instance, are lighter than the outsides. Flores beautifully captures this phenomenon in the children and adults here, especially with Tío Ramón, who—since he moves around a lot in this story—appears darker on some pages and lighter on others. I don’t know any other children’s book illustrator who consistently reflects this kind of reality.

Baeza’s colloquial Puerto Rican Spanish translation is rhythmic and appealing. She uses, for instance, “jugo de china” rather than “jugo de naranja” for orange juice because, in Puerto Rico and Santo Domingo, oranges are called “chinas.” And hablantes will enjoy hanging out with Teresita and her friends as they jump “la doble soga” and “agua sube—agua baja” (“Double Dutch” and “High water—Low water"). Baeza also used a single term in English followed by the Spanish—“Teresita…fue a la ventana que abría el fire escape o salida de incendio”—to introduce a concept that a lot of kids might not fully understand.

She told me that when she works on translation, she takes care to create something that sounds natural to native speakers. For example, she said, certain grammatical constructions in English may not have corresponding structures in Spanish, so when they are translated word for word or even phrase for phrase, the result sounds awkward in Spanish. She said that her translation and editing process always includes reading the text out loud to herself and a translation committee, and working closely with the author to select the terms that best respect the characters and communities portrayed in the books.

To me, when Baeza translates, she centers hablantes who are reading the Spanish version. This is different and more effective—for both Spanish and English readers—than translating for English readers only, which is more often the case in “bilingual” children’s books.

Unlike too many other “multicultural” stories for children, readers here will not find any belabored expositions of language, food or music. Rather, author, illustrator and translator have seamlessly woven together the elements of a warm story of family, friends and community, where Nuyorican children of the rainbow find joy in each other’s company and little things—like hugs from loving parents, like running through the spray of an opened fire hydrant in the summertime, like jumping rope with friends, like waiting for the piraguas vendor and choosing which color and flavor of ice cone to buy—and where a child’s only worry is what will be her birthday surprise. (Spoiler Alert: It’s alive, it’s very cute, it has a green-and-white collar just like Tío Ramón’s piraguas cart, and its name is Piragua.)

Teresita is a real little girl in this sweet little story with excellent Spanish translation and luminous art; and everything about it is real. A Surprise for Teresita / Una sorpresa para Teresita is highly recommended.

—Beverly Slapin
(published 10/29/16)

Míl gracias to Carolyn Dee Flores and Gabriela Baeza Ventura.

One Minute Mysteries: More Short Mysteries You Solve with Science! / Misterios de un minuto: ¡Más misterios cortos que resuelves con ciencias!

author: Eric Yoder 
author: Natalie Yoder
translator: Esteban Bachelet 
Science, Naturally! (2016) 
grades 4-8


This fourth in the One Minute Mysteries series, and the first in both Spanish and English, contains most of the short mysteries found in the previous three English editions.

The project began, as the foreword describes, as a series of father-and-daughter activities in which Eric wrote, Natalie rolled her eyes, Natalie wrote, and the two wrote side by side. Eric’s vision was “to emphasize (science’s) widespread, real-life applications,” and Natalie’s was “to (keep) the behavior and dialogue of the characters authentic.” Natalie writes that their technique involved, in part, “(staring) at a dead spider on the ceiling above my dad’s desk for hours and hours.” This approach apparently worked—very well.

For youngsters, these challenging problems open up both discoveries and potential for curious, inquisitive minds. And that these 45 pint-sized “mysteries”—covering Life Science, Earth and Space Science, Physical and Chemical Science, General Science, and including a Mathematics Bonus Section—are both encountered and solved by children themselves make this volume both fun and accessible.

Among my favorite brain-teasers is “And They Call This a Fair / Feria de cuadritos,” in which Kendall and Ruby construct a game for the science fair, in which they lay out 20 cardboard rectangles measuring 2” x 3” each. The problem is to arrange the rectangles in a way that will cover the most area. (This one stumped me for a minute, until I figured out that “area” does not necessarily mean “contiguous area.”)

But my hands-down favorite is “Think Outside the Box / Piensa fuera de la caja,” in which Axel has forgotten that his science project—“to construct and label a model representing either a plant or animal cell, describing the functions of at least four parts of the cell”—is due in ten minutes! And all he has is pizza scraps and an almost-empty pizza box! Can he do it? Of course he can! (Although this kind of construction is not easily replicable—you’d need to have the right kind of pizza, eat almost all of it, leave the correct scraps and use every second of your ten minutes—it’s a hoot!)

The book design is clear and the text is readable, without illustrations or clues to detract from each “mystery.” The problems are presented in English on the left and Spanish on the right and generally headed by puns in each language to grab attention. The images—black-and-white photos and drawings—are appropriately reserved for the “solution” pages: those on each two-page spread are related to each other so young readers can intuit more than one connection between image and solution. While it’s obvious that the authors used great care in choosing the photos of both children and adults who represent a diversity of age, ethnicity and gender, I would like to have seen representation of children and adults with disabilities and the spectrum of family configurations as well.

Bachelet’s colloquial Spanish translation reads well, and this layout of the mysteries and solutions enable English-speakers, hablantes, and bilingual students to work in the language in which they’re most proficient, and look to the other side for corresponding words, phrases, and particular idioms that interest them.

Engaging and fun for both science- and math nerds (and their parents, if permitted), as well as  youngsters who could benefit from some time away from video games, One Minute Mysteries: More Short Mysteries You Solve with Science! / ¡Más misterios cortos que resuelves con ciencias! is highly recommended.

—Beverly Slapin
(published 10/25/16)

Dos conejos blancos // Two White Rabbits

author: Jairo Buitrago
illustrator: Rafael Yockteng 
translator: Elisa Amado 
Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press, 2016 
all grades  

On the cover is a little girl, comfortably lying down with her head resting on her papá’s leg. Her body is relaxed and her eyes are wide open; she’s happily playing with her toy bunny. Papá is sitting upright, leaning on his backpack. He’s looking warily into the distance. 

Towards the middle of the story, readers will see that Papá and daughter are riding on the top of a train. They are refugees, fleeing for their lives, fleeing to El Norte, hitching rides on one of the old, rusted-out trains they call “La Bestia” (“the beast”), but this child does not know any of this. All she knows is that she’s with her papá who loves her, and that’s all that counts.

And she counts: “Cuando viajamos” (When we travel), she says, happily riding on Papá’s shoulders, “yo cuento lo que veo” (I count what I see). She sadly counts the hens and chicks, as she says goodbye; she counts the cows, being led away by a new owner; she counts “un burrito aburrido, y cincuenta pájaros en el cielo” (one little bored donkey and fifty birds in the sky), as she and Papá and a coyote watch people load all their belongings on makeshift rafts; she counts the people who live by the train tracks, as they wait for La Bestia to take them to El Norte; and she counts the clouds, which take on the many shapes of a child’s imagination. Throughout, the little girl is all energy and fascination, while Papá watches for danger.

The center spread shows the reason for Papá’s fear: Here, border patrol agents have stopped the train and are pulling people out. As they handcuff and arrest some, Papá and daughter and others—accompanied by the coyote—are running for their lives.

On almost every double-page spread, readers will see a coyote and sometimes more than one. They are “chuchos” (“mutts”), as Papá calls them. They represent the human smugglers who, for an exorbitant price, accompany the undocumented refugees, sometimes hundreds of miles and sometimes on foot—to reach El Norte. Sometimes coyotes bring the refugees all the way to a safe place and sometimes they abandon them, on their own, often without food or water, in the middle of the desert. The lives of refugees are far from safe and the trip is often deadly dangerous.

Yesterday, three young children who had a chance to read this book almost dropped it when they realized that the “chuchos” were coyotes. Their father was a refugee from Mexico, and their mother had told them who the “coyotes” are. Young children who are not part of refugee families—and even some who are—may not readily understand all of the symbolism in these illustrations. (The reviewer from Kirkus didn’t, either.) But all Maribel, Amelia Edosia, and Anthony Rodriguez needed was a brief explanation from their mother about “symbolism”—and they were off!

As they read the story and looked carefully at the artwork, the children noticed and were able to answer questions posed by the large details: “Now the papá and daughter look sad. Are they saying goodbye to their hens and chicks? Did they sell their cows to that white guy?” “Why are they talking to the “chucho”? “Where are they going on the rafts?” “Why do all those people live by the train tracks?” “Why are they climbing on the train?” “Why are the papá and daughter and their friends running away?” At first, Maribel had figured it out and explained it to Amelia Edosia and Anthony. But very soon, the younger ones “got” the symbolism and effectively explained them to each other.

The small details didn’t escape these kids, either: “Why is that cop (border control) grabbing that man’s wrist?” “Why does that woman look ashamed?” “Why are the people in handcuffs?” “Why do all the cops have rifles?” “Why are the cops being mean to everyone?”

When Papá and daughter stop at a grocery in a small Mexican town to get temporary employment and pay another “chucho” to lead them further, the daughter plays with the store owner’s son; and when it’s time to move on, the youngsters trade: her toy bunny for his two white rabbits, whose home is a cardboard box.

In giving up her toy bunny to her new friend, the little girl is trading in her uncertainty for the reality of the two white rabbits, who are going to be free on the other side of the wall. As she and her papá finally cross the border, the child releases the two white rabbits—who on the last double-page spread, with the border wall behind them, scamper off to freedom.

In many ways, the two white rabbits, now free, are symbolic of the courage that it takes for this refugee father and his young daughter to cross the desert and risk their lives in order to get to El Norte. Rabbits are survivors; they signify determination. They’re extremely strong and can leap great distances. They can squeeze under fences and—as Maribel, Amelia Edosia and Anthony noted—dig underground tunnels. Their sharp vision can detect predators from all directions. They have intimate knowledge of their surroundings and know how to forage for food.

As Maribel, Amelia Edosia, and Anthony quickly figured out when I asked them who the white rabbits were, they said, almost in unison: “Papá and the little girl.”

Yockteng created the sketches in pencil, which he then scanned and digitally colored and outlined. The result is stunning, with a muted palette of mostly browns, blues and greens that create a sort-of sameness, complementing the story and highlighting the long journey on which all there is for the child to do is to count—and dream. Buitrago and Yockteng have intentionally left the place, which may be Mexico or anywhere in Central America, ambiguous. That’s because, as IBBY Foundation President Patricia Aldana writes in a brief Afterword, “close to a hundred thousand children from Central America make the very dangerous trip you see here to find safety and a way to survive in the United States,” and this small family could represent any of them.

Originally written in Spanish and seamlessly translated into English, Dos conejos blancos // Two White Rabbits is brilliant, profound and heartbreaking—and highly recommended. (Note: I listed this book as appropriate for all grades because it can be effectively read in preschool- through undergraduate levels, as well as in courses such as Early Childhood Education, Children’s Literature, and Library Science.)

—Beverly Slapin
(published 10/17/16)

Muchísimas gracias a mi amiga y colega, Judy Zalazar Drummond, who introduced me to Maribel Rodriguez (11), Amelia Edosia Rodriguez (9), and Anthony Rodriguez (6), and to their mom, Melissa Rodriguez—and to the children, for allowing me to see this beautiful story through their eyes.

Best Mariachi in the World // El Mejor Mariachi del Mundo // The Best Mariachi in the World / El mejor Mariachi del mundo

author: J.D. Smith
illustrator: Dani Jones 
translator: Eida de la Vega 
Raven Tree Press, 2008 
preschool-grade 2 
Mexican

This title was published in hardcover and paperback, in English-only, Spanish-only, and what the publisher labels “Bilingual—with mostly English and concept words in Spanish formats.” (For those who may not know—apparently including the publisher—a bilingual book contains the complete text in two languages.)

Summary: “Gustavo wants to be in the family mariachi band [sic], but he cannot play the violines [sic], trumpets or guitars. He finds his place in the band with his singing talent.” The book’s message is something about a little kid (literally) “finding his voice.”

This book seriously downplays the role of nurturing in a large extended family. Mariachi groups are often family-based, cousins, uncles, aunts, grandmothers, grandfathers, all training the future generation of musicians. Think of the Trio Los Panchos—they’ve been around for over 50 years and are now composed of grandsons of the original mariachis.[1] This takes work and dedication and teaching from an early age. None of this is shown in Best Mariachi, and that is its fatal flaw: it totally negates the role of family in Mexican culture.

The story begins on this depressing note: “Gustavo was the worst mariachi in the world.” In the first illustration, Gustavo—dressed in a green t-shirt and brown pants, hands in his pockets, eyes cast downward—stands sorrowfully in the middle of his (male) relatives who are dressed in mariachi outfits and happily playing mariachi instruments: violín, trompeta, and guitarrón. The only one who acknowledges Gustavo’s existence is the dog at his feet.


Although Gustavo dreams of becoming a great mariachi, recognized and applauded by everyone, young readers find out that Gustavo is the “worst mariachi” because none of his mariachi relatives—his father, his uncle, his brother, even his cousins—will let him as much as touch their instruments, so he cannot even learn to play.

Let’s stop here for a moment. This story stretches credulity and completely obscures the reality. Any Mexican or Mexican American mariachi family (or any musical family) would be delighted to encourage their children to learn the music—as well as traditional, historical and contemporary songs—and to learn to play whichever instruments suit them. There would be lots of hard work to accomplish the goal of becoming a mariachi: lots of learning and lots of practice, probably after school and homework; and maybe even working a part-time job to save money to purchase the instrument and fabric for the outfit. The whole thing might become a family or community project in which the child learns many things about history, music, study, work, and economics. That would make a good story.

But here, young, sad and alone, Gustavo goes out into the desert each night to sing. At first, he is hesitant, and then, little by little, he gets more confident and sings louder as “he sings all the songs that he knows as well as he knows his own name.” After a while, the townspeople hear his voice, loud and clear. They applaud. They say he is a “true mariachi—the best mariachi in the world.” His cousins carry “the best mariachi” home to an “enormous breakfast” consisting entirely of a huge plate of what appear to be plain tortillas. Served by someone wearing a chef’s outfit. Oh, well.

Jones’ gouache, oil, and colored-pencil illustrations complement the stereotypic story. With very small differences, all of her over-the-top cartoonish characters look alike—exaggerated, oversized heads and small bodies, dark complexions all the same shade of brown, expressions denoted by closed or bugged-out eyes and wide open or curved-downward mouths. As well, the limited palette of background colors—mostly bright turquoises and blues, browns, greens and purples—seems to be a weak, half-hearted attempt at Mexican sky, desert flora and fauna, and adobe.

Last year, I viewed an amazing 2013 performance by Mariachi los Tigres, students from Stephen F. Austin Middle School in San Antonio.[2] Here was a group of talented, disciplined, practiced, joyful young people, full of pride and community esteem, performing instrumental and vocal solos, revolutionary corridos and popular songs. Towards the middle of their performance, their teacher asked the parents and other adult community members to stand and receive applause for their hard work and dedication. Then all acknowledged the children for maintaining their grades and good citizenship before engaging in the “fun stuff” of playing mariachi music. Love spread all around. This is what community is about.

All of this is what’s missing from The Best Mariachi in the World // El Mejor Mariachi del Mundo. Mariachi family members who won’t let a child touch their instruments. A child left alone with no one to help him realize his dreams. So he accomplishes all this on his own. And becomes the best.

The “bilingual” version—from the title on (which, rather than “El Mejor Mariachi en Todo el Mundo, would correctly be, “El mariachi mejor en todo el mundo”)—is piled high with errors and inappropriate usage. Here are just two more examples:

            No one was there to play. But he had to stand up and sing. He had to cantar.[3]

Since “cantar,” above, is an infinitive, the (incorrect) English translation would be, “He had to to sing.”

“Hmm,” Gustavo thought, “I want to be in the band—in la banda mariachi. But what can I do?”

(1) The term, “mariachi,” is both singular and plural: A person who sings and plays mariachi music is called a “mariachi,” and the group is also called “mariachi.” (2) “Banda” refers to Mexican country dance music; it doesn’t mean “band,” as a synonym for a musical group. That word would be “grupo” or “conjunto,” followed by the name of the group. And finally: (3) Inserting Spanish words into an otherwise English text does not make a story bilingual. Mexican and other Spanish-speaking people do not talk this way. Mexican and other Spanish-speaking people do not even think this way.

Rather than reflecting Mexican children’s ways of speaking, ways of thinking, and ways of being in the world, the story is a deficit view of Mexican families, and the language is worse than stilted. Children who are hablantes or who are bilingual learn by working through meaning and concepts and nuance. But by using an English-dominant translation—using English as the literal point of transfer—the story obscures meaning, rather than bringing together two ways of meaning and two ways of seeing the world.

The Best Mariachi in the World / El Mejor Mariachi del Mundo is a culturally inappropriate story—about a young Mexican child who must, and does, go out alone to “find his voice” because his mariachi family doesn’t care enough about him to encourage his talent. The story contains inaccurate Spanish, amateurish and stereotyped pictures, and a fake “multicultural” overlay—all of which promotes a sort of  “bootstraps mythology” to be fed to innocent little kids. Despite its winning second place in the 2009 International Latino Book Awards for Best Children's Picture Book, The Best Mariachi in the World / El Mejor Mariachi del Mundo is not recommended.

—Beverly Slapin
(published 10/14/16)

Míl gracias to María Cárdenas, Judy Zalazar Drummond, Pat Enciso, Lyn Miller-Lachmann, and Ricardo Ramírez.


[1]Here they are, in a 20-minute compilation of six of their well-known songs: “Contigo,” “Si No Estás Conmigo,” “Flor de Azalea,” “Poquita Fe,” “Triunfamos,” and “Sabor a Mí.”
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Cp0tjTQv6M.

[2] Enjoy this wonderful community concert: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TavqBkUv-6M. The teacher is the guy in the back who’s playing the guitarrón and can’t stop smiling.

[3] In the book, the phrases in bold here are highlighted in red.

Out of Darkness

author: Ashley Hope Pérez 
Carolrhoda Lab TM, 2015
grades 9-up 
Mexican American

On March 18, 1937, a natural gas leak led to a deadly explosion and collapse of the all-white school in New London, a town in East Texas. Ashley Hope Pérez, who grew up nearby, mined her grandmother’s recollections, archives, and historical narratives to build a complex and memorable novel around this event, a novel that at its core explores love across hard racial lines.

Seventeen-year-old Naomi Vargas, now called Naomi Smith, is a misfit in New London—the dark-complexioned daughter of Mexican-American parents. Shortly after she was born, her father drowned and her mother married a handsome Anglo oil field worker. Henry Smith, though, proved to be a demanding and troubled husband, and when his new wife died after bearing twins Beto and Cari, Henry left the three children with their abuelos in San Antonio. But now sober and an evangelical Christian, he has brought the family to East Texas where they must follow the rules to fit into the white side of a Jim Crow society. They must also renounce their Mexican heritage. Here, Naomi prepares her half-siblings for school:

“That’s enough sass,” Naomi said when they caught up to her. “Let’s hear the rules.”

With a sigh, Cari said, “The main thing is, we don’t talk Spanish in the street or at school or anywhere. Which is stupid, if you ask me.”

“All right, then,” Naomi said. “Just remember. And what else?”

“We call Henry ‘Daddy,’” Cari said. She frowned. “And what about you? Do you have to even though he’s not your daddy?”

“Me, too, and you know it,” Naomi said. She crossed her arms over her chest.

Rule following goes by the wayside when handsome Black teenager Wash Fuller (who is not allowed to attend the Consolidated School but goes to the inferior Colored School, with shorter hours, a shorter school year, and cast off supplies) finds Naomi hiding from bullies in a tree and she introduces him to her seven-year-old half-siblings. Beto and Cari enjoy exploring the piney woods and fishing for their supper with Wash, and Naomi faces down her anxiety about sex—the result of Henry’s sexual abuse of her while her mother was dying—to become intimate with him.

But Henry, who has started drinking again, has designs on Naomi, who is now old enough to legally replace her mother in the marital bed. Surprisingly, most of the town, including the pastor and the Smiths’ churchgoing neighbors, think that such a union is acceptable—certainly far more acceptable to them than a loving, consensual relationship with peers of different races. It is in this volatile racial and sexual mix that the explosion happens.

Pérez’s eloquent third-person omniscient narrative focuses on Naomi, Wash, Beto, Henry, and The Gang, the group of white students who enforce the color line and gossip about Naomi’s beauty and desirability as they stereotype and torment her. Using the third person allows her to comment on her characters whose lives take on the dimensions of a Shakespearean tragedy, and to immerse the reader in a richly drawn setting that is itself a character.

They had been happy for a time, before the rules found them. Before the terrible price was exacted for their transgressions. For the crossing of lines. For friendship, for love.

Ultimately, this powerful novel asks: What are we willing to sacrifice for friendship and love? For defying an unjust society? For working to bring about racial justice? Out of the Darkness is highly recommended.

Lyn Miller-Lachmann
(published 10/3/16)

An earlier version of this review first appeared in The Pirate Tree (thepiratetree.com). We thank The Pirate Tree for permission.


Editor’s note: Toward the beginning of Out of Darkness, a classmate explains to Naomi his position at the bottom of the town’s social hierarchy: “Nah, I’m a low man on the totem pole.” Debbie Reese, founder and editor of American Indians in Children’s Literature, (https://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/) noted this culturally problematic term and called it to the author’s attention. Rather than being defensive, the author thanked Debbie and, in the next printing (paperback), author and editor agreed to replace this line with: “Nah, no suck luck.”

Ghosts

author: Raina Telgemeier
illustrators: Raina Telgemeier and Braden Lamb 
Scholastic, 2016 
grades 3-6 
Indigenous, Mexican American

Poorly conceived, abysmally written, and apparently neither well-researched nor fact-checked, Raina Telgemeier’s Ghosts, which saw a six-figure first-print run, garnered record sales even before its official release. Favorably reviewed by all of the major trade journals, a thoughtful reading of Ghosts may well answer the question about the difference between “multicultural celebration” and “multicultural appropriation.”

Presenting a Mexican American family that includes a child with a profound disability, Ghosts would appear to be a celebration of multiculturalism. Sixth-grader Catrina Allende-Delmar and her younger sister Maya and their family are moving from sunny Southern California to a cloudy northern coastal town called Bahía de la Luna. Maya has cystic fibrosis and the family has been told that the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea will be good for her. As the family moves into their new digs, they meet their neighbors, the Calaveras family. Carlos Calaveras tells them that the town is densely populated with ghosts.

Let’s stop here for a moment. It wouldn’t be a stretch to opine that no Latino family in the world would be named “Calaveras,” which means, “skull,” any more than, as Laura Jiménez points out, there would be “a family named Advent Calendar living in a town with a reputation for elves.”[1]

Cat and Maya’s mom, Leona, is an assimilated Mexican woman who has married a white guy and turned away from her people to the extent that she doesn’t speak any Spanish and wishes she could cook Mexican food like her mother used to but can’t. It’s the offer of authentic Mexican food in this story that tempts the girls to accompany Carlos on a tour that includes the local mission, which has been abandoned and is, like the rest of the town, full of ghosts, because ghosts like to hang out in foggy places.


Cultural Appropriation 1:

The California Missions

After a long trek, the three arrive at the ruins of a local mission, where they encounter tombstones and a large crowd of ghost-like creatures, who entrance Maya but totally freak out Cat. Carlos speaks Spanish to the ghosts because “most of the people buried here were from Mexico, so they like it when you speak Spanish to them.” Since these ghosts are “a little shy around people they don’t know,” Carlos hands Maya a bottle of orange soda and a bottle opener, which immediately attracts the ghosts, who happily morph into friendly skeletons who embrace and tickle a giggling Maya, who thinks they’re “awesome.” When Maya has a sudden coughing episode because the ghosts have, according to Cat, “stolen her breath,” the mission tour is done. That’s it. The missions are the homes of shy, Spanish-speaking ghosts from Mexico—not the Indigenous people who really worked at the missions and were forced to speak Spanish, the language of their oppressors—who dance around and will do anything for a bottle of orange soda.




Here’s how the author describes her relationship with the California missions (from her blog):

I like exploring old abandoned places and mysterious towns. I love skeletons. I love stories with magical realism in them.”[2]

That’s it. All of her research about the California missions seems to have been boiled down to her love of old abandoned places and skeletons. Telgemeier lives in California. In September of last year, Pope Francis journeyed from Rome to Washington, D.C.,  to canonize Fr. Junipero Serra, who created the brutal California mission system. Fewer than ten minutes of research by Telgemeier or anyone else would have uncovered tears and protests from thousands of people descended from the “Mission Indians.” It also would have uncovered this information:

During the period from 1769-1848, some of the most stable societies in human history had to contend with warfare, disease, and colonization—resulting in a population reduced by over 90% in fewer than two generations. It would not be a stretch to compare the Indian Holocaust of the California Mission system with the Nazi Holocaust in Europe in the 1930s and 40s. It would not be a stretch to compare any of the California Missions to any of the European concentration camps. But, since its inception, the teaching in California schools of the California mission system, or worse, of the “Mission Indians,” has always been a political and religious hot potato.

In 1987, in an attempt to derail the impending canonization of Junipero Serra, Rupert Costo (Cahuilla) and Jeannette Henry Costo (Cherokee) edited The Missions of California: A Legacy of Genocide[3], which was published by the non-profit Indian Historian Press in San Francisco. This book, which contains an excellent chapter called “The Indian Testimony,” remains the cornerstone of educational work about what occurred during the Mission Period. Here is an excerpt from “The Indian Testimony.” It’s called “The Crying Rock—Where They Killed the Children,” told to Rupert Costo by Rosalie Robertson (Kumeyaay), who learned it from her great-great-grandfather:

One way they had was to get to the people through the children. They would take the children up on the cliff and drop them down the cliff and killed them. And that went on. You can get some of the people to show you just where that happened. Where they threw the children down and killed them, they call that place the “Crying Rock” today.

A lady asked me why they did that to the children. And we know it was done to make the parents do what they were told to do. They didn’t want to do what the padres told them to do, so they forced them to do these things; if they knew the children would be killed they would be more likely to mind the padres.

But there’s so much more. Here is part of Wendy Rose’s poem, “Excavation at Santa Barbara Mission”:

They built the missions with dead Indians.
They built the missions with dead Indians.
They built the missions with dead Indians.
They built the missions with dead Indians.[4]

Literally. The bodies of Indians who had died or been killed were cemented into the walls and body parts were mixed into the masonry and dirt used to build and repair the missions. Can you imagine the horror of, not only not being able to bury your beloved dead in your traditional way, but actually using their body parts as building material?

My friend and colleague, Deborah Miranda, wrote about the generational trauma of the California missions in her blog, Bad Ndns[5]:

[All] of my relatives and I live in a secular world that is pocked by the scars of everything that happened in the California missions, including the devastation that Mission Mythology spreads among Natives and non-Natives alike.

Had she chosen to include in her story anything even approximating the real histories of the Indigenous peoples enslaved in the California Missions, Telgemeier could have perused the following books and materials:

Castillo, Elias, A Cross of Thorns: The Enslavement of California's Indians by the Spanish Missions. Craven Street Books, 2015.

Costo, Rupert, and Jeannette Henry Costo, eds., The Missions of California: A Legacy of Genocide. Indian Historian Press, 1987.

Haas, Lisbeth, Saints and Citizens: Indigenous Histories of Colonial Missions and Mexican California. University of California Press, 2014.

Lightfoot, Kent, Indians, Missionaries and Merchants: The Legacy of Colonial Encounters on the California Frontiers. University of California Press, 2006.

Miranda, Deborah A., Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir. Heyday Books, 2013.

Sandos, James A., Converting California: Indians and Franciscans in the Missions. Yale University Press, 2008.

“Saying Our Share: Surviving the Missions,” special issue of News from Native California, vol. 28 #2, winter 2014-15.

And. A quick Google search would have come up with literally hundreds of news items, articles, and essays, many from a Native perspective. Here are just a few:

“Indian Resistance to the California missions” http://nativeamericannetroots.net/diary/525
 (5/29/10)

“The dark, terrible secret of California’s missions” / SF Gate http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/openforum/article/The-dark-terrible-secret-of-California-s-missions-2685666.php (11/8/04)

“Indian Country Diaries. History. California Genocide / PBS”
http://www.pbs.org/indiancountry/history/calif.html

“It’s time to acknowledge the genocide of California’s Indians” / LA Times http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-madley-california-genocide-20160522-snap-story.html (5/22/16)

“Jacque Nunez explains beginning of genocide” / California Missions / California Museum and Cultural Center /https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QOuuPXklGQ (8/7/13)

And, definitely not least, Deborah A. Miranda’s blog, http://badndns.blogspot.com/, has a wealth of information for educators, children, and others who really want to know.


Cultural Appropriation 2: 

Día de los Muertos

Here’s how the author describes her relationship with Día de los Muertos (from her blog):

I’m really interested in holidays (like Halloween and Día de los Muertos) that celebrate spirits in different ways. I attended San Francisco’s Día de los Muertos procession and Festival of Altars while I was working on GHOSTS, and everything I saw and experienced made its way into the book in one way or another. It’s a very respectful, reverent, and beautiful experience, and everyone brings their own story and history to it. Traditionally, it was celebrated in Mexico, and while there are many common themes and motifs, every town and region has their own take on it. I researched multiple traditions and sources, and the town of Bahía de la Luna celebrates it in its own unique and special way. If your town celebrates Día de los Muertos, I encourage you to learn more about it![6]

The purposes of contemporary Día de los Muertos festivities, which involve the whole community, are to remember and honor the ancestors, to entice and welcome them home, to invite them to visit among the living for a while, before they have to return to the land of the dead. Traditionally, the souls of children who have died are welcomed home on November 1, and the souls of adult family members, on November 2. In some places, especially in Mexican towns, the ceremonies are elaborate and religious, involving both Indigenous and Christian traditions.[7] But in both towns and urban areas in Mexico and the US, there are usually parades, celebrations at cemeteries, and elaborate altars set up in homes—with pictures of the ancestors, fragrant and beautiful marigolds, and delicious foods, drinks, candies as well as toys to let the visitors know they are welcomed. It is only after the souls have absorbed the essence of the food and returned to the land of the dead that the families may eat and drink what’s on the altars. The souls may present themselves to families in any of many forms, including hummingbirds or the scent of flowers, or the music of a favorite song. But the souls of the dead are not ghosts. They do not float around and they do not touch people.




In Ghosts, Catrina dresses up as La Catrina for “Halloween / Día de los Muertos.” But. Halloween and Día de los Muertos are not the same, not even similar. And. La Catrina is no ordinary “ghost” and has nothing to do with Día de los Muertos. She’s a creation of José Guadelupe Posada (1852-1913), who became a political cartoonist during the Mexican Revolutionary period. His satirical work mocked the Mexican upper classes, members of whom, even in death, stubbornly refused to surrender their wealth. For a Mexican or Mexican American child to personify “La Catrina” would be the equivalent of someone who is African American dressing up as “Amos” or “Andy,” caricatures of Black people. During contemporary Día de los Muertos parades, children and teens sometimes deck themselves out as skeletons (and may even be carried around in mock open coffins out of which they toss candy), but they don’t costume themselves as specific people.

As Laura Jiménez writes, “In Telgemeier’s graphic novel the ghosts have a bit of an obsession with orange soda in a bottle. The dead basically want to party all night long, drink orange soda, and don’t seem to care if they are with family or just randos on the street.”[8] Ghosts and spirits and souls are not interchangeable, yet Telgemeier has made a mishmash of them. “The end of the book,” Jiménez continues, “is full of music, flying, an inexplicably dead lighthouse attendant, and a black cat who delivers Mexican food. If you are teaching kids about Día de los Muertos, please look elsewhere.”

I imagine that the black cat who delivers Mexican food on the last page—and who makes brief appearances by crossing Maya’s path several times—is supposed to be the children’s departed abuela, demonstrating her love for her family through food. One of the clues is the photo of Abuela, smiling, on the altar nearby. But. This is yet another unnecessary cultural anomaly. The Mexican and Mexican American souls who visit among the living at Día de los Muertos aren’t shape-shifters. They’re just not. And they don’t prepare (or deliver) food for the families—even families who are so thoroughly assimilated that they just can’t figure out how to make decent tamales. The families prepare food for the souls to enjoy. What a mess.

Had Telgemeier wanted to portray an honest interpretation of the cultural facets of Día de los Muertos, she could have perused many excellent books for children. They include, but are not limited to:

Ancona, George, Pablo Remembers: The Fiesta of the Day of the Dead, photographs by the author. HarperCollins, 1993.

García, Richard, My Aunt Otilia’s Spirits / Los espíritus de mi tía Otilia, illustrated by Robin Cherin and Roger I. Reyes, translated by Jesús Guerrero Rey. Children’s Book Press / Lee & Low, 1986.

Morales, Yuyi, Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Alphabet Book, illustrated by the author. Roaring Brook Press, 2003.

Morales, Yuyi, Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book, illustrated by the author. Roaring Brook Press, 2008.

Salinas, Bobbie, Indo-Hispanic Folk Art Traditions II: The Day of the Dead and other year-round activities, illustrated by the author. Piñata Publications, 1988.

Toledo, Natalia, and Francisco Toledo, Light Foot / Pies Ligeros. Groundwood Books, 2007.

Tonatiuh, Duncan, Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras, illustrated by the author. Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2015.

Weill, Cynthia, Mi Familia Calaca / My Skeleton Family, art by Jesús Canseco Zárate. Cinco Puntos Press, 2913.


Telgemeier’s work is not “celebration of diversity.” It’s not “multicultural.” It’s cultural appropriation at its worst—the denial and diminishing of the real histories and cultural beliefs and practices of the peoples of this area. It’s privilege without responsibility. With all of its engaging art and pretense of fun and wit and humor, and despite all of its laudatory reviews, Ghosts is a contribution to the erasure of the Indigenous peoples and those who are “mixed” with the blood of the conquerors and the blood of the conquered. And it’s a contribution to the exclusion of young Indigenous, Mexican and Mexican American readers who might be sucked into a graphic novel that purportedly shows their own histories and cultures.

Trafficking in stereotypes can never be condoned, no matter how eye-catching the art, no matter how fast-moving the plot, no matter how humorous the dialogue, no matter how pure the writer-artist’s intentions. Contributing to the erasure of a people is not OK. It is never OK. It never will be OK. Ghosts is not recommended.

—Beverly Slapin
(published 9/27/16)

Míl gracias to my friends and colleagues, Maria Cardenas, Judy Zalazar Drummond, Pat Enciso, Laura Jiménez, Deborah A. Miranda, Lyn Miller-Lachmann, and the work of Yuyi Morales, Debbie Reese, Reading While White, and so many others.



[1] Laura Jiménez, booktoss.wordpress.com (2016).

[3] Costo, Rupert, and Jeanette Henry Costo, The Missions of California: A Legacy of Genocide. San Francisco: Indian Historian Press, 1987.

[4] The entire poem can be found at Deborah A. Miranda’s blog, http://whenturtlesfly.blogspot.com/2009/09/wendy-rose-hopimiwok.html

[5] http://badndns.blogspot.com/

[7] What became known as “El Día de los Muertos” began about 3,000 years ago as an Aztec celebration, which the Spanish conquistadores forcibly Christianized in order to subjugate the Indigenous peoples of what is now called Mexico.

[8] Laura Jiménez, ibid.