From the Belly Button of the Moon and Other Summer Poems / Del Ombligo de la Luna y otros poemas de verano

author: Francisco X. Alarcón
illustrator: Maya Christina González
Children’s Book Press / Lee & Low, 1998
kindergarten-grade 4 Me

These 22 poems, in Spanish and English, celebrate the poet’s memories of his joyous childhood summers with his relatives in Mexico. Here, in the beloved town of Atoyac, he listens to his grandmother’s stories, enjoys his auntie’s delicious breakfasts, finds out about his origins, and learns that “Mexico” means “from the belly button of the moon.” Here, everything has life, everything has spirit. In “Isla/Island,” “toda isla / sueña / con ser / un continente” (“every island / dreams / of being / a continent”) and in “Mar/Sea,” “tus olas / se rien / a carcajadas” (“your waves / burst out / laughing”). And everything expresses joy.

González’s vibrant folk art paintings are full of contrasting colors and wide, bold, expressive brush strokes that complement Alarcón’s words. Highly recommended.

—Beverly Slapin
(published 4/7/13)

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