Criticism & Features




During the holiday season, one of my favorite gift choices for my nieces and godson are books. And since all three are going to be raised bilingual speakers, it’s important to encourage literacy in Spanish. I found five titles that will find their way to the tree this year:

Xavier Garza, Charro Claus and the Tejas Kid, Cinco Puntos Press.

(Illustrated by the author)

Here’s an original take on the famous Clement Clarke Moore holiday classic. How would the night before Christmas “translate” in a South Texas Valley setting, where St. Nick’s Mexican cousin Pancho can lend a hand by distributing gifts to all the children who live along the U.S.-Mexico border? Easy: Charro Claus!

Benjamin Alire Sáenz, A Perfect Season for Dreaming/ Un tiempo perfecto para soñar, Cinco Puntos Press.

(Illustrated by Esau Andrade Valencia)

An elderly gentleman is slowing down in his later years, but not his active imagination. With the need for afternoon siestas comes the time for dreaming up wildly inventive scenes celebrating the cultural experience of a long and rewarding life. 

Jorge Argueta, Alfredito Flies Home/ Alfredito regresa volando a su casa, Groundwood Books.

(Illustrated by Luis Garay)

Once refugees from a country ravaged by war and conflict, Alfredito’s family has decided to visit El Salvador now that the dust has settled. Surprises both heartbreaking and heartwarming await the family as they reunite with a landscape still healing from its wounds.

Francisco X. Alarcón, Animal Poems of the Iguazú/ Animalario del Iguazú, Children’s Book Press.

(Illustrated by Maya Christina González)

This collection of poetry for children is a fun and educational way to raise awareness about the need to preserve the beauty of the South American rainforest. The poems are as delightful and colorful as the depictions of the flora and fauna that make Iguazú National Park a unique and magical place. 

Carmen Tafolla and Sharyll Tenayuca, That’s Not Fair!: Emma Tenayuca’s Struggle for Justice/ ¡No es justo!: La lucha de Emma Tenayuca por la justicia, Wings Press.

(Illustrated by Terry Ybáñez)

Based on the true story about a young woman who led the historic pecan sheller strike in 1920s San Antonio, this book offers valuable lessons about activism and the fight for justice. As the book demonstrates: one is never too young to develop a social consciousness or an appreciation for Mexicans and U.S. labor history.