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Multicultural Literature For Children and Young Adults
Hispanic/Latino/a Litetature

Mora, Pat. The Rainbow Tulip. 1999. New York: Viking. ISBN 067087291.

The Rainbow Tulip is a beautiful story of a young Mexican girl and her desire to fit into two worlds: school where she is learning to speak English, and home where her parents speak only Spanish. Stella (Estelita at home) loves her mother very much, but she is sometimes embarrassed that she doesn't speak English and dresses differently from the other mothers. Stella is aware that her family is different from the other families in her neighborhood. She is happy at school where she is learning to speak English and making new friends. One-day Stella's teacher tells the class about the May Parade. The girls will be tulips. Stella knows just how she wants her costume made; each petal will represent a different color of spring. The day of the May Parade Stella sees the other girls; tulip costume one color; she feels that she has made a mistake with her costume. Troubled by her costume Stella performs the Maypole beautifully helping the other girls who have forgotten their steps. After the May Parade is over her teacher stops to tell Stella's mother how proud she is of Stella performance. Stella's mother is also very proud of Stella. At home Stella and her mother sit quietly together sharing Lime Sherbet, making make the day memorable for Stella.

The Rainbow Tulip is a story that is based on the author's mother's childhood in El Paso, Texas during the 1920s. The story is filled with many cultural markers from the Hispanic culture. Stella is bi-lingual like many immigrant children she speaking English outside of the home and Spanish inside the home. Her mother dressed in somber colors of browns and grays, unlike many of Stella's school friends mothers. Because of this Stella wants to wear read and other colors that "sing and dance" Stella parents are very quite people. Her father was a judge in Mexico. Her father had a very small part in the story, but Mora wanted the reader to know that the family was middle class and educated not the stereotypical migrant farm workers. Mora incorporates some Spanish throughout the text but not enough to require a glossary.

Sayle's soft pastel drawing captures the dignity of a family assimilation into American culture. However I found problems with skin tone. Stella's skin tone was the same shade as her Caucasian classmates. The only difference between Stella and her classmate was Stella's dark hair. I wonder why the lack of difference in skin tone did not borther the author, or was it a publisher decision?





Ancona, George. 1994. The Piņata Maker/El Pinatero. New York: Harcourt. ISBN 0152618759.

In "The Piņata Maker/El Pinatero". George Ancona a Mexican- American photographer and author followed the daily actions of 77-year-old Don Ricardo who has been making authentic piņatas for 15 years. Don Ricardo also known as Tio Rico (Uncle Rico) to the children of the village makes piņatas for local celebrations. George Ancona photographs and nonfiction text is in English and Spanish providing the reader visual step for creating their own piņata.

Piņatas are popular at festivals, birthdays, and Christmas. They are filled with fruits, candy, small toys, and candy. The reader will learn how piņata are made and their purpose in the Mexican community told in narrative form. Ancona follows Don Ricardo through a day of making piņatas. First, he makes the paste using flour and water because it is hard to get starch and it is very expensive. Next, he uses cardboard and banana leaves to shape the neck and wings of a swan. He uses irons to hold the neck in place until it dries. He then begins to decorate the clay pot with crepe paper and colored tissue forming the body of the swan. Now that the swan is done he begins working on a star.

That afternoon and mother and daughter buy a piņata for the girl's birthday party. Daniela is pictured at her party with her friends in ruffled party dresses. Don Ricardo and his wife are invited to nearly all the parties he makes piņatas for. When the children break his piņatas he smiles enjoying the happiness he has provided to the children.

Ancona has a picture on each page of Don Ricardo working on the piņata. The text is in English and repeated in Spanish. To help the reader the first word of the English text is red and the first word of the Spanish text is green. Some of the pages are difficult to read because the text wraps around the photographs.

This book does not lack Mexican cultural markers since Ancona photographed the book in a small village near Oaxaca.

Soto, Gary. The Skirt. 1992. New York: Delacorte. ISBN 0385306652.

The Skirt is a Gary Soto story about Miata Ramirez a Mexican American girl living in San Joaquin Valley, California.  Miata’s beautiful folklorico skirt belonged to her mother when she was Miata’s age.  Excited about her performance on Sunday she takes the skirt to school showing it to her friends. Many readers will identify with Miata’s dilemma she leaves the skirt on the school bus, and the performance is Sunday.  Miata hopes that her friend Ana sees the skirt on the bus seat and takes it home.  Miata races home and waits for Ana to call telling her she has the skirt.  Miata unable to wait any longer calls Ana hoping she has her folklorico skirt but she doesn’t have it.  Miata and Ana plan to meet the next day to get the skirt off the bus.  Saturday, Miata and Ana go to the school bus yard looking for the skirt.  After climbing on the hood of the busses Ana finally sees the skirt on the seat where the two girls sat on Friday.  Because Ana is smaller than Miata, she holds the bus door open while Ana slips in and gets the skirt.  At this point in the story the reader will breathe a sigh of relief just as Miata and Ana do, but Soto adds another twist to the story.  Miata has the skirt in her hands when they  begin to leave  Miata sees her father’s truck enter the bus yard.  What is he doing there? Did someone passing see the girls and tell him?  Ducking behind the bus Miata remembers that her father is there to work on one of the buses, one of the small jobs he does on the weekends.  Miata and Ana slip out of the bus yard unseen.

 

Soto fills the book with many cultural markers that will introduce Miata’s Mexican culture to the reader.  The story offers a blend of family ties, friendship and ethnic pride.  Readers will be introduced to a few Spanish words (prieta, Buenos, mi’ja), foods (frijoles, papas fritas), and culture.  Eric Velasquez pen and ink illustration and to the authentic elements Soto writes about in the story.  One illustration the stands out is when the family is seated in the dinning room hanging on the wall above the table  is a picture of Mayan symbols, representing the family’s connection with Mexico. The family is not dress any different from any family found in America until the end when Miata’s dances in her folkiorico skirt.

 

This is a darling book that will entertain readers while introducing them to the Mexican American culture.

 

Soto, Gary. Baseball in April and other stories. 1990. San Diego: Harcourt. ISBN 0152025731.