30 Picture Books to Celebrate the Diversity of Latinx Heritage

Read one book a day for Latinx Heritage Month, from September 15 to October 15, and every month after that. From migration and history to food and family, these works capture the many complexities and joys of the Latinx culture.

Read one book a day for Latinx Heritage Month, from September 15 to October 15, and every month after that. From migration and history to food and family, these works capture the many complexities and joys of the Latinx culture.

9 Kilometers by Claudio Aguilera. illus. by Gabriela Lyon. Eerdmans. ISBN 9780802856005.
 Gr 1-2–In this empathy-building picture book, a simple first-person narration is employed to share the story of a young boy traveling on foot to school in rural Chile across the titular nine kilometers, or 5.59 miles. His walk begins in the dark and cold as he ponders math equations using his own route, estimating the number of skips it would take to cross the distance he walks, and how slowly a snail or how quickly a puma might travel the same distance. His path takes him on roads, through wooded areas, beneath a barbed wire fence, through a pasture, and across a stream. As the boy travels closer to school, the illustrations become more verdant and lush. VERDICT With an overarching message that education is well worth the walk, this book is recommended for all picture book collections.

Tierra, Tierrita/Earth, Little Earth by Jorge Argueta. tr. by Elizabeth Bell. illus. by Felipe Ugalde Alcántara. Piñata Bks. ISBN 9781558859678. BL.
PreS-Gr 2–Mother Earth is all around, in every mineral, plant, and animal—from dawn to sunset, from water to fire. Acclaimed Nahua poet Argueta follows up his previous nature-themed picture books with this rumination on Mother Earth with Indigenous cosmovision at its heart. The one- to five-line Spanish-language verses, set on a light brown background on the verso page, progress through the book as if the words in black type were living beings, pouring gratitude to the one mother of all. The verses are separated by Mesoamericanlike iconography. The colored pencil illustrations on the recto pages communicate the book’s ambiance with detailed depictions that will resonate for children.  VERDICT An environmental picture book that connects young children with the positive emotions drawn from Mother Earth as the creator of all life.

Veo, Veo, I See You by Lulu Delacre. Atheneum. ISBN 9781665911917. BL. 
PreS-Gr 3–Readers join Marisol, younger brother Pepito, and their mother in a game of “I Spy” around the neighborhood in this charming story. The Latinx culture of the family is reflected in their speech, names, warm skin tones, and the delightful food Mami prepares. Mami speaks Spanish and the children reply in English during the game. The cafe where Mami works has been closed during the shelter-in-place phase of the recent pandemic. Marisol asks if “other people have work?” and Mami replies that those who are “muy necesarios” are still on the job. As the family takes a meal to their cousin’s home, they notice one essential worker after another. Collage illustrations capture scenes of bus drivers, pharmacists, firefighters, and others as they maintain essential services for the community. VERDICT Recommended for those building their collection of titles covering the COVID-19 pandemic, but this is also a wonderful choice for expanding bilingual titles.

Wepa by J. de la Vega. Lil’ Libros. ISBN 9781948066549. BL.
 PreS-Gr 2–Mia Emilia Lucia Renata is an active little girl with a big name. She views herself as exceptional, fashionable, and creative. Unfortunately, the grown-ups in her life label her flaws as clumsy, loud, and messy. While in the beginning of the story Mia appears tall and proud, the negative words from her loved ones diminish her. The only person who expressively values Mia is her abuela, who tells her that she simply has too much “wepa.” While this word, commonly used in Latin America does not have a literal English translation, the story describes it as magic. Wepa is meant to be shared with others. As Mia embraces her wepa, she returns to her essence as the exceptional little girl she believed herself to be. The quirky illustrations are bright and colorful. The palette of pinks and teals gives the book a fun, childlike appeal. Abuela sports an afro and big teal glasses. Children will be able to relate to Mia. VERDICT This little book preaches an important message of acceptance and respect without didacticism.

Viva’s Voice by Raquel Donoso. illus. by Carlos Vélez. Kind World. ISBN 9781638940067. 
PreS-Gr 2–A Latinx girl with a big voice inspires her picketing father to use his at a rally for workers’ rights. Rambunctious Viva has had a mighty voice since she was born. She especially loves to greet her bus driver father’s customers as they enter the vehicle. But when he goes on strike for better pay and benefits, she can’t ride with him anymore. As Viva’s soft-spoken father tries to step on the platform to make a speech, the brave girl stands alongside him and gives him a boost of courage. In this simple text, Donoso introduces readers to the concepts of workers’ rights, protest, and strikes through the eyes of a precocious little girl. The accessible narrative is complemented by vibrant, candy-colored illustrations. VERDICT This sweet and accessible primer on strikes is a solid choice.

Water Day by Margarita Engle. illus. by Olivia Sua. Atheneum. ISBN 9781665918718. 
Gr 1-4–A seemingly simple story that speaks to the importance of water conservation. Water day is a joyous occasion in a little girl’s Cuban neighborhood. The good news is spread by word of mouth; everyone is excited to have fresh water to slake the thirst of people, animals, and trees. Due to environmental and human-made changes, the community only has access to fresh water every five days. They must boil the water they collect for cooking, bathing, and getting rid of bodily waste until the next delivery. Engle presents this weekly ritual in spare, free verse, giving readers a look into an essential community occurrence that brings home the dire need for water conservation. Sua’s illustrations made on painted paper depict the liveliness with brilliant greens and majestic blues. Sprinkles of Spanish add to the sense of place. VERDICT Engle packs so much into just a few powerful sentences. An excellent choice.

La Mariachi by Isabel Estrada. illus. by Addy Rivera Sonda. Sleeping Bear. ISBN 9781534111912.
Gr 1-4–A love letter to mariachi that calls out its gendered history. Tuchi falls in love with mariachi and how it moves people to sing and dance. However, she’s told “Mariachi is only for boys,” and is discouraged from playing. She wishes on Señora Luna to help her achieve her dream. Disappointed, the girl hides in a storage room where moonbeams helpfully shine on a guitarrón case holding a traditional bass guitar. It belonged to her nana, who was also discouraged decades ago from pursuing her own desire to play the instrument. Inspired by her grandmother, Tuchi learns to play and blows everyone away at a school tryout. The rich and colorful illustrations reflect the narrative’s effervescence. Readers will cheer on Tuchi as she fights against outdated, sexist rules. VERDICT A powerful debut picture book that will inspire all girls to push against the obstacles that keep them from pursuing their passions.

 Con Pollo: A Bilingual Playtime Adventure by Jimmy Fallon & Jennifer Lopez. illus. by Andrea Campos. Feiwel & Friends. ISBN 9781250830418. BL.
PreS-K–Pollo is a small white chicken who just likes to play. And play, and play, and play—all day! The reader is invited to come along “con (with) Pollo,” in both English and Spanish. A series of questions are asked in English and reiterated in Spanglish. “Do you want to go to the beach? OR Go to la playa con pollo? Do you want to go skateboarding? OR Patinar con Pollo?” Simple, bold, colorful illustrations, reminiscent in style of Peep and the Big Wide World, are perfectly suited to grab and hold the attention of the intended audience. VERDICT A fun way to introduce Spanish vocabulary to young readers, with a character and formula that are worthy of additional titles. An excellent purchase for bilingual and general picture book collections.

Only a Trenza Away: A Tale of Trust and Strength by Nadine Fonseca. illus. by Camila Carrossine. Shadow Mountain. ISBN 9781639930982.
PreS-Gr 2–Every night, Xiomara looks forward to her father braiding her hair before bed. As he gently twists her hair into place, the pair share endlessly imaginative stories and adventures. No matter where the storytelling journey takes her, Xiomara knows she can do and accomplish anything with her father’s love. One night, after her father must work late and misses their routine, Xiomara begins to fear how she will overcome new obstacles without her father by her side. When they reunite, her father warmly and lovingly explains that while she may have to face certain experiences on her own, she will never be alone as the love of her family, strength, and support is woven into her braids. Fonseca’s soft, calming text expertly explores universal feelings of anxiety and worry, the infinite love of family, as well as the cultural and community traditions of braiding. Carrossine’s colorful illustrations capture the out-of-this-world adventures as well as the relatable worries and fears. VERDICT A touching and tender tale that will resonate with many readers.

Spanish Is the Language of My Family by Michael Genhart. illus. by John Parra. Holiday House/Neal Porter. ISBN 9780823450046.
 K-Gr 3–A powerful picture book that accessibly educates readers about linguistic discrimination and cultural resistance. The story is told from the perspective of a child entering his school’s annual Spanish spelling bee. While helping him practice, his grandma shares stories of how speaking Spanish in school was not only disdained when she was his age but also grounds for physical punishment. The child proudly celebrates his family’s language in the competition, spelling words like “poderoso/powerful” and “respeto/respect.”  Short, simple, and powerful sentences make the text perfect for reading aloud or independently. Parra’s distinctive style shines in the illustrations with many thoughtful details that will keep readers engaged. VERDICT An eye-opening and uplifting first purchase for children’s collections.

We also starred the Spanish edition of this picture book.

Remembering by Xelena González. illus. by Adriana M. Garcia. ISBN 9781534499638.
PreS-Gr 3–The Pura Belpré award-winning team shares a new story about the deep, familiar pain of losing a pet and the natural, continuous circle of life and death. In this hauntingly beautiful text, a family memorializes their dog through the cultural practice of creating an ofrenda and sharing memories on Día de Muertos. Through remembering, the family builds an altar with offerings to guide the spirit of their beloved friend home to them. The gorgeously illustrated movement of swirling spirit and marigold petals fills the pages. Garcia portrays heartfelt scenes with acrylic paint on paper, inspired by photos of real-life pet friends, with the living pictures inching outside of the frame as their memories continue to live on. VERDICT This poetic text with opulent illustrations is worthy of accolades.

Tango Red Riding Hood by Rachel S. Hobbs. illus. by Carolina Vázquez. Gnome Road. ISBN 9781957655147.
Gr 1-4–A Latinx retelling of Red Riding Hood with a dancing Red and a wolf eager to learn English. Moni is on her way to visit her abuela and is distracted by a music-playing lobo. Some “lost in translation” moments result in Moni running away from the wolf. The bold sound effects in the tale perfectly evoke the rhythm of dance and underscore Moni’s love for it. Vibrant colors in the illustrations support the upbeat tone that hints at the different direction this retelling will take. The depiction of people learning a new language is recreated with warmth and humor.  VERDICT A bright retelling with a real beat, this not only shares the experience of learning a language but will also be a story hour hit.

A Crown for Corina by Laeken Zea Kemp. illus. by Elisa Chavarri. Little, Brown. ISBN 9780759556843. 
K-Gr 2–It is Corina’s birthday, and as a special gift, she is able to select her favorite flowers Abuela’s garden to use to make her corona. With help from Abuela, Corina learns about selecting flowers that hold special meaning to her, which will help tell the story of who she is. Corina thinks about her family and selects flowers that remind her of them: sunflowers, morning glories, coneflowers, and more. She also makes sure to select blooms that symbolize who Corina would like to be. Corina’s crown of flowers is finally ready as her birthday guests arrive, and she shares the story of her corona and thinks about her family and their story long into the night. Colorful and vivid spreads welcome readers to the garden and the celebrations, sharing the beauty and love of Corina’s world. VERDICT A gorgeous picture book celebrating tradition, family, and memories. Highly recommended for school and public libraries.

Empanadas for Everyone by Jackie Azúa Kramer. illus. by Lenny Wen. S. & S. ISBN 9781665914581. 
PreS-Gr 2–Carina looks forward to taking the subway every weekend to visit her aunt’s bustling barrio and make Tia Mimi’s famous empanadas. This Saturday, however, her aunt is volunteering at the community food center. She leaves Carina a note asking her to prep the ingredients for the savory treats. With the encouragement of her Mami, Carina picks up coriander, achiote, and beef from the neighbors. Along the way, she’s reminded of both the universality and diversity of the empanada. The importance of community and what unites its members shine through on every page. A wordless spread featuring Carina and her new friends marching to the Meal Center with yummy snacks at hand, a display table, and a recipe for Puerto Rican empanadas will have readers’ mouths watering at the book’s close. VERDICT Shelve alongside Oge Mora’s Thank You, Omu! and include in food-themed story times. 

¡Essie! ¿Otra vez?/Again, Essie? by Jenny Lacika. illus. by Teresa Martinez. Charlesbridge. ISBN 9781623542214. BL.
PreS-Gr 2–Rafael’s little sister, Essie, is always running after him and knocking over his toys. While she naps, Rafael gets the idea to make a wall high enough so Essie can’t pass to where he and his toys are. Rafael collects numerous boxes of different sizes—cereal and puzzle boxes, shipping and Kleenex boxes, file organizers and a cooler—and gets to work. Rafael arranges and rearranges the boxes until he finally has a good-sized wall, and just in time as Essie wakes up! As she approaches, Essie easily knocks over the wall. Rafael realizes all she wants is to play with him, and soon they are working together to make a new wall. Colorful digital illustrations welcome readers into Essie and Rafael’s comfortable and loving home, while English and Spanish text narrates each step of Rafael’s careful plan. A glossary and suggestions for exploring math are included. VERDICT Featuring two Chicanx siblings, this bilingual picture book provides a fun view of how math and problem-solving skills can be applied in the everyday.

Do I Belong Here/¿Es este mi lugar? by René Colato Laínez. illus. by Fabricio Vanden Broeck. Arte Publico Pr. ISBN 9781558859685. BL.
Gr 1-4–René goes to school for the first time and is very confused. He tries to find his classroom, but the teachers and students don’t speak Spanish. When he arrives, he tries to understand what is being asked of him and takes the tests he is given, but is laughed at and gets a big red F. He feels like he doesn’t belong. With time, his Spanish-speaking friend Carlos and his soccer-loving friend Robert help him with his assignments and play with him at school. As even more time passes, he can start reading and writing in English. René finally feels as if he really does belong. When a new classmate joins the school only knowing Spanish, he reassures her that with time, she, too, will belong. VERDICT A bilingual text that offers an empathetic look at how immigrant children start to learn little by little and adapt to their surroundings and friends.

Pase lo que pase mañana by Rebecca Gardyn Levington. illus. by Mariona Cabassa. Barefoot. SP.
PreS-Gr 2–Readers of all ages will recognize the experiences of the characters in this beautiful picture book about anxiety and worries. Perhaps tomorrow the sun will shine, and you will enjoy a laugh with friends. Or, perhaps, it might be cold, you may feel loneliness, and you might face difficult decisions or obstacles. Lovely and lyrical prose pairs beautifully with vibrant, colorful illustrations to depict scenes of happiness, change, challenges, uncertainty, and hope. Readers are reminded that one of the things they can be sure of is themselves, and they are given tips to use whenever they are feeling anxious. VERDICT An excellent addition to Spanish picture book collections for children, and especially needed in the topics of worrying and anxiety.

 Jugo Fresco by Robert Liu-Trujillo. Lee & Low. ISBN 9781643796697. SP
Gr 1-4–Art and his father journey through the neighborhood seeking fresh ingredients to make a healing juice for the older man. At the market, neighbors offer various products from different places that are good for making juice. In the end, Art and his dad create the juice and recognize that “community” is the most important ingredient for this home remedy. The illustrations are rich in diversity, as the ingredients come from different cultures. The relationship between the two main characters is evident, and the lyrical text brings the message home without didacticism. Back matter includes a recipe. VERDICT This essential story conveys the warmth of community in just one serving.

Mariana and Her Familia by Mónica Mancillas. illus. by Erika Meza. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. ISBN 9780062962461.
 K-Gr 2–Mariana’s story imparts the challenges and strengths of families that are culturally and geographically distant. Mariana and her Mami are traveling to México to see her abuelita, tíos, tías, primos, and primas. When she mistakenly calls abuelita by aguelita, Mariana is overcome with embarrassment. Abuelita beckons to her, “Ven aquí.” Together they read a book about the Big Bad Wolf—un Lobo Hambriento—and Mariana is delighted as Abuelita tells the familiar tale in Spanish. Mariana’s feelings about not belonging fade quickly when she adds her fotografía to her family’s wall of pictures and joins them for a delicious meal. The dynamism and vibrancy of Mexican culture spills from the page in Meza’s gouache and watercolor pencil illustrations. The use of grayscale for skin tone, pops of painterly font, and playful perspective are unexpected visual twists that make this title a standout. VERDICT The warmth of Mariana’s close-knit yet far-flung family practically radiates off the page, and many young readers will relate.

Mother of Sharks by Melissa Cristina Márquez. illus. by Devin Elle Kurtz. Penguin Workshop. ISBN 9780593523582.
Gr 2-4–A fictionalized account of the author’s childhood in Puerto Rico. Melissa has a few minutes left to play outdoors in the ocean and swims out to a tide pool where she meets a hermit crab, who becomes her guide in the study and exploration of sharks. The beautiful painterly artwork shows the glory of aquatic life and imbues the joy in learning and then sharing the secrets of the ocean depths. The story is told from the first-person point-of-view of Melissa as a child, talking to a hermit crab who first appears in her dream life, building up towards her present life as a marine biologist. Short phrases in Spanish are clearly understood via context cues. VERDICT Important purchase for its representation of Latinx girls in the hard sciences.

Plátanos Go with Everything by Lissette Norman. illus. by Sara Palacios. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780063067516.
 PreS-Gr 3–Yesenia loves to spend time with her mother, making the Dominican treats their whole family loves. While the chicken, rice, and beans are cooking, they turn to plátanos, which look like the sun on the plates. “Plátanos are like warm hello kisses from Abuela,” who arrives with Abuelo, and lived with Yesenia when they first moved to the United States. Palacios’s vivid illustrations capture a very loving and colorful New York City where this family is starting a new life, and where they have brought the scents of home with them. As the narrator names triumph after triumph and cure after cure the plantains have accomplished, readers will be convinced that they, too, need more of this magic in their own lives.VERDICT A welcoming paean to home, recipes, and family, and although the emphasis is the Dominican Republic, there are few whose mouths will not water over these pages. A feast for cultural sharing, awakening, and creating.

Martina Has Too Many Tías by Emma Otheguy. illus. by Sara Palacios. Atheneum. ISBN 9781534445369.
PreS-Gr 2–Quiet Martina loves her loud, Cuban family full of tías, but when she hears they’re on their way for a family party, the girl groans. She’d rather go somewhere quiet, tell herself made-up stories, and think about the warm island home that she misses. She wanders into the kitchen and topples into a pot of hot guava. The steam transports her to her beloved island where she’s able to talk with the animals. She finally finds a quiet ratoncito to play with who also likes to use his imagination. In this kid-friendly retelling of the Cuban folktale “La Cucaracha Martina,” Otheguy explores how introverted kids can still feel at home in a family full of extroverts. Full of warmth, the narrative is adeptly complemented by Palacio’s friendly art. VERDICT A singular offering with many layers of storytelling, this is a must-have for all collections.

River of Mariposas by Mirelle Ortega. Cameron. ISBN 9781419760617. 
 PreS-Gr 2–While gazing at the Papaloapan, a river in Mexico, a child dreams of what the world looked like long before she was born. She is inspired by the river’s name—which roughly translates from Nahuatl to “butterfly river”—to make her own “river of mariposas” at home. Buoyed by the smell of Mamá’s cooking and the melody of her favorite song, she handcrafts dozens of delicate paper butterflies to decorate her backyard, with hopes of hosting a party for her neighbors to admire her creation. Mexican cultural touchstones alongside the soft, colorful illustrations give readers a sense of a time and place steeped in history yet still accessible to them and reflective of who they are today. VERDICT This is a heartfelt ode to Mexico and the power of children’s imaginations to impart beauty and wonder onto the world.

Plátanos Are Love by Alyssa Reynoso-Morris. illus. by Mariyah Rahman. Atheneum. ISBN 9781665902731. 
PreS-Gr 2–Esme and her abuela cook different dishes with plátanos, which can be found in many Latin American cuisines, while bonding over shared history and familial love. Plantains, and all the dishes they are used in, are delicious, but they mean more to Esme’s family and culture than something to eat. The grandmother shares with Esme and her little sister how plantains are the food of their ancestors; recipes were passed down in secret, because the formerly enslaved weren’t allowed to read or write. The love that goes into making each meal can be felt in every word and image in this joyous work. Sprinkled throughout with Spanish words, the narrative is lyrical and filled with fun food words that often appear in a different font and beg to be read aloud. The illustrations are luminous, with the warm browns and yellows of the cooked plátanos and the greens of the peels as a motif. The skin color of the characters are shades of brown, and the little girl’s family members’ different hair textures and hair styles reflect the diversity of Latin America. VERDICT A stunning, must-have picture book about food, community, and love.

Abuela’s Super Capa by Ana Siqueira. illus. by Elisa Chavarri. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780063113657. 
K-Gr 2–Saturdays are special for Luis and his abuela. That’s when they don their capes and become superhéroes, enjoying their super milkshakes and catching cupcake thieves. When Abuela doesn’t arrive one Saturday, Luis and his little sister Isabel learn that Abuela is not well. When she comes to live with them, Luis tries to give Abuela her cape, but what Abuela really needs is rest. Luis is sure this is goodbye to their superhero identities, until he realizes that there is someone who could be his sidekick. Bursting with color, this vibrant picture book conveys the special and fun relationship between a grandmother and her grandson, with a darkness falling over the family as Abuela falls ill, and an explosion of color returning as Luis realizes that although things may be different, they can still have fun. Lively text is sprinkled with Spanish words and phrases and reflects the love the family has for Abuela and the uncertainty Luis feels. VERDICT Beautiful and full of life, this picture book is an excellent choice for gently discussing the illness of a loved one as well as sharing the magical relationship between children and their grandparents. 

Papá’s Magical Water-Jug Clock by Jesús Trejo. illus. by Eliza Kinkz. Astra/Minerva. ISBN 9781662651045. 
K-Gr 3–It’s finally Saturday, and Jesús is super excited to help Papá in his gardening and landscaping work. Papá gives Jesús a very special task and puts him in charge of the barrilito that holds the water they will drink for the day, telling Jesús that when the water is gone from the water jug, it will mean the workday is over, and they can return home. Jesús helps by mowing the grass, pulling weeds, and bringing Papá water when he needs a cool drink. Jesús notices cats, dogs, and even some peacocks look like they could use a cool drink, too. Slowly, the water jug begins to empty, and Papá is shocked when there is no more water left. Papá explains they still have quite a bit of work left, and Jesús refills the water jug and works hard to conserve it this time. Together, Jesús and his father work hard and the next time the barrilito is empty, it really is time to head home. Colorful watercolor illustrations and Jesús’s attitude—which is bursting with excitement and positivity—will pull readers in right away. Both English and Spanish text versions convey this positive attitude and the joy and love between Jesús and his father, with thought and speech bubbles adding to the conversations between them. VERDICT Bursting with color and with life, this picture book about a young boy’s day helping his father has something new to explore with every read through. We also starred this title in Spanish.

Buscando a Bongo by Eric Velasquez. Holiday House. ISBN 9780823453993.
PreS-Gr 3–A young boy loses his stuffed animal Bongo and searches all around the house asking about him. He asks his mother, father, grandmother, cat, and dog, and no one seems to know where he is. Finally, he finds Bongo near the bongos (a small hand drum used commonly in Caribbean music). The artwork is lively and detailed. Thoughtful attention to detail is seen throughout, with nods to the family’s Afro-Caribbean heritage and love for music and art found in the background. The relatable preschooler and his search for his stuffy will resonate with children, and the painterly, realistic illustrations ground the narrative. VERDICT Much-needed representation and a universal problem make this sweet, family-centered tale a must for Spanish-language picture book shelves. 



Cantora: Mercedes Sosa, the Voice of Latin America by Melisa Fernández. Knopf. ISBN 9780593645970.
Gr 2-5–A rich, inspiring picture book biography about a Latin American icon. Mercedes Sosa grew up in rural Argentina. She performed folk music that resounded with messages of justice and human rights. Sosa became a symbol of resistance and believed that she could be the voice of the voiceless. Her popularity and strong stance grabbed the attention of the Argentinian dictatorship in the 1970s, and she was banned and arrested. The author-illustrator’s admiration of the subject shines through the text and the illustrations. From the flowers and musical notes scattered throughout and the braided pattern found on the endpapers, the vivid palette of mostly reds, purples, oranges, and pinks fills the pages, lending a feeling of awe and celebration to the work. VERDICT Artists continue to be voices of resistance. Readers are introduced to a wonderful example in this impressive debut.

Jovita Wore Pants: The Story of a Mexican Freedom Fighter by Aida Salazar. illus. by Molly Mendoza. Scholastic. ISBN 9781338283419.   
Gr 2-5–A gorgeous picture book about a groundbreaking woman who fought for gender equality and made a mark on Mexican history. Told by the subject’s great-niece and based on her memoir, this biography centers around Jovita Valdovinos, a young woman who longed to wear pants and follow in her brothers’ and father’s footsteps as they revolted against the socialist Mexican government that took away citizens’ right to practice their religion freely. The daring and courageous teenager went against her family’s wishes, cut off her hair, wore pants, renamed herself Juan, and led fellow peasants in the Cristeros War (1926-29). This telling hits the perfect balance of lively and lyrical, giving readers the sense that this larger-than-life legend is worthy of awe and celebration. The empowering message that young people should cast gender-limiting stereotypes and barriers aside to do what’s right will feel revelatory for readers. Mendoza’s bright, jewel-toned images seem to leap off the page, perfectly matching Valdovinos’s sweeping story. Readers will be able to feel the wind on their faces as she gallops on her horse and accomplishes great feats. VERDICT Purchase this outstanding picture book biography for all nonfiction collections.

 A Land of Books: Dreams of Young Mexihcah Word Painters by Duncan Tonatiuh. Abrams. ISBN 9781419749421.
Gr 2-5–A young girl tells her brother the story of the tlahcuilohqueh, painters of words. Tonatiuh has created a story that blends cultures and historical facts into words students will understand. The mix of English and Spanish comprise a simple vocabulary aided by a glossary at the end which facilitates bilingual readers and learners alike. The spare text on each page is very visible against the fantastic illustrations. Tonatiuh continues to create beautiful depictions of his heritage, with each illustration showing exactly what the text addresses, and making certain parts of the Mexihcah book process much clearer. The simple details of his drawings are amazing; at the end of the book, readers will understand just how authentically the illustrations hew to actual pictures of the handful of remaining codices. VERDICT Once again Tonatiuh has gathered history, language, and stories into a cultural gift to readers; an excellent book for students who want to learn how books are made, those who love history (even the difficult parts), and anyone interested in learning about Mexihcah culture.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing