Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New Books From Cinco Puntos Press

El Gran Viaje del Señor Caca

by Angèle Delaunois
illustrated by Marie Lafrance
translated by Daniel Zolinski

A smart wolf in a lab coat leads kids on a journey through their digestive system. A little girl eats an apple for a snack (crunch, crunch), and the apple drops into the esophagus (glug, glug) before a stop in the stomach. At each stop along the way the wolf explains in simple scientific terms what the body is doing. After the pit stop in the stomach, what remains of the apple must enter the small intestine (gurgle, gurgle), then the large intestine, and finally . . . well, you know. Hint: It doesn’t smell like roses here.

This delightful book marries Angèle Delaunois’ kid-sized scientific text with Marie Lafrance’s joyful kinetic illustrations to teach children what really does go on inside their bodies.

by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
illustrated by Esau Andrade Valencia

What do dreams mean? Are they visions from the past, or are they premonitions of something yet to happen, are they just a big mix rising up from all the delicious food you ate before you slept, or do they speak to you of your own mortality in a way that nothing else really can. And what’s a perfect season for dreaming—for Octavio Rivera it’s when he’s ninety-two.

And lucky for everyone who decides to read A Perfect Season for Dreaming, Octavio Rivera is a beautiful dreamer. And lately he has been visited by some very interesting dreams—dreams about piñatas that spill their treasures before him, revealing kissing turtles, winged pigs, hitchhiking armadillos and many more fantastic things! Octavio doesn’t tell anyone about his dreams, not the first night, not the second, not the next or the next or the next, but finally he can’t stand it anymore and he wants to tell someone so bad that his heart hurts. So he decides that the only one he can trust with his dreams, the only one who won’t make fun of him or excuse him for being too old or eating too much chorizo, the only one who will understand how beautiful dreams are is his young granddaughter Regina because she also has beautiful and fantastic dreams. So he tells her everything, and she exclaims:

“Oh, oh, oh! You are the most beautiful dreamer in the world, Tata Tabo! The most beautiful, beautiful dreamer in the world!”

And that sets Octavio Rivera free to enjoy one last lovely dream, a sky full of sweet and perfect hummingbirds calling his name over and over again…

Mexican Folk Art ABCs in Spanish & English

by K.B. Basseches / Cindy Weill
illustrated by Moisés & Armando Jiménez

Delicate hand-painted animals from Oaxaca lead little ones through a bilingual alphabet.

Every ABC book worth its cover price is bound to have bright colors and big letters. But not every ABC book has magical hand-carved animals to illustrate each letter. And very few alphabet books present those letters in more varieties than English! Very few alphabet books except ABeCedarios, that is! In this brightly colored book, the alphabet is presented in both Spanish and English and is illustrated with beautiful hand-carved alebrijes from the world renowned Jímenez family.

Oaxacan alebrijes and the Jimenéz family

Manuel Jimenéz is usually credited as being the father of the popular carved animals, often referred to as alebrijes because of their similarity with the fanciful papier mache sculptures popular in Mexico since the 1930s.

Jimenéz grew up in Arrazola, Oaxaca in Mexico and worked as a shepherd for many years. Alone in the wilderness tending his sheep, he began to carve animal figures from copal wood. According to ABeCedarios author K.B. Basseches, Jimenéz did what is natural for artists—he captured the spirit of what was around him. As a shepherd, that happened to be animals.

Jimenéz started to sell his wood carvings in the late 50s and by the late 60s was exhibiting in museums in Mexico and the U.S. However, the figures did not truly take off until the 80s, when Santa Fe décor and style became popular in the United States. The small, brightly colored figures complement the adobe and bright Mexican or Indian colors and patterns.

As people in Arrazola and surrounding regions saw the Jimenéz family’s success, they took up the art form too and the region became known for its wood carvings. Since the 1990s, this popularity has been the catalyst for an economic boom that has allowed Arrazola to develop health clinics, pave roads, build a church and plaza, construct sewers, and facilitate education for children.

The technique used to create alebrijes appears simple on the surface but requires an eye for form. The artisans will work with the natural form of copal wood pieces to shape particular figures. Using a machete, they cut off all the bark and trace out the figure. Then, using a smaller knife, they cut out all the body parts. The sculpture is left to dry in the sun for a week. As the wood dries in the sun, cracks are sanded and sealed. Finally, it is painted with acrylic paints. It takes approximately one week to create a single sculpture.

Although many families in Arrazola are now making their living or supplementing their income through woodcarving, author Cynthia Weill says that the animals created by the Jimenéz family are distinct: simple, clean, and sleek.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can't resist a book with Sr. Caca in the title.