Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Charro Claus and the Tejas Kid

By Xavier Garza

  •            Age Range: 5 - 12 years
  •         Grade Level: Kindergarten - 6
  •         Hardcover: 40 pages
  •         Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press; Bilingual edition
  •         Language: English, Spanish
  •         ISBN-10: 193369324X
  •         ISBN-13: 978-1933693248

“Even Santa Claus sends the jobs he is unable or unwilling to do to this colorful storybook by local author-illustrator Xavier Garza...The simple South Texas Christmas tale is printed in both English and Spanish, allowing for several different bilingual reading opportunities...Charro Claus is the perfect gift for the children of your Minute Men relatives.” —San Antonio Current, Nov. 19, 2008

Let’s welcome Santa’s newest helper: his cousin Pancho, a farmer living down in South Texas who is so smart he speaks both Spanish and English. Back in the day, Pancho was a mariachi singer with a whole lot of style and a fancy sombrero. But as the years passed, Pancho got, well, a little older and a little wider all around. Then one night his primo Santa Claus showed up. Santa needed some help along the US/Mexico border. Pancho volunteered. And then, poof, Santa transformed Pancho into the resplendent Charro Claus with his incredible Flying Burritos. And Charro Claus, it turns out, even had his own surprise elf—his nephew Vincente!

All Christmas Eve, Vincente and Pancho deliver toys to the boys and girls on the border. Neither rain, cloudy skies, wire fences, or concrete walls keep them from covering every inch of their newly assigned territory. And they don’t forget a single town or city. How could they? The border is their home.

A native of the Rio Grande Valley, Xavier Garza is a prolific author, artist, teacher, and storyteller whose work is a lively documentation of the dreams, superstitions, and heroes in the bigger-than-life world of South Texas. Garza has exhibited his art and performed his stories in venues throughout Texas, Arizona, and Washington State. He lives with his wife and son in San Antonio, Texas, and is the author of five books. His book Maximilian & the Mystery of the Guardian Angel was a Pura Belpré Author Honor Book in 2012.


"Garza’s original text and bold, full-page illustrations will surely pull readers into the excitement of this new 'border' story. A wonderful acquisition." — Críticas

"The full-spread paintings are bright and energetic … A cheerful purchase." — School Library Journal

"Charro Claus is the perfect gift for the children of your Minute Men relatives." — San Antonio Current

"Bold, stylized cartoon-like illustrations help this creative author/illustrator tell the story of Santa Claus' Mexican cousin—telling it in both English and Spanish." —Children's Literature

"[This] bilingual retelling of the Santa Claus myth with a South Texas twist, brought vividly to life by Garza's colorful, expressive drawings." —San Antonio Express-News book blog

"This fascinating story reflects small-town Texas life and the magic of the holiday season." —Tucson Citizen

"This charming story will be embraced by children who do not see their lieves reflected in the traditional snowy Santa tales. Recommended."—REFORMA Newsletter

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

A Penny for the Old Guy, two views redux.

Late-Breaking News!

La Bloga has been found to meet community standards after all allowing Facebook users to share links that include the letters   and not be blocked by the all-potent Face.  Face changed its mind.

Thank you for reading La Bloga despite the Face, and for your patience, and for sending your two cents to the Face. We blogueras blogueros appreciate you.

Editor's Note
Fourteen days ago I went airborne walking at six miles an hour on near-level ground. My right toe found the only deviation-from-level spot along that particular quarter-mile of sidewalk. I rolled to my left to protect the already injured right shoulder. Now I have half a left and half a right arm. Can’t play piano. Can’t type readily, so for the upcoming recuperation I’m sharing notable columns from the fourteen years La Bloga has existed.
--michael sedano

Pennies For the Old Guy
Speaking of pennies, you know the line “a penny for the old guy”? Somewhere in the back of his mind, Eliot must have been thinking of Odysseus as the old guy and Penelope, ever-crafty and dependable as rosy-fingered dawn, the hero's Penny.

I like Penelope especially for being so positive and sunny. Electra, Jocasta, Andromache--hasta Creseyda--the mujeres of Classic Greek literature aren’t going to be any kid’s hallowe’en costume.

But noble Penelope! Long before “me too,” patient Mrs. Odysseus knew, “¡you’ll get yours, pendejoi!”

Penelope doesn't get her due, no matter who's translating Homer. For contemporary stylings, here are a pair of Penelope reviews by Michael Sedano, from 2006 and 2013. The fotos are sculpture displayed at the Getty Villa on the unburned portion of the Malibu coastline. Click here to view a Facebook-hosted gallery of photo-allowed frames from the museum.

March 2006
Review: Margaret Atwood. The Penelopiad. NY: Canongate, 2005. 
ISBN 1-84195-717-8.
Michael Sedano
From link:

Devotees of the great writers of American literature may find it unseemly to say someone "stumbled across" a Margaret Atwood title, but that's what I did recently when I picked up the north-of-the-border novelist's The Penelopiad.

Atwood nearly always leaves me reeling in delight, as she did in The Handmaid's Tale and The Robber Bride. But because I had not much enjoyed Oryx and Crake–found it obscure and a small deviation from the writer's usual quality–I wasn't looking for another title of hers when my eyes caught the thin (198 pages) spine's almost illegible title, then noted the writer's name.

What a grand idea, telling Penelope's story! For thousands of years, people have celebrated Odysseus. The Iliad's nine years fighting the Trojan war, then the trickster's own story of the long sail home, only to find his household in thrall to treasure-seekers.

Penelope's is the backstory. Crafty Odysseus' equally crafty spouse spinning a cloak during the day, then unravelling it during the night as a strategem to hold off the greedy suitors' demands. Atwood will have none of this backstory stuff, starting the tale with the 15 year old girl on her wedding day wondering which of the contestants would win her, then fleshing out the story of a lonely girl in a foreign city, an uncaring suegra, a bossy handmaiden and a chorus of the hanged.

Homer's story winds to a close with Odysseus and Telemachus wreaking revenge on the suitors. After the slaughter, twelve slave girls, identified as collaborators, are assigned to clean up the blood and gore, then taken outside and hanged. But the story of the hanged slaves intrigues Atwood and she builds the tale around them. As the writer observes in her foreward: "the maids form a chanting and singing Chorus which focuses on two questions that must pose themselves after any close reading of The Odyssey: what led to the hanging of the maids, and what was Penelope really up to? The story as told in The Odyssey doesn't hold water: there are too many inconsistencies. I've always been haunted by the hanged maids; and, in The Penelopiad, so is Penelope herself." (xv)

The heuristic of building a novel from a cherished myth is the idea behind the publisher's myth series. In addition to Atwood's work, Canongate recruited Chinua Achebe, AS Byatt, and others to delve into old stories in new ways.

Atwood relishes the retelling. There's Penelope in Hades, remembering various heroes trekking in search of answers, blooding a beast into a trench, then, "Once the right number of words had been handed over to the hero we'd all be allowed to drink from the trench, and I can't say much in praise of the table manners on such occasions." Pity the reader devoid the classics, they'll miss so much fun: "Odysseus had been in a fight with a giant one-eyed Cyclops, said some; no, it was only a one-eyed tavern keeper, said another, and the fight was over non-payment of the bill."

The story of the twelve--thirteen, actually, according to Atwood--hanged slavegirls, along with Penelope's satisfaction hearing that Helen looked old during a visit by Telemachus to Meneleus' court, shows the fun a writer can enjoy when imagination runs freely through classic texts, plots, and characters.
Fotos: michael sedano, at Getty Villa.

October 2013
Finding a Voice for Penelope
Review: Tino Villanueva. So Spoke Penelope. Cambridge MA: Grolier Poetry Press, 2013.
ISBN: 9781891592027 1891592025
From link.
Michael Sedano

The woman approached me in the hall, outside the seminar at the New York Sheraton, book in hand. Now I’m generally not open to hallway sales pitches, but the law of Zeus Xenia requires fairness to strangers, so I let her engage me.

It is the best hallway conversation I can remember. The woman had brought along a single copy of Hay Otra Voz Poems by Tino Villanueva.

No, I admitted, I was not familiar with the poetry nor the poet. I flipped through the artisan-crafted pages that just covered the palm of my hand, scanning a line or two. Yes. Yes, wow. Spanish, English, mezcla. Then I read one at random, “Aquellos Vatos.” An instant classic, I had to own this volume.

That was 1972 or maybe 1973. Today, Villanueva comes forth with another instant classic of chicano literature, So Spoke Penelope. Published in a limited edition of only 800 copies, the slim volume of 60 pages presents 36 one- and two-page meditations Odysseus’ wife consoles herself with over the 20 years her husband went missing in the Trojan War.

Calculating Penelope’s age to be nineteen when her husband sails off to war, the woman ages across the poems until, at the eve of her fortieth year, her story reunites with Odysseus’ in a bloodbath that isn’t mentioned in Penelope’s rapture and falling into bed with her long-absent lover.

Readers will enjoy the sweep of years that creates a poetic plot in Penelope’s biography. Villanueva picks moments of thought at 5 years, then six, ten, eighteen, twenty years, to illustrate Penelope’s determination to wait out the painful absence.

Homer didn’t know Puccini, but Villanueva certainly does. When certain images recall un bel di, it comes as an irony that the smoke Butterfly seeks on the horizon will bring only tragedy, while the sails Penelope longs to see will fulfill the three motives that Villanueva has invested her with, seething passion, desperate patience, and good wife faithfulness.

It’s curious that “home” is a rarely-visited thought throughout the collection. Penelope wants Odysseus back, wants to be wrapped in his passionate arms, wants him in bed, in Ithaca, wants to see his sails on the horizon. All that wanting, longing and absence, yet Penelope’s vocabulary rarely mentions “home.”

Only in the sixth year of wanting does the word enter Penelope’s vocabulary. “Home” implies permanence and resolution, qualities Penelope cannot grasp because she’s stuck in a world of ever-shifting never-satisfied wants and hopes, seemingly at the mercy of gods and goddesses that have already mucked up her world. So she weaves.

Villanueva writes for readers familiar with the Odyssey, rewards their knowledge with a rich tapestry of allusions, and dramatic ironies pointing to the larger context of world literature. Penelope wonders if Odysseus has taken up with another woman, not knowing how Kirke seduced her husband on the other side of this story.
Penelope wonders if Odysseus has been captured, and the reader thinks how crafty polytropos used a word game to blind the one-eyed Cyclops and escape captivity.

At their most elemental level, So Spoke Penelope is love poetry. Richly textured from classical literature, each piece nonetheless stands on its own. Each poem deserves to be taken for itself, read one at a time, in any order. They stay with one, these poems, long after closing the book.

So Spoke Penelope is under translation now for Spanish and French readers, and possibly Hangul. From Margaret Atwood's Penelopiad now to Tino Villanueva’s romantic exploration, after 2500 years or so, it’s good seeing Penelope coming into her own. Visit the Grolier on-line bookshop (link) to order your copies.

Fotos: michael sedano, at Getty Villa.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Tía Chucha's Centro Cultural has the perfect book for those on your holiday gift list

If you’re still looking for that perfect present for those on your holiday list and you want to support a vibrant cultural center, why not visit—in person or online—Tía Chucha’s Centro Cultural in Sylmar?

Tia Chucha's independent bookstore is a social venture which recognizes that books and knowledge must be accessible to communities that reflects their culture, histories, stories and values. The bookstore specializes in providing great books on Xicanx/Latinx history and literature, indigenous knowledge, bilingual children’s books, contemporary and social commentary issues, as well as Spanish-language, queer/LGBTQ, art, poetry, and much more!

Check out the wonderful titles you can give to your family and friends by clicking this link. Or, if you’d rather visit, the address is 13197 Gladstone Ave., Sylmar, CA 91342. The staff is friendly and helpful, and there’s something special about browsing through books before making a choice.

One of the hot titles is Good Morning Aztlán by Louie Pérez who is a master musician and innovative visual artist who has spent the last forty years as a founding member and principal songwriter for the internationally acclaimed group Los Lobos. Working with his songwriting partner, David Hidalgo, Pérez has written more than four hundred songs. Many of those songs, along with previously unpublished poems and short stories as well as paintings, sketches, and photos, are collected in this deeply personal, yet universally appealing volume. The book also features essays by musicians, artists, and scholars who artfully dissect the significance of Pérez’ work. Good Morning, Aztlán is, without question, a different kind of memoir.

Tía Chucha’s began as a café, bookstore and cultural space owned and run by former Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis J. Rodríguez, his wife Trini Rodríguez, and their brother-in-law Enrique Sánchez. Tía Chucha’s provides year-round on-site and off-site free or low-cost arts and literacy bilingual intergenerational programming in mural painting, music, dance, writing, visual arts, healing arts sessions (such as reiki healing) and healing/talking circles. Workshops and activities also include Mexica ("Aztec") dance, indigenous cosmology/philosophy, and two weekly open mic nights (one in Spanish, the other in English). Tía Chucha’s Centro Cultural hosts author readings, film screenings, and art exhibits as well.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Meeting the Real Maurice Ruffin

Melinda Palacio

Maurice Carlos Ruffin's Amazing Debut Novel
We Cast a Shadow
Meeting the Real Maurice Carlos Ruffin
Melinda Palacio

Maurice Carlos Ruffin is a name you may soon never forget. He has written a novel that sheds light on all the twisted and ugly notions about racism and bigotry in this country. His satirical novel is set in a Southern town where an affluent person of color can pay big bucks to undergo treatment that will make them more white, from thinner lips to a full experimental demelanization process. The story is a haunting view of one black father who has drunk so much of the assimilation Kool-Aid that he believes whitening his biracial son’s skin will offer the child an easier life and better prospects as an adult. This book succeeds on so many levels, not just its satirical and shocking plot, but Ruffin is a master storyteller with a poet’s attention to detail and a craftsman’s attention to the elements of story. 

From his early days six years ago, sharing scenes from his novel-in-progress, Ruffin knew he was on to something big and important. One listener told he he was going to be very famous and the writing on the wall is just the beginning from Poets & Writers Magazine, Goodreads, Publishers Weekly, Cosmopolitan, and the New York Times. The first chapter of the novel won the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition for Novel-in-Progress. 

When I asked Maurice about what it was like getting past the first chapters of his manuscript, he mentioned that he was able to find his footing with the book once he heard the voice of his main character speaking. “It was like talking to spirits,” he said, “I asked the character to tell me the highlights of the story.” By day, Maurice is a social security lawyer. His main character also happens to be a lawyer, but it is certainly not him. Maurice is very comfortable in his own skin: “I’m fortunate my parents gave me self-confidence in my appearance.” However, like his character, simply by being black, Ruffin has experienced what it’s like to be a minority in white spaces: “people in law firms have been shocked that I’m intelligent, that I have more honors than my bosses.” The other day, at a buffet, a lady assumed he was one of the workers. 

In his imaginative contribution to the literary canon, Maurice paints a cautionary tale about what goes wrong when we don’t live up to our expectations: “I thought about what would happen if my life went completely wrong.” Maurice enjoys speaking to students and kids. His message is the same one he’s learned from authors such as Toni Morrison and Nikki Giovanni, ‘Pay attention, be honest about what’s happening’.

 I asked Maurice if there was anything else we had not touched upon in our interview. He wanted readers to know that while he does not write everyday, he finds the act of writing enjoyable and a lot of fun. Second, he is very happy about the cover of his book.

 I was also fortunate to grab some time with the author before Oprah and the world get a hold of him. The book is We Cast a Shadow, available for pre-order and on sale January 29, 2019, Penguin Random House. 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Just Another Sunday

      Daniel Cano                                                                            
Surveying Tiburcio's hiding place, Vasquez Rocks
     I try picking up the little cockroaches (my grandchildren, so dubbed by “Zeta”) some Sundays for different outings in and around LA. Most of the time, we end up at neighborhood parks, where the older cockroaches shoot baskets or throw passes and the younger ones play on the slides and swings.
      Other times, we drive into the SM mountains to Topanga or Chautauqua and let them explore dry riverbeds, dirt trails, and caves, like when I’d take their parents as kids.
     Once, at an old Boy Scout camp, Camp Slauson, we found fossils embedded in rock. At the time, the little cockroaches were into prehistoric stuff, probably because the Disney movie Dinosaurs. The kids couldn’t believe they’d found something older than their grandpa cockroach, by a few million years.
     I remember one time my grandson, Roman, picking at the loose skin on my knuckles, asked how I got so old. I was in my late 60s, pretty good shape, in my mind. I started to answer and realized I had no answer. Freud, Socrates, and Sartre failed me. Not even Dr. Phil came to my rescue.
     Then there was the time I took them to the San Pedro Harbor. They “oohed” and “aahed” at the massive ships coming and going from around the world. It may have been a bit much for them to take in, the vastness of it all, so we headed down to the beach, under the lighthouse to the tidepools, filled with all sorts of creepy, crawly ocean bugs.
     I pointed to teachers and students surveying ocean life, and began explaining the importance of oceanography, biology, and archeology, subjects way beyond me, in school. They couldn’t wait for me to clam up (excuse the pun), so they could begin their search.                                                                            
Roman, Eli, Nico and the octopus
     A few minutes later, the two oldest cockroaches, Eli and Roman, started calling that they’d found an octopus. When a couple of hundred eyes landed on them, I pretended I didn’t know the two lost urchins. Of course, I was dubious, at best. A minute later, a group of people crowded around them.
     “Grandpa Danny, you have a pencil?” Eli asked, as I approached.
     I handed him the black Bic I had in my pocket. He put it into the water, and magically, it vanished.
     “Put your finger in there, Eli,” Roman dared him. “See how it feels.”
     “Should I, Grandpa Danny?”
     I was as curious as the next guy,but I wasn’t about to put my finger in there, so I said, “Go ahead.”
     Eli reached down and dipped his index finger into the clear pool. From under a rock, out came a short tentacle, suction cups and all, wrapping itself around his finger. He quickly retreated, laughed and said, "It was pulling on me."
     Like Doc, in Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, I’d been to the tidepools many times, taking my own cockroach children there back in the early 70s and never encountered anything larger than spongy-like, hairy creatures. Don’t ask me to identify or name the myriad of things clinging to those rocks.
     Eli basked in his minor celebrity as everyone asked how it felt.
     An added benefit to our Sunday forays into the unknown is that by the time we make it home, they are sleepy and ready for bed. Which brings me to this past Sunday, around 2:30 PM, kind of late to do anything meaningful, but the neighborhood parks sounded so boring.
     They jumped into my Prius, tearing themselves away from their video games, which might be an out-of-date term now. I don’t know. The only game I ever played was called “Pong.”
     “Where we going?” Eli asked.
     I got a brainstorm. I told them, “We are going to see a bandit’s hideout.”                                                                                        
"From here, you can see anyone coming"
     Eli, eleven, didn’t seem too impressed, but the younger cucarachas, Nico, five, and Noemi, three, were all ears. They knew me well enough to know a story was coming. So, I started. “His name was Tiburcio Vasquez. He was born in California when this was still Mexico.” Then it dawned on me. Did they even know the concept of a state, or a nation, of Anglo American, European, or Mexican?
     On their father’s side, they call their grandmother, who speaks little English and mostly Spanish, "Abuelita" and their grandfather "Abuelito".
     “Hey, Grandpa Danny,” said, Nico, “how come we don’t call you abuelito?”
     “Because everybody calls me Grandpa Danny.”
     Noemi said, in her babyish diction, “Abuelita is abuelita. Granpa is Grandpa.”
     Nico said, “No, Noemi, Abuelita means grandma.”
     Noemi insisted. “No! It not! Her just abuelita. That her name.”
     Nico, getting frustrated, responded, “Noemi. That’s what abuelita means. It means grandma,” at which point, Noemi broke out into sobs.
     I realized they both had a point. One was arguing translation and the use of a capital letter versus a lowercase letter. Noemi was arguing “Abuelita.” Nico was arguing “abuelita.”
     From the front seat, Eli shouted, “Would you both just keep quiet.”
     We were leaving West LA and heading to Vasquez Rocks, in between Santa Clarita and Lancaster, a 45-minute drive without traffic. With traffic, it was anyone’s guess. I knew I was pushing it, especially as darkness falls by 5:15 PM, followed by cold air.
     Sunday traffic was heavy on the 405 North. I veered into the faster lanes to avoid all the cars exiting the offramps between LA and the Valley. The traffic cleared once I passed the 101 North and South, where, luckily, all the cars were headed towards Ventura or Los Angeles.
     Then came the questions every parent (or abuelito) driving kids hates to hear. “We there yet?” “How much longer?” “Where did you say this place is?” Which made me question my bright idea.
     Eli had his phone and was listening to—something. The kids in their carseats wanted to know the story about this bandit Tiburcio Vasquez. So, to pass the time, I complied, remembering what my father had told me about Vasquez when I was a child, and we passed through Vasquez Rocks on our way to a couple of swimming holes out by Soledad Canyon.
     Of course, as an English teacher (three years retired),  with an interest in California literature, I had read much about the so-called “gentleman bandit,” ladies' man, charmer, robber, and cattle thief. But before I started the narrative, the doubts crowded in.
     Did I really want to portray Vasquez as a bandit to these little cockroaches, a thief and common criminal, a murder and rapist, which many of his adversaries say he was? After all, baby cucarachas are impressionable. What I say could stay with them a lifetime.
     After their idyllic childhoods pass, reality will confront them. Someone, perhaps an innocent friend, an ignorant teacher, or an outright bully will ask why their skin is a little less white, their accents slightly a kilter, or their last name, Jimenez, un-American sounding.
     It might not happen until they are adults when they find themselves losing a job, or a promotion, to someone less qualified and less hardworking, but with whom the boss is more comfortable. Social justice and criminal behavior are complex issues for adults, let alone young cockroaches.
Baby cucarachas in a cave
     Maybe I should tell the story of Vasquez as a freedom fighter, which some say he was, a Mexican Robin Hood, like Spider Man or Captain America, a Mexican suffering injustice from those who would steal his people's land. In his book, Eternity Street, a study of early Anglo Los Angeles’ lawlessness, John Mack Faragher writes of the elusive Vasquez’s eventual capture. “Crowds flocked to the jail, not to lynch Vasquez but to gawk at him. In interviews with reporters Vasquez portrayed himself as a persecuted Californio who had acted to defend the honor of his countrymen. He sat for a photographic portrait that sold like hotcakes.”
     A number of his jailers even brought whiskey to the jail to share a drink with Vasquez.
     No doubt, the historical Vasquez, who spoke both English and Spanish, is a complex character, notorious yet popular, criminal and rebel, a media sensation, for sure, the John Gotti of the old West. Women swooned over him. Husbands hated him. The downtrodden protected him.
     How could I explain that Vasquez's capture came but three years after vigilantes lynched 18 Chinese Angelenos for a questionable crime. Even in 1870s, thirty years after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Angelenos, both American and Californios, feared men like Vasquez, not just for criminal activity, but for fear of him forming a resistance movement to retake Californio lands, a Califonio reconquista, of sorts.
     I finally reach the 14, the turnoff to Lancaster, nearly there.
     I switch from history to geography and point to the mountains and canyons, something more concrete, tangible, objective, as the poet William Carlos Williams stated, "No ideas but in things."
     “Look, can you imagine riding all that way from Los Angeles on a horse, with a posse chasing you, and sometimes, there wasn’t even a trail. Mexicans were the first cowboys. Nobody could ride better.”
     I wanted to give them some pride.
     They responded, “We there, yet?”
     I wanted to explain  how even in early California, the conservative Californios, those from the north, "Nortenos," mostly, wanted to keep the mission system in place and strict adherence to the Church. Why change things? Those early leaders, like Micheltorena, felt they might even work with the Americans who were beginning to invade the region in larger numbers, even if those early civilized Californios saw the Americans as dirty, uncouth, drunkards.
     Then on the other side, the progressive Surenos, like Juan Baptista Alvarado and Jose Antonio Castro, liberals, who wanted to break the power of the Church and mission system, free the Indians, and open mission lands to privately own ranches and haciendas. They believed in a partnership with the liberal Americans who had begun settling Los Angeles, dressing like rancheros, marrying Mexican women, and raising Mexican-American children.
     All the while, the American government in Washington was collaborating with American militias, trying to lure Californios into a fracas, any excuse to send in the regular military. As the Californios began losing control, lynching and vigilantism became the law of the land, and it was mostly “unruly” or “disobedient” Mexicans, Indians, and outlaw Americans dangling from the ends of the ropes. It was in this setting that Joaquin Murrieta, Juan Flores, and Tiburcio Vasquez were born.
     As I turn off onto the Vasquez Rocks exit, we begin to see the jagged rocks in the distance. From the parking lot, the kids are mesmerized at the jagged peaks rising from the sand, rock formations, the work of a mad artist.                                                                                    
Noemi, Nico, Eli, a peek at history
     Then come the questions. Where did Vasquez hide? How many men rode with him? Where did he get his food? How could the hide so many horses? Can we climb the rocks? And out they scampered, up the side of the cliffs, with me, of course, close behind.
     The sun is falling, and the cold swoops in. Noemi and Nico put up their hoodies. Eli climbs to the highest point. He says, “Now I see why they came here. From here, you can watch anybody coming.  You can see everywhere.”
     So, he was listening.
     I ask if they can hear the ghosts in the wind. They want to climb all the rocks. They realize the rocks go way back into the farthest mountains. “He was smart, right,” I say to them. They agree. I mean, nobody knows the entire story, right? And even among those who think they know the story, there are a lot of gray areas. Can anyone really know another’s story, especially a character steeped in history, fiction, and myth?

Daniel Cano is an award winning writer. His latest novel of 1920's Los Angeles, "Death and the American Dream" (Bilingual Press) is available on Amazon or directly from the publisher. His first two novels "Pepe Rios" and "Shifting Loyalties" (Arte Publico Press) are also available on Amazon.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Two Cinco Puntos Press Titles in New Editions

Olor a perfume de viejita

By Claudia Guadalupe Martinez
Translated by Luis Humberto Crosthwaite
Edited by Sylvia Zeleny

The classic Latinx growing up story, The Smell of Old Lady Perfume, now by popular demand in SPANISH!

Claudia Martinez’ novel for middle-grade readers is a bittersweet story about family, death and the resilient emotional strength of the human heart. Chela Gonzalez, the book’s narrator, is a nerd and a soccer player who can barely contain her excitement about starting the sixth grade. To Chela, her family is like a solar system, with her father the sun, and her mother, brothers and sister like planets rotating all around him. It’s the only world she fits in. But that universe is threatened when her strong father has a stroke. Chela’s grandmother moves in to help the family. The smell of her old lady perfume invades the house. That smell is worse than Sundays. Sundays were sad, but death is a whole other thing. In her grief and worry, Chela begins to discover herself and find her own strength.

Watch Out for Clever Women  
¡Cuidado con las mujeres astutas!

By legendary storyteller Joe Hayes
Illustrations by Vickie Trego Hill

A Bilingual Classic—Texas Bluebonnet Master List and Winner of the Southwest Book Award—with FIVE NEW STORIES. The book includes Joe’s signature story The Day It Snowed Tortillas.

According to an old saying, Una mujer piensa más en un solo minuto que un hombre en un mes entero—A woman thinks more in a minute than a man does in a whole month. For me, the saying refers to the rich inner life many women developed in Western cultures when so much of the external, active life was denied them. This collection of eleven Hispanic stories celebrates the strength of women that comes from this thinking.

My hope is that readers will find these stories spicy enough that they’ll begin to tell them themselves. And if they do, I invite them to add something from their own imaginations to make the stories even richer. —Joe Hayes