Thursday, September 15, 2005

Two Books With a Strong Message

Title: Antonio’s Card/La Tarjeta de Antonio
Author: Rigoberto González; Illustrator: Cecilia Concepción Alvarez
Publisher: Children’s Book Press
ISBN: 0-89239-204-5
Grades: Recommended for Grades 1-3 (My recommendation is EVERYONE)

Antonio loves words and recognizes their power. He loves learning new words and cherishes his routine and time spent with his mother’s partner Leslie. He plays spelling games with his mother and enjoys sitting under a big tree with Leslie after school or spending time in her studio. One day when Leslie comes to pick him up, other children make fun of her because she is tall and dressed in paint-splattered overalls. Antonio is a little embarrassed and is worried about what the other children will think if they see him with her.

When it is near Mother’s Day, Antonio makes a beautiful card for both his mothers but is worried about the other children seeing it and making fun of him. He learns through his mother, Leslie and on his own that there is no shame in his family only love, devotion and caring. Antonio loves his mothers and learns that words can also hurt.

This is such a lovely and touching bilingual story told gently by award-winning Rigoberto González and lavishly illustrated by Cecilia Concepción Alvarez. It is a timely and sensitive piece about everyday choices, today’s “different” family units and intolerance. It teaches, as does Daniel Olivas’ Benjamin and the Word, about the power of words to hurt, about having pride in who you are and that the people you love are important no matter what other people think. It is a book about a difficult choice, about holding your head up with pride, about not being ashamed just because someone is different. It teaches tolerance and love with a light and deft touch.

The illustrations are warm and convey much emotion, so much love. In particular, I loved the illustration of Leslie’s studio and her paintings. The faces and eyes have so much character and life that they sing.

About Children’s Book Press:
Children's Book Press (CBP) is a nonprofit publisher of multicultural and bilingual children's picture books.

Since I mentioned Benjamin and the Word, I thought I'd post the review I did a couple of months ago on that most excellent libro.

Title: Benjamin And The Word/ Benjamin Y La Palabra
Author: Daniel A. Olivas, Don Dyen (Illustrator)
Publisher: Arte Publico Press; Bilingual edition (April 30, 2005)
ISBN: 1558854134
Price: $14.95

Benjamin and the Word is a beautiful grade 1-3 picture book which delivers a powerful message about the issues of bigotry, race and difference.

Benjamin is on the playground playing when suddenly he hears “the word”. The book doesn’t tell you which word it was that hurt him so and bothered him so much and this absence just makes it that much more powerful. We don’t need to know the word to know that words hurt and that children can be cruel to each other.

In the story Benjamin is hurt and it shows. The word is eating at him and his father sees that something is bothering his child. He waits for Benjamin to tell him what transpired and once hearing the word, he skillfully teaches his son his own worth.

Mr. Olivas, who scared us with his Devil Talk, now takes us on a journey through childhood and the playground. He skillfully shows us how we learn racism and bigotry and how it can be unlearned; how children can be educated to be accepting and aware of the impact of their words.

Don Dyen, the illustrator has masterfully captured the essence of this simple, yet powerful punch of a story with soft watercolors that bring the quality of a dream to this rich and colorful book.

I encourage all parents to buy this book for your children and to be honest, maybe we all need to read it. It brought home some simple truths to me and made me reconsider some things I would have said without thought. Be careful of your words.

- Gina Marysol Ruiz


daniel olivas said...

gracias. that's so kind of you.

Gina MarySol Ruiz said...

De nada. It's a wonderful book!