In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15–October 15), here at the Butler Center, we’d like to highlight several publications from 2020 that we think are compelling, poignant, or dazzling stories about different Hispanic experiences! Our list is by no means all that has been published this year, nor could it ever encapsulate the many different Hispanic experiences. Instead, it is a sampling of several stories–from reimagined folk tales to navigating athletic ambitions to budding youth activists.
Federico and the Wolf
Written by Rebecca J. Gomez and illustrated by Elisa Chavarri
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Clarion Books
This joyful Mexican-American retelling of Little Red Riding Hood features vibrant artwork and a playful rhyming scheme. This tale features Federico, outfitted with a red hoodie and bicycle basket full of goodies, on his way to his Abuelo’s when he comes across el lobo. As Federico outwits the wolf, illustrator Elissa Chavarri’s artwork leaps off the page, with action and detail-work alike. Author Rebecca J. Gomez features food heavily in the story, with Spanish throughout. Gomez ends the picture book with a recipe for pico de gallo and a glossary of Spanish words.
Queen of Tejano Music: Selena
Written by Silvia López and illustrated by Paola Escobar
Published by little bee books
In this picture book biography, Silvia López honors the late singer Selena in a descriptive account of the singer’s childhood and immersion in the music world. Starting at age nine, Selena Quintanilla began singing in her family’s band. The Tejano music world was dominated by men–not women or girls. Through hard work and talent, Selena became a superstar on the Tejano scene and later crossed over into mainstream American music. Illustrator Paola Escobar charts Selena’s rise with expressive artwork. While Selena’s career was tragically cut short, López focuses on her life. End matter explores Tejano music further, as well as provides a timeline for Selena’s life.
Stella Díaz Never Gives Up
Written by Angela Dominguez
Published by Macmillan/Roaring Brook
The second in the Stella Díaz series, author and illustrator Angela Dominguez’s chapter book gets deeper into Stella’s development as a young environmental activist. Set during the summer, Stella is excited about her family trip to Mexico, where she’ll see the ocean, and eager to begin camp at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. But soon Stella learns how the ocean is threatened by pollution–and she wants to do something about it! As Stella leans into her community and inspires friends and family alike to care about the ocean, readers will latch onto Stella’s enthusiasm. Dominguez’s note at the end offers more resources for helping with ocean conservation, as well as explains her choice to italicize the Spanish phrases throughout the book.
Written by Claribel Ortega
Published by Scholastic Press
In this middle-grade fantasy, Dominican-American Lucely Luna and her family know ghosts–and they should! Lucely’s ancestors are part of their lives, appearing to them as fireflies or cucuyos. In the days leading up to Halloween, one of Lucely’s cucuyos fades. Worried and desperate, Lucely and her best friend Syd cast a spell to awaken the spirit–however, instead, they awaken evil spirits. As the evil spirits set on the city of St Augustine, Florida. To fight back and protect the city against the evil spirits, Lucely and Syd turn to Syd’s grandmother Babette. This action-packed read is filled with Dominican culture. The supernatural spookiness is juxtaposed with family love and warmth, making for a ghost story with heart.
Written by Yamile Saied Méndez
Published by Workman Publishing/Algonquin Young Readers
Seventeen-year-old Camila Hassan has a secret. To her parents, she is a respectful daughter living under her family’s rules and her father’s hard temper. What her parents do not know is that Camila is also “la Furia,” a talented fútbol player who has just won their local league championship. Instead of playing in Rosario, Argentina, Camila and her team have qualified for a South American tournament. Before this, Camila has not let herself dream–but now she is thinking about what the future could hold, including a sports scholarship to a North American university. But for that dream to become a reality, she needs her parents’ permission to play. And now, her old love Diego–now a famous international futboler–has moved back home. This coming of age story has Camila balancing her own desires as an athlete with her feelings of love, all against the backdrop of an abusive family.