September 15th-October 15th is Hispanic Heritage Month! The Hispanic experience is vast, with different cultures, languages, and races all falling under the Hispanic umbrella—therefore, no one book can define what the experience is like for any one person. With the political climate and rhetoric often disparaging Hispanic people and pushing forward policies that deny Hispanic people rights, it can be comforting to read books that extol the Hispanic experience. To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we would like to share with you some of our favorite 2019 books about the Hispanic experience. This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the Hispanic books that have come out this year, but it is a start for those who wish to read more books where Hispanic culture and people are the focus.
Happy reading everyone!
The Other Side: Stories of Central American Teen Refugees Who Dream of Crossing the Border
Juan Pablo Villalobos
Translated by Rosalind Harvey
Farrar Straus Giroux, September 10, 2019
This is a non-fiction novel that depicts the experiences of ten Central American teens who crossed the border. To protect their identities, the names of the teens have been changed. Each experience is written in a narrative format that highlights the struggles that the teens had to endure in their home countries, traveling across the border, and in immigration detention centers. Reading about the challenges that these teens faced is heartbreaking. The back matter provides further details about what happened to each teen after crossing the border, as well as a list of resources and readings for those who want to learn more about the migrant crisis.
The Moon Within
Arthur A. Levine, February 26, 2019
Celi is an eleven-year-old Afro-Latina living in Oakland who is dreading the day that she gets her first period. Her mother wants her to have a traditional ‘moon ceremony’ when Celi finally starts to menstruate to celebrate her transition from childhood into womanhood. If that wasn’t enough, the boy she has a crush on, Ivan, has been cruel to her best friend Mar who recently came out as genderfluid. Celi is forced to navigate the emotional waters of puberty, what it means to be a good friend, and who she wants to be. The back matter contains an author’s note discussing the cultural traditions of Mesoamerican peoples and a poem entitled “A Flower Song for Maidens Coming of Age” written in 1440. It is the only Mesoamerican precolonial document written about a moon ceremony. To accompany the poem, there is a moon calendar for those who are interested in tracking their menstrual cycles with the moon.
Juan & Lucas: Big Problemas
Candlewick, May 14, 2019
Juana lives in Bogota, Colombia with her Mami and her dog (and best friend) Lucas. Juana grows worried as she begins to notice that her Mami is changing. She’s wearing makeup, perfume, changing her hair, and going out more often. Then one day, Juana meets Mami’s new friend Luis. Is Luis going to take Mami away from Juana? The illustrations are simple and vibrant, showing the things that are the most important to Juana. The book contains some Spanish words throughout the text, making it feel more like Juana herself is speaking.
A New Home
Tania de Regil
Candlewick, April 9, 2019
Ages Pre K-6
A little boy and a little girl are moving to a new city. The little boy is moving to Mexico City while the little girl is moving to New York. Each of them reflects on the things that they will miss about their city, each hoping that they will enjoy their new homes. The illustrations are phenomenal. The colors and details showcase the differences and similarities between the two cities. The last two pages of the book describe some of the locations within the book, explaining their significance to their respective cities.
¡Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market
Raul the Third
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April 2, 2019
Little Lobo and Bernabe have to deliver supplies to the people at the market. At the market, Little Lobo and Bernabe run into many different people, each new person more interesting than the last. The illustrations are reminiscent of a comic, with the color palette evocative of the desert. Spanish is used throughout the text, with a glossary at the end of the book that translates Spanish words into English. Mexican culture is prevalent throughout the book, not just in the foreground but in the background as well.