Armchair BEA: Dear Marilyn Sachs

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I'm writing to thank you for The Truth About Mary Rose (Doubleday, 1973). That's my childhood copy, the 1977 Dell Yearling edition, illustrated by Louis Glanzman. It was one of the few books (maybe even the only one) I read as a child that had a Hispanic or Latina main character--like me, or close enough (I'm Cuban-American). I loved that Mary Rose's dad, an artist, made her rice pudding when he was worried about her being sick, and that she was surrounded by her extended family in New York City, even if they were mostly on her American mother's side. Speaking of Mary Rose's mother (Veronica Ganz, but I hadn't read that book), I also loved that she was a dentist and kept her maiden name at work. But Mary Rose's grandmother, on the other hand, just made me mad (to be fair, she made Mary Rose's mother mad, too). How could she say such mean things about Mary Rose's dad? And why would everyone let her get away with it? Even, especially, Mary Rose herself.

Rereading The Truth About Mary Rose as an adult, which I did last night, I'm more interested in the representation of the Ramirez (Ganz) and Petronski families than I am in the mystery of the first Mary Rose--after all, I already know how it ends. And I want to congratulate Luis Ramirez on his one-man show at MoMA. Very impressive! It almost makes up for having such an awful mother-in-law.

2012 National Hispanic Heritage Month Roundup

Welcome to the second annual roundup of children's and young adult book reviews, interviews, and more celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month. This year's roundup focuses on lists and awards, in hopes of raising awareness of great books by Latin American authors and illustrators--and making it easier for interested readers to find them.

Lee and Low Books is celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month by highlighting some of their many wonderful titles written and illustrated by Latino/a authors and illustrators, including favorite picture books by Pat Mora and Carmen Lomas Garza.

Tu Books, an imprint of Lee and Low, publishes science fiction, fantasy, and mystery books for kids that feature diverse characters and settings. I'm especially excited about Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall, which is described as "a magical Mexican American retelling of The Odyssey." You can read the first three chapters here.

This is also a good time of year to start thinking about the Pura Belpre Award, which is presented by ALSC and REFORMA and "recognizes excellence in the areas of literary merit and outstanding illustration in books for children and young adults by authors and illustrators who identify themselves as Latino." The Heartland chapter of REFORMA runs a mock Pura Belpre every year; they haven't put up the list of titles under consideration for the 2013 awards yet, but past years' mock Belpre lists are a great source of titles.

Another useful list comes from the UNM Institute of Latin American and Iberian Studies: its monthly, teacher-oriented book group Vamos a Leer reads and discusses children's literature related to Latin America, with an emphasis on the K-12 classroom. Check out their blog, Vamos a Leer: Teaching Latin America and Literacy, where you'll also find (among other great resources) the Latin American YA Bookshelf.

The 2012 Americas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature, for work that "authentically and engagingly portray[s] Latin America, the Caribbean or Latinos in the United States," is being presented to Monica Brown and Julie Paschkis for Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People (Henry Holt and Company, 2011) and to Margarita Engle for Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck (also Henry Holt, 2001), this Friday, October 5, at the Library of Congress. Congratulations to Monica (interviewed today by Latina author Meg Medina) and Margarita!

And thank you for reading. If you'd like to contribute to the roundup, please leave a comment with your links or recommendations. ¡Gracias a todos!