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Cool Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Growing Up Hispanic in the United States

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  261 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
Growing up Latino in America means speaking two languages, living two lives, learning the rules of two cultures. Cool Salsa celebrates the tones, rhythms, sounds, and experiences of that double life. Here are poems about families and parties, insults and sad memories, hot dogs and mangos, the sweet syllables of Spanish and the snag-toothed traps of English. Here is the glo ...more
Hardcover, Edge Books, 124 pages
Published July 15th 1994 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
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Hayley Schlinsog
I don't feel like I can fairly review this book simply because I don't speak any Spanish. Because of this, my understanding of several of the poems was compromised. The book is set up to have the same poem displayed twice on consecutive pages: once in English and once in Spanish. While I obviously understood the English portions, there was still Spanish lingo and vocabulary mixed into the English translations of the poems. I had to look some words up, but some wouldn't translate directly. I did ...more
Jessica Scranton
Cool Salsa Bilingual Poems on Growing up Latino in the United States by Lori M. Carlson was a good book. The book contained poems in both English and Spanish, which I found quite interesting. It is an assortment of poems about a young Hispanic man who grew up in the United States and the struggles he faced as minority. Each poem talked specifically about different events in his life like learning English, fights with street gangs and different events throughout his life. Each poem had a theme an ...more
Shana Martin
Feb 13, 2012 Shana Martin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eced221
Cool Salsa Bilingual Poems on Growing up Latino in the United States by Lori M. Carlson is a collection of poems that tells a story about how a young Hispanic faces challenges in the United States and the memories that stuck with him. Each poem is labeled with a title above that relates to what the author is speaking of such as the poem labeled learning English which explains him trying to learn English and the challenges of if he will stay the same person. Furthermore, the author supplied the r ...more
Suzanne Moore
The poems in this book are grouped into several themes. These are my thoughts about a few favorites.

In “School Days,” I was touched by the short poem Learning English. As a former Language Arts teacher in Texas, I taught a number of ESL students. I remember the struggles that come with learning a new language. In this poem Lori M. Carlson examines the feelings she has speaking her native tongue, Spanish, and wonders if speaking English will change the way she feels.

In “Home and Homeland,” most o
Gladys Sosa
Jun 25, 2014 Gladys Sosa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about a latin boy who grew up in America and all the challenges that he had to face. This book contains different poems, each of them tells us the different events that happened in this boy's life. How he has two live two cultures, two language and two different lives. It was very interesting how descriptive and visual are this poems. This poems make students to be more sensitives and respect their classmate because we never know why is happening in other people's life.
Jul 05, 2009 Lindsey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This collection is a treasure among poetry, not only for its rich collection of voices and poignant social commentary on being Latin in America, but for its brutal honesty and courageous content that reveals both the beautiful and horrendous aspects of American culture as well as the Latin culture that these poets have left behind. All of the voices teach educational lessons to the readers, and bring an edge about the realities of living in America that can only be told accurately through the mo ...more
Jennifer Haight
Cool Salsa is a collection of poetry that the editor compiled to celebrate the influence of Spanish language and Ibero-Latin American heritage in hopes to “…contribute to an even greater appreciation and understanding of Latinos in cities…” She stays consistent to this theme with strong poetry selections that are sectioned into categories such as School Days, Hard Times and A Promising Future. The poets come from all nations including Cuba, Argentina, Mexico and Guatemala. The poems vary greatly ...more
Feb 20, 2012 Viri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This little book contains fun poetry that is by different writers through out the contry, but they all are centered about the latino culture and how immigrants are seeing the old and new world. Their present and past are who they are and they are just sharing their ideas in this booklet.
Carlson wroked with Hijuelos on this collection and they each introduce themselves at the begining of the book. There is a table of contents that can let you search for the poem that you are trying to find. What
Katie Sayles
Mar 22, 2015 Katie Sayles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book of poetry that introduces culture to whoever is reading it! This book speaks of the culture that bilingual latinos experience every day. I would think this is geared towards older students in 4th or 5th grade because of the context that it is in. I think for students reading about culture and poetry, this is a great example to help them become aware.
Leigh Isley
Jul 14, 2012 Leigh Isley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok so poetry isn't my thing but this poetry book surprised me. I actually enjoyed reading it, especially since poetry readings are way out of my comfort zone. This book is basically poetry written by a man explaining how difficult and also enjoyable it was growing up Latino American. He uses cool tones and rhythms to bring out his poetry. There are poems about his family, parties, insults, and sad memories. He writes his life history through poems. He presents the poems both in their original la ...more
Dec 02, 2014 Katlyn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Eh, I actually didn't feel any need to finish this one. I remember enjoying some of the poems from Red Hot Salsa and thought it was a fun way to practice my Spanish. But honestly I'm having trouble staying interested enough to read each poem twice. There's just not much, in style or content, here.
Betty F
Finished this a couple days ago. I enjoyed the poems. I would have liked more of a variety in the topics discussed. I did think that the anger and how bold the poems were was so on point.
Apr 27, 2016 Donna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
A good collection of poems in both Spanish and English, or a mix of the two. Most are geared more toward youth, as fits the title. I have used some examples in writing groups.
Mar 20, 2016 Trever rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was excellent, since I teach at a predominantly Hispanic school it gives some depth on how students feel or "can" feel in my classroom.

Loved the new cover it is much better.
Sep 24, 2015 Lindsay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great poems and a great reminder that I need to sign up for Spanish language classes as soon as I'm done with this degree. Superb to read aloud!
Nov 13, 2010 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book. I don't speak or read spanish, but my husband does. He often read over my shoulder. The poems spoke of the issues that Hispanics face in America. There was one particular poem that I loved. It was about how the Hispanic people stayed in their side of the town. One day, these kids decided to be rebels and go to the other side of town. They got beat up and made each other promise to not tell anyone about what had happened. The poems also talk about two cultures mixing and how it ...more
Feb 11, 2012 Adam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eced-221
Cool Salsa is a good book that gives you the English and Spanish version of poem. This not only reaches out to more than one type of reader, but also allows the students to become familiar with other languages at a younger age. This books explaines every day life and challenges that a Hispanic faces in America. While reading the poem you feel the different emotions that the author pured into their writing. Some of these feelings were love, hate, anger, and fear. This was an interesting book that ...more
I loved this book! It wasn't only English poems that were translated from Spanish poems but it was a bilingual book including both the english and spanish versions. This book describes everyday life of a Hispanic in America. Many feelings of fear, anger, love and drama are presented through these poems written by several authors. Although i may not be fully hispanic i can definitely relate to some of these these and it makes me laugh at how accurate they are with the terms and phrases that are u ...more
Jun 14, 2008 Jessica added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ppl who like poetry
this book is full of poems in english and in spanish. the poems are written by many different people and express who they are and what they feel about their latin american culture and background. i really like the poem "A Puerto Rican Girl's Sentimental Education" by Johanna Vega. it shows the difficulty of trying to fit in a school where you cant really understand what they are telling you and they cant care less of who you are as a person in a foreign land. most of the poems are nice.
I found Cool Salsa to be a great book to highlight the experience of growing up Latino in America. The selection of poems about the experiences of authors from Cuba, Mexico, California and New York (among others)helps shed light onto the rich diversity, as well as the similarities, in the Hispanic culture. Because the poems are both in their original language and in translation, the book maintains the tones, rhythms and sounds of the culture in an authentic, unadulterated way.
Sep 25, 2007 Cynthia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
I'm enjoying this book of poetry immensely. Earlier this summer I aslo read Red Hot Salsa which was also edited by Lori Carlson.

My favorite poems are... Good Hot Dogs by Sandra Cisneros. Niggerlips by Martin Espada is very powerful. The Calling by Luis Rodriguez is a very beautiful piece as well. Love Poem For My People by Pedro Pietri has a line I love If you want to feel very rich look at your hands that is where the definition of magic is located...
Doug Cannon
Feb 14, 2008 Doug Cannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book of poetry. The author/editor has picked out some great poems that try to describe the life of South American immigrants into the USA. She does a beautiful job of helping describe their lives, goals and ambitions and also how they often meet pain, frustrations and uncertainty.

My favorite poems are "Learning English" and "Translating Grandfather's House"
Aug 02, 2011 Jeane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-teen
Although I'm sure this is a good book, since I'm not big on poetry in the first place, and since I could not relate to any but two maybe three poems in this book, I really didn't enjoy it. I think that it's good that this was a nice bilingual poem book, and that every poem is written in both English and Spanish, but some of them I thought were a little outdated.
Sep 02, 2008 Crystal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, poetry
Cool Salsa expresses many aspects of the Latino culture including family ties, celebrations, sorrows, and diversity. The poems share an assortment of vibrant flavors. Some poems are in English, some in Spanish and some have a mixture of both, but translations are provided for most in this spectacular glimpse of Latino life.
Aug 03, 2015 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really found this book of poems to be very compelling. I didn't realize at first that each poem is written by a different poet. I feel that it gives a fairly accurate portrayal of how life is for Latino youth in America and that it promotes understanding of those that are different. I highly recommend.
Dec 11, 2008 Cynthia rated it really liked it
The poems are full of the sounds, colors, tastes and emotions of Latino life. Reading the poems in both English and Spanish give a new dimension to the experience. It is a wonderful collection that the author followed some ten years later with Hot Salsa.
Mar 21, 2009 Ramona rated it really liked it
I continually return to this little book of poems described as "the sights, sounds, and smells of Latino culture in America" (back cover). There are familiar names here: Sandra Cisneros, Luis J. Rodriguez, Gary Soto, Martin Espada.
Mar 21, 2011 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Me encantaban muchísimas las poemas "The Changeling", "The Monster", "Bato Loco", "La Novia", "'Race' Politics" y "Smokey". Me gusta esas más que las otras poemas.

The things in quotes are the poems I like the most :)
Jun 13, 2014 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think my favorite element of this collection is the juxtaposition of the same poem in English and Spanish. Reading the two together makes each poem even more poignant and interesting. I loved this collection!
Nov 19, 2010 Pedro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy reading about my culture it brings good memories. Lori M. Carlson wrote terrific poems of traditional Hispanics heritage in this book.
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Lori Marie Carlson was born in Jamestown, New York. She went to college at Indiana University, earning a MA in Hispanic Literature. She has taught at several universities.

Carlson has written several books for children and young adults, including Cool Salsa and Sol a Sol. The Sunday Tertulia is her first novel for adults.
More about Lori Marie Carlson...

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