Return to Sender is the story of two friends, Mari and Tyler, and their families who seem to have nothing in common. Mari's family has come to AmericaReturn to Sender is the story of two friends, Mari and Tyler, and their families who seem to have nothing in common. Mari's family has come to American to earn a living and Tyler's family is depending on Mari's family to keep their beloved farm up and running. Although I did enjoy reading this book, I thought Mari's character seemed too sophisticated for a sixth grade girl, especially in her writing style to her mother. Like other reviews I have read, I loved the teacher Mr. B.
Some parts of the novel felt too forced to me, such as "Tyler hates to admit it, but after September 11, he's a little scared of strangers from other countries who might be plotting to destroy the United States of America." (p 42) Speaking of Tyler, I think his portion of the story would've came across better if told from a first person point of view.
I would use this book for sixth grade and up. I think middle grade students would appreciate the story line, but high school students could delve further into the themes of Immigration, migrant work, language, and identity....more
Diego is the story of the life of Diego Rivera. Like 'Cesar: Si, Se Puede!', it is told through poetry; however, Diego goes much more in depth than 'CDiego is the story of the life of Diego Rivera. Like 'Cesar: Si, Se Puede!', it is told through poetry; however, Diego goes much more in depth than 'Cesar: Si, Se Puede!.' I thought the illustrations in both books were kind of monotonous and looked too computer-generated, like clip-art. I did like that in Diego, Bernier used some of his original work. Diego goes very in-depth into the subject's political beliefs and politics of the time, so I think it would be suitable for high school students. Bernier does a beautiful job contrasting Diego's love for his country to his disgust with the curropt government. It's very evident that the truth of Mexican history is important to him and the author does an excellent job conveying this. His love life was an interesting addition, as I had no idea Diego had so many marriages/loves. The epilogue, glossary, and biography at the back are good additions that add closure to the book....more
He Forgot to Say Goodbye is a story of Jake and Ram, two teenagers with seemingly different lives who have one thing in common- their fathers left theHe Forgot to Say Goodbye is a story of Jake and Ram, two teenagers with seemingly different lives who have one thing in common- their fathers left them. The story is told through monologues that,at times, get repetitive when Saenz would recall describe the same scene twice through each characters' point of view. I thought the characters were too contrived, especially Jake. The language the characters used was forced- "effen", "cool cat", "dig it", and worst of all "destroy." Unfortunately, the only phrase that was repeated that sounded natural and not forced to me was "pendejo" by Ram's brother Tito. I had some difficulty distinguishing between the characters' voices and felt that the author overused these phrases to distinguish between characters. The characters were not real to me, and lacked individual personality. One thing I noticed about the Spanish language at the beginning of the text was that very generic Spanish words were used : Vato, ese, pendejo, loco. I was also very confused by Alejandra and Ram's relationship. Throughout the first half of the book, he despised her and mocked her, but in the middle, it just stopped and they became "best friends." Saenz used Tito's hospitalization to force the friendship between Ram and Alejandra, and I thought it seemed artificial. I wouldn't add this book to a classroom library, but it might be a good book for a teen who has an absent parent and is confused. The book does offer the unlikely emergence of American and Spanish American friendships and relationships among rich and poor....more
This book of poetry tells about the life of Cesar Chavez, a migrant farmworker who peacefully fought for workers' rights. The poetry puts a nice spinThis book of poetry tells about the life of Cesar Chavez, a migrant farmworker who peacefully fought for workers' rights. The poetry puts a nice spin on a traditional biography, and tells about Cesar's family in a simple,relatable way rather than following the monotony of a typical biography. Another nice thing about the text is that it is not over-informative; There is the perfect amount of information to absorb for younger readers. I enjoyed the use of direct quotes from Cesar and the occasional use of Spanish words and phrases, but I didn't understand why some phrases were re-written in English despite the glossary in the back of the book. The glossary was a wonderful tool for English readers, but I wish the author made note of this at the beginning of the book. ...more
I really enjoyed reading The Poet Slave of Cuba. It is an excellent multicultural young adult biography of Juan Francisco Manzano. Margarita Engle wriI really enjoyed reading The Poet Slave of Cuba. It is an excellent multicultural young adult biography of Juan Francisco Manzano. Margarita Engle writes beautiful poetry through the eyes of Juan Francisco Manzano, and the story left me extremely intrigued about Manzano's life after his escape. I found this book culturally relative because it incorporated Latino/a culture and language without overtly Americanizing it or re-writing Spanish phrases in English. I do not know much about the history of slavery in Cuba, but the poetry seemed culturally accurate. It portrayed a variety of Latino/a characters. I think the story would be wonderful for classroom use. The text is written in short poems, so it would not be overwhelming to students. The tragic story could be used when discussing slavery, discrimination, Latino/a history, and even cencorship (See the Biographical Note at the end of the text.) One of the things I loved about this book was the way Engle distinguishes between darker and lighter skin tones. The slaveholders lighten their skin with an eggshell and rice mixture, but can not do so on Holy Week when they have to be "humble." Overall, I would definitely recommend this book and will add it to my classroom library....more