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They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid's Poems
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They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid's Poems

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,071 ratings  ·  214 reviews
Twelve-year-old Güero is Mexican American, at home with Spanish or English and on both sides of the river. He’s starting 7th grade with a woke English teacher who knows how to make poetry cool.

In Spanish, “Güero” is a nickname for guys with pale skin, Latino or Anglo. But make no mistake: our red-headed, freckled hero is puro mexicano, like Canelo Álvarez, the Mexican box
Hardcover, 120 pages
Published October 22nd 2018 by Cinco Puntos Press (first published 2018)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  1,071 ratings  ·  214 reviews

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Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think what I like most about They Call Me Güero is that it’s not a book about a young boy who’s too good or too bad, who’s trying to save the world or even find his place in it. He’s just a boy being a boy doing stupid stuff boys do, hanging with his friends, enjoying school and spending time with his family. Written actually as a collection of poems, the book provides glimpses into Güero’s life as he enters the 7th grade. If you looking for poverty, abuse, gangs and crime then, you’ll need to ...more
Although I certainly have found the featured blank verse offerings of David Bowles' 1919 Pura Belpré Honour They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid's Poems both enlightening and educational (often also quite massively heartbreaking and thought-provoking, and this is especially the case for that one painful poem dealing with refugees from South America and indeed, how precarious not only their lives prior to trying to escape to the USA generally are, but that the journey to the latter is or at least can ...more
I loved this book. I saw myself and my husband... my very own Güero... in this book. I saw my familia and our traditions and our costumbres (customs) and even the dichos (traditional sayings) my Mom is so fond of imparting on us. I saw fragments of my hometown in México and the border city in Texas that embraced us when we first moved to the United States. I saw a protagonist straddling and balancing two cultures and I understood. I saw memories reflected back to me... and boy, did this make my ...more
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
I bought this for my 12 year old, but ended up reading it first. Güero's story is timely and engaging. His words are in turns funny, sweet, clever, and moving. I loved the palpable joy in Güero's family, his unabashed nerdiness, his three friends Bobby, his abiding awareness of his roots, and his fledgling forays into young adulthood. Güero's thoughts are adroitly rendered in verse by Bowles, and the whole story hangs together cohesively, despite the wide ranging topics and forms of the poems. I ...more
Adriana Martinez Figueroa
Güero lives in a town near the border between Mexico and the U.S. He’s constantly absorbing the way the border affects him and those around him. Describing himself as a border kid, Güero observes his family life, his friends, and has long accepted the way his identity is shaped by a culture divided by a border.
Though the book ( They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid's Poems ) is written in verse, David Bowles manages to pack narrative and emotion to each of the entries, all from Güero’s point of vi
mindful.librarian ☀️
This 2019 Pura Belpre Award winner is one I meant to read right when I got it in my school library last spring and than, as often happens, it got shelved and slipped my mind. I’m so happy I got to it now though! It’s a slim almost-novel in verse written in a combination of English and Spanish about being a border kid ~ a middle school boy doing everyday middle school boy stuff and also grappling with race and identity and the injustices of Mexican-American border policies. I really sank into it ...more
Ruben Degollado
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved reading this book! We cheer with Güero as he overcomes bullies and celebrates family traditions. Bowles weaves this tale of growing up in our beautiful RGV, expertly using different poetry forms. He gives such incredible detail about what it’s like growing up here. If I were a character in this book, I know I’d be traviesos with Güero and Los Bobbys. Well done!
Aug 27, 2019 rated it liked it
I think this must be aimed at children who don't like to or have trouble reading, or have limited time. Which makes sense. The audience who is likely to benefit the most would be children of immigrants, ESL students, and children from underserved communities. Brief poems can speak to a reader's heart even when they can't reveal a lot of history or cultural studies.

But I'm not the target audience, and I admit that I wasn't moved. On the plus side, I liked that mostly our boy was just another Ame
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In David Bowles’ feisty verse novel, They Call Me Guero, he explores the life of
12-year-old Mexican-American narrator that everyone calls Güero, in his home of the borderlands. Bowles wonderfully shows how normal life is living near the border, a far cry from a “crisis area” that some of the country believes it to be. He does this through relatable and entertaining characters in the various blend of poetic forms. The book is humorous and witty with bits of slang, and a diverse mix of characters
Jenny G
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mc-literature, ya-lit
This book received the Pura Belpré Award in 2019. It is a very unique book in that the format is solely poems. The story follows the life of a 7th grade boy who grew up on the border. He talks of every day experiences such as going shopping with his mom, to starting to like a girl, to adventures with his friends. The language the author uses really allows you to make a connection with the character. With Spanish phrases sprinkled throughout, it provides an authentic view into the boy's life livi ...more
Mary Thomas
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great collection of poetry that paints a portrait of life on the border (literally and metaphorically). I really loved the richness of the characters and places. I would definitely teach with this one if I were still in the classroom! Recommend for 4th grade & up. ...more
Jul 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Carrying on Gary Soto's tradition.
Leslie Clingan
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a gringa living on the on the El Paso, Texas-Juarez, Mexico border, I speak a fair amount of Spanglish or Tex-Mex. But when I read the title of this to myself (thank goodness, not aloud), I was pronouncing güero as guerro - the word for war in Spanish. Rolling those double Rs the best I could. I was kind of put out by my (mis-) translation of the title, thinking the title was "They Call Me War". And the cover art showed a pre-teen boy stomping? up a hill or mountain in the desert. The subtitl ...more
Ellen Stumbo
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book of poems. Perhaps my favorite is the poem of the same name as the book “The Call Me Güero.” That poem moved me to tears as I relate to being a white presenting Mexican. This book was nostalgia for a culture I miss with my bones.
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a book that hit kind of close to home. I am mixed race, not fully Mexican, not fully white, but like Güero, I am very pale and white-passing. There are several moments in here that remind me of my own family, getting together, making food, and so on, but most especially when Güero talks to his uncle Joe:

"Es más, when I was in elementary
they didn't let me call myself José!
It was Joseph this and Joseph that.
So I became Joe. And forget using Spanish.
They caught you saying a single word, y
Apr 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, mc-literature
Inspired by his English teacher, a twelve-year-old Mexican-American boy, nickname Guero by his friends and family, writes a variety of poems reflecting on his life experiences growing up in the United States near the boarder of Mexico. These poems reflect on the anger him and his sister feel when their family gets stopped at checkpoints, the experiences of new friends, and considering his father a hero.

One of the most important features of this book is the use of Spanish words mixed into the mai
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!

This was SUCH a beautiful collection; there was joy, heartbreak, comfort, harsh realities, and laugh-out-loud silliness, but most of all, there was TRUTH. Bowles captures every nuance of life on this border - a place I love and where I've lived and worked and socialized and defended passionately for almost 45 years. While I am not Mexican-American myself (I am of Spanish/Italian/French descent), I have deeply absorbed the cultural texture of this area: i
Choose a character you'd like (or not like) to have as a
friend. Tell why?

I would like to be Güero’s friend because he seems like a respectful, responsible guy. He started reading at a young age and many people call him a “nerd” because of how smart he is. I feel like I missed out on having a “book smart” friend. If I could be his friend I would simply because he is a very family orientated fictional character. He visits his dad every Saturday and is always spending time with his whole family. H
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid's Poems by David Bowles 111 pages. POETRY Cinco Puntos Press, 2018 $13 Content: G



12-year-old Güero is a light skinned Mexican American who lives on the border, literally and figuratively. He is as comfortable speaking Spanish as he is speaking English, and he has family on both sides of the river. This year he is starting 7th grade with some great friends, a wonderful teacher who gets his poetry, and maybe a girlfriend.

I e
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a solid middle grade novel-in-verse but it seemed more like a series of snapshots that resulted in world-building than a novel. Of course, this could be the intended function and it does well at that. I enjoyed the slices of life that the book captures and loved the seamless integration of Spanish words. Some of my favorite words I learned were fregona “tough girl” from the poem introducing Joanna and also papacho “loving cuddle” hugs from his abuelos.

Update: I was still thinking about t
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
2019 Reading Challenge this my read it in a day book.

I loved that I could see my family and my cousins Ivan and Stacy reflected in it. The tamalada, cascarones and sense of home, family and friendships resonates. Seeing the words huerco and chamaco was a first for me. My favorite poem was Refuge on the Ranch reminds me of home and Uncle Joe’s History Lesson resonates a truth about my family’s lived experiences.

Highly recommend!! David Bowles ¡Bravo!
Mar 01, 2019 added it
Reading this, I find myself wishing I could have had a comparable book about a Japanese American kid when I was young. I really do think that it’s a great time for literature, especially children’s and middle-grade lit.
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An intense read about a young boy living on the border. His insight into family is both charming and funny. There are rocky points, but he is clear on the love of his parents and extended family. Use the entire book or just selected poems. Relevant to topics of today.
Jul 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: for-school
I went into it thinking it was a novel in verse, and kept looking for the narrative. When I finally realized (slow of me, I know!) that it was simply and beautifully a book of poems, I enjoyed them so much more!
Debbie Armbruster
Ok, but not what I had hoped for.

While I liked that the poems were snapshots of the life of a 12 year old boy, I found the end abrupt. 2.5 stars
Not quite a novel in verse, but more than a poetry collection, this book took awhile to win me over, but by the end I was sold. 4.5 stars.
Mariya Ortiz
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
This novel in verse transported me right back to the Rio Grande Valley with its references to Joya and tamaladas con chisme.
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a great time I had with this kid. El Güero reminds us what family is, what it means to live at the Mexico/US border and how to navigate between languages, experiences, and the politics of immigration.

This collection of poems can be read as a novel, each one of them stands on its own though, each one of them resembles a family photo, a memory, something so special it cannot be taken from you.
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am not LatinX, or in middleschool, or a boy, or living on the border, or call Guero...
but this book made me feel seen. Bowles packs each poem with emotion that captures a young person so perfectly. The length of this book will attract readers that may be intimidated by longer texts. The themes will provide inspiration for many conversations. A must have for teaching poetry or personal narrative units.
Esther | lifebyesther
I enjoyed the bilingual nature of this book and how Guero just gets to live his life. It's not focused on racism or trauma, but just events that happen to him, his family, and friends each day. There isn't a central plot line; this is just a collection of short poems describing his day to day.
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David Bowles is a Mexican-American author from south Texas, where he teaches at the University of Texas Río Grande Valley. He has written several titles, most notably THE SMOKING MIRROR (Pura Belpré Honor Book) and THEY CALL ME GÜERO (Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award, Claudia Lewis Award for Excellence in Poetry, Pura Belpré Honor Book, Walter Dean Myers Honor Book).

His work ha

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