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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

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  239 ratings  ·  53 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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4.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  239 ratings  ·  53 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
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 view
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
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
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked 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.
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!
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
Romeo Jr.
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Another great book by David Bowles. It had me feeling nostalgic about the days when I was a teen growing up in a border town in the Rio Grande Valley. I could relate to every poem written as if I were the one telling the story. While voices from the border have been historically marginalized, Bowles, and others of his stature, are shining light on a region that has been neglected far too long. This concise book is just what every kid from the border needs to read. I absolutely recommend it.
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!
Alina Karapandzich
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
The poems seem to reflect the thoughts of a middle school boy pretty well. Sometimes the references to different youth games and apps seems a little forced though and might come across as awkward to an actual tween/teen. But overall, I loved the poems. I thought they were a good mix of giving the everyday perspective of a border kid with others addressing some pretty heavy topics like racism and immigration policy.
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is awesome!! A book you can read, during family time, or you will also enjoy it as an adult. I guess since we had so much in common, this makes it exceptional! I really enjoyed every poem, and got a little laugh of them. I can assume a lot of border kids can relate to this book, and many may enjoy reading it. Also, for the adults that lived through these stages, is a good book to remember the good times!!
Mariah Aivazis
I really loved reading this book! It is about Guero who overcomes the bullies around him about celebrates family tradition. Through harsh realities and comfort, Guero, a Mexican-American feels he fits in on both sides because he is fluent in Spanish and English.
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.
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a beautifully-written book! My daughter and I both loved everything about this book: Güero himself, his relationship with his family, and the larger-than-life setting (and of course, the Spanish sprinkled throughout). Loved seeing the different poetry forms throughout too. Highly recommend!
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.
Kären Marroquin
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loved that this book not only celebrates Mexican/border culture, but also what it is like to be just a little different from everyone else.
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely stunning.
Amanda Victoria
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
there is a handful of books i’d love to gift to my younger self if i could—this one is now on that list.

it was funny and lighthearted. i really enjoyed it.
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this #ownvoice collection and can't wait to recommend it in my library. For my full review, please visit
Ernesto Cisneros
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book brought back so many fond memories for me. I'm sure it will do the same for many more.
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
4th grade +

They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid’s Poems is a collection written by David Bowles. The words are both the memories of his own experiences growing up in south Texas and the experiences of past students. The poems come in all different formats.

In Spanish, “Guero” is a nickname for guys with pale skin, Latino or Anglo. In the book, Guero is both lighter skinned than his family and has freckles, a trait his family points out will open doors not available to them. He doesn’t necessarily str
Raul M
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The back cover of this book indicates that this is a novel in verse. Yet the poems within can be read in nearly any order. The one exception may be found in the poems that speak of the seventh-grade narrator's love interest -- a female peer who is atypically (and admirably) assertive. While the book may be geared toward a young-adult audience, late elementary-school readers might also easily be able to grasp the poetry.

The book is fictional, but I'd nearly deem it a memoir, as likely many deniz
I actually thought it was a collection, not a verse novel. It is a marvelous story told by a new, interesting seventh grader with his own issues, bullies and girls, but loving and smart, he knows how to navigate both sides of the border. Twelve-year-old Güero, Mexican American, at home with Spanish or English and both sides of the border. His English teacher shows him how to make poetry cool!
I learned from a review that in Spanish, “Güero” is a nickname for guys with pale skin, Latino or Angl
Twelve-year-old Guero is Mexican-American and able to speak Spanish and English fluently. Like so many youngsters, he feels as though he fits just fine on both sides of the border between Mexico and the United States. In these poems, the word-loving seventh grader describes his family traditions and cultural connections as well as his friends, Los Bobbys, and their adventures. Of course, since he's now 12, he starts becoming interested in girls, and finds the right one for him even though she's ...more
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Guero is a kid living on the border between the U.S. and Mexico. He is an American citizen but his mom is from Mexico. So they travel the border frequently. Guero tells the story of his family life and his friends at school through a series of poems. These poems show the connections he has to the area around him and to his family. They also illustrate the racism he faces on a daily basis. One of the more heartbreaking poems was called Playoff Game where the girls' basketball team is in the playo ...more
Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
I always preface books in verse / poetry with a disclaimer that I don't really like books in verse. I recently read The Poet X and it made me remember that there was a time when I did like poetry. So I was kind of looking forward to reading some more for #hubchallenge19. But nah. I guess I get that he's portraying a middle school boy, but I'm pretty sure when I was in middle school I would have preferred something a little more complex.

I did really like the references to legends and folktales.
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is wonderful. It's the story of Guero, a 12-year-old who lives in Texas near the Mexican border. He gets his name because he's light-skinned, the lightest in his Mexican-American family. He does goofy and dumb things, hangs with his friends The Bobbys and battles bullies with poetry. There are hints of bigger issues, but David Bowles' novel-in=verse stays innocent and appropriate to his middle-grade audience. Lots of Spanish adds to the authenticity of this book. I didn't grow up along ...more
Tom Malinowski
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-school, poetry
The author reminisces about his childhood as a middle schooler with beautiful poetry. School, nerding out, his family, eating, making new friends... What any particular middle schooler will do. But Bowles captures his rich heritage and the challenges of being born in the U.S. but living close to the Mexican border and going back and forth with his family. Great detail about his feelings and the love of his culture.
Jan 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I love this boy. Love how he loves his world. He feels smarter and more aware than kids I know and can imagine; so I take him as a bit of a fantasy boy -- and this works (it is also how I take John Green's characters), although makes a little distance between me and this world. "Father's Day" made me hurt (in a good way): the sweetness perfectly balanced with pain. And I would read anything about Joanna.

Yes to more about what life is like on the border. I want to know.
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5/4 stars.
At just over 100 pages this poetry book is a quick read of a boy who lives near the Mexican border. Short poems (typically 1 page) they are fairly self contained. Themes of family, friends, romance (toward the end), growing up, belonging/otherness.
Wish more poems were included to create a more fully fleshed idea of the boy’s life. Example, there is a dog on the cover, but the 1 poem about the dog comes deep into the Book.
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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