Thursday, May 29, 2014

Cuentos...discovering the Person Behind the Story: Duncan Tonatiuh

May Spotlight on Children’s Writer and Illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh

This month we are featuring Duncan Tonatiuh, an award-winning writer and illustrator who is well-known not only for his distinctive art style but for a narrative that often deals with various social issues. His newest book, Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation, focuses on Sylvia Mendez and how her family fought for the desegregation of California public schools years before Brown v the Board of Education.             

Duncan, of the books you have written and drawn, which do you reflect the most on? Why?
I'm very proud of Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote. The book reads like a fable, but it is also an allegory of the dangerous journey undocumented immigrants go through to reach the US. Coyote refers to the animal, but its also slang for person that smuggles people between the US-Mexico border.
I like that I can read the book to 4 year olds -little kids like the suspense in the story. But I can also talk about Pancho Rabbit with older kids, teenager and adults. The book is a good way to start a discussion about immigration in the classroom.
I've had many rewarding experiences with Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote
The most rewarding experience I've had with it is when a group of 4th graders at Metz Elementary in Austin, Texas made a multi-voice poem video about their own immigrant experiences after they read the book. 
Here is a link to it. It’s very touching:

What advice would you give your younger self?
I'm not sure to be honest. I've tried to be curious and courageous. I've always tried pursuing the things I'm passionate about. There are many things I could have done better, but I think I've learned a lot from my mistakes.
I consider myself very fortunate. I am bilingual and I am a citizen of two countries. I think that growing up in both Mexico and the US has been a great privilege and an advantage. Its made me appreciate more what each of those countries has to offer.

What three children’s books, other than your own, would you name as must reads? Why?
Hmmm... There are a lot of great books out there, it’s hard to name only three.

I like Where the Wild Things Are. Its a fantastic picture book. The text and the illustrations work so well together. I love the design of the book and how the illustrations grow large and then small again.

Just A Minute by Yuyi Morales is another one of my favorites. I like the rhythm of the book and I like stories that can be read in more than one way. You can take Señor Calavera literally or metaphorically.

Another book I really like is Macario, by B. Traven. Its a short book -about 100 pages long.  I'm not sure if it has been translated to English. It’s the story of a very poor woodcutter whose dream in life is to eat an entire turkey by himself. One day his dream is about to come true, he is in the middle of the woods, about to eat the bird, when three strangers come to visit him. It’s one of the first books I read when I was a kid and I've remembered it ever since.

What are three places you would suggest children/families visit when in your hometown?
I grew up in San Miguel de Allende. Its a beautiful city in central Mexico. It was recently named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The downtown, the centro, is very pretty. It has cobblestone streets and colorful colonial buildings. I think its very pleasant to walk around and sit in the Jardin, the city’s main square.
Another place that I recommend is the Botanical Garden. Its called el Charco del Ingenio. It has a large and beautiful cactus collection. Sometimes there are concerts, temazcales or other events. It’s a wonderful place.
My favorite place in San Miguel is the library, La Biblioteca Pública. It has a very good collection of children's book and one of the largest collections of books in English in Mexico.  It has a great courtyard, there are a couple rooms with cool murals, there is a theater, a cafe and a bookstore. It is a lively and pleasant place. I've written the stories and drawn the sketches for some of my books there.

To learn more about Duncan, visit his website

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

One Book, One Barrio / "The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano" by Sonia Manzano

La Casa Azul Bookstore is proud to spearhead a community-wide reading campaign to promote literacy and foster community through literature in El Barrio.

Today we announce The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, by Sonia Manzano as the very first book of the One Book, One Barrio project!


In 1998, Nancy Pearl from the Washington Center for the Book in the Seattle Public Library, launched the campaign "If All Seattle Read the Same Book," designed to unite the community of readers under the same book.
The goal of the campaign was to encourage the public to read one particular book and to participate in several educational and literature-based programs associated with the chosen book. Today, countless libraries, schools and bookstores across the United States have adopted their own version of "One Book" with the same enthusiasm and vision as it's original campaign. 



One Book, One Barrio will take over East Harlem with the critically acclaimed novel The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano. 

The star of Sonia Manzano's latest work, Evelyn Serrano, a young girl growing up in East Harlem in 1969, finds herself in the quest to reconcile with her Puerto Rican heritage, all the while history is being made right outside her door in the streets of El Barrio.
In the summer of 1969, The Young Lords, a group of activists that sought to bring basic rights to the forgotten community of East Harlem, organizes their first action known as the "Garbage Offensive." In this bold move, The Young Lords, with the help of the community gathered piles of uncollected garbage that the Sanitation Department refused to pick up from the streets of El Barrio and set them ablaze on large street intersections of the city to protest the inequalities and neglect the community of Harlem was subject to. This urgency for change that prompted groups such as The Young Lords to rise is the same that would push Evelyn to find her voice and pride in her community. Evelyn Serrano is moved by the brave activist group and with the support of her abuela, joins the movement that captivated a generation of Latinos in East Harlem.
The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano, not only draws attention to the pressures of growing up Latina but also captures the essence of a powerful time in the history of East Harlem.  

Sonia Manzano
Join us!
Launch of One Book, One Barrio  

Saturday, June 7, 2014  

1:00pm - 2:30pm  

La Casa Azul Bookstore welcomes Sonia Manzano to celebrate her literary contributions with a book reading, and signing of The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano. Free event.

For the next 12 months, the One Book, One Barrio calendar will feature a diverse collection of events that intersect with major themes in Sonia Manzano's The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano
Some of these events have been designed with the One Book, One Barrio project in mind, and others simply connect thematically with the book. Visit our website for a listing of One Book, One Barrio events.

One Book, One Barrio will be a success with your involvement and support, let's get inspired and make history through literature and let's make sure everyone in East Harlem picks up their very own copy of The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano.

Ready, set, go!