Estrella del Toro is a Mexican-American living in Monte Seco, Texas during the Great Depression. After organizing a protest against the mistreatment of Mexicans, her family is deported to Mexico despite having American citizenship. Estrella has to face discrimination daily because she is Mexican. She has to attend a Mexican school, which has less opportunities and offerings than the white school. The signs and posters on many of the doors and windows of businesses on the Anglo side of town spit out extremely offensive phrases such as “NO DOGS OR MEXICANS ALLOWED”. After being repatriated, Estrella has to face economic hardships, and as a result, she becomes humble and willing to work to provide for her family.
The companion novel to Shame the Stars, All the Stars Denied is a wonderful coming-of-age story that conveys deep social issues that are still relevant today. The prose flows smoothly from chapter to chapter, even with bits and pieces of Estrella’s journal scattered in between. It is a page-turner that many students will benefit from reading, especially the history of Mexican-Americans in the United States.
All the Stars Denied
Author: James Luna
PUB Date: 2018. 32 pp.
Reviewer: Marilse Rodriguez-Garcia
We meet Ana on her first day in Kindergarten as she begins her first run down the slide that stands “like a mountain” in her school’s playground. With the encouragement of her friends, she lets herself go. Subsequent pages show Ana, a year older, playing a new game with her friends, until sixth grade, when they must move to another school and leave the playground to the younger kids. On their last day, the friends play every game they played every year for one last time. Only Ana returns as a teacher years later and plays all the games with her students. Each double-page spread has an illustration on the right-hand page in lush colors showing the children at play. Their features and skin tones reflect their racial-ethnic diversity, and the illustrator shows their physical growth in subtle ways. On the left-hand page is the text — English above, Spanish below — with a small drawing inset in the middle. The Spanish is correct, colloquial, and faithful to the English original.
This book is appropriate for early readers as well as for reading to younger children. This picture book can be used to spark discussions about common school experiences. (Ages 4-7/ Bilingual)
Growing Up on the Playground
Author: Supriya Kelkar
PUB Date: 2017. 321 pp.
Reviewer: Anita Nham
Told by the perspective of 10-year-old Anjali Joshi, her perfect world is turned upside down. Her mother quits her secure job with Captain Brent of the British Army to join the Indian freedom movement in the 1940’s. Anjali’s mother freely volunteers for her family when Mahatma Gandhi, a practitioner of Ahimsa — non-violent resistance – asks Indians to give one family member to the freedom movement. Anjali isn’t happy about her mother’s decision, especially when her mother burns Anjali’s gorgeous Ghagra-Cholis, because they were made by the British, and replaces them with homespun cotton. Reluctantly, Anjali begins to attend freedom movement meetings with her mother and becomes inspired to start her own project to get Dalits, the “untouchables,” to attend school with the rest of the children. As the political situation intensifies, the winding road leads Anjali to emerge from her prejudices to continue making a difference in her town.
Inspired by her great-grandmother’s experience working with Gandhi, Supriya Kelkar does a phenomenal job in highlighting the Indian freedom movement. She also shines light on the differences of Indian cultures, caste, race, and religion, in an understandable manner. The debut novel is a poignant, yet rare glimpse into this part of history through the eyes of a child.
Author: David Bowles
PUB Date: 2018. 109 pp.
Guero is a Mexican-American 7th grade nerd, a border kid whose stories are told in this middle-grade collection of woke poetry.
THEY CALL ME GUERO
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