Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Themed Reviews: Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15 marks the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month. The website contains a wealth of information on a variety of topics surrounding the culture of Hispanic peoples. September 15 is the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico declared its independence on September 16, and Chile on September 18.

The term Hispanic, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, refers to Spanish-speaking people in the United States of any race. On the 2000 Census form, people of Spanish/Hispanic/Latino origin could identify themselves as Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, or "other Spanish/Hispanic/Latino." More than 35 million people identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino on the 2000 Census.

There are many other features of interest to help parents, teachers, and others interested in teaching/learning about Hispanic Heritage. The link to Spanish Loan Words was particularly interesting. We use so many of these words without being conscious of their origins. As summer comes to a close, we can welcome September with the last of the homegrown tomatoes (derived from the Spanish tomate, a corruption of the Nahuatl word tomatl) and look forward to the last of the mosquitoes (the same in English and Spanish -- annoying in either language!); during September we can focus on all things Hispanic and revel in the richness of the heritage shared (or adopted) by so many people.

The following book reviews offer a variety of interesting aspects of Hispanic Heritage to share with young listeners; the listing also includes books to interest older readers as well.

Once Upon a Time: Traditional Latin American Tales
Rueben Martínez
Translated by David Unger
Illustrated by Raúl Colón

A collection of stories popular among Latin American children is sure to bring back memories as parents read them to their own children. We start with the story of the "Wedding Rooster." The rooster is on his way to his uncle's wedding when he spots a kernel of corn he cannot pass up. The corn soils his beak setting a chain of events into motion that will have children giggling at the interconnectedness of life. The next story is the "Tlacuache and the Coyote," in some parts of the world the tlacuache is known as an opossum or weasel. Weasel fits him well as he tricks the coyote more times than the coyote can count, even when the coyote has decided he will not fall for one more of the tlacuache's tricks, he does, actually, he jumps. We are also treated to "The Mother of the Jungle," a lesson about being good to mother earth; Martina the Cockroach and Pérez the Mouse, a love story; "The Flower of Lirolay," the story of a blind king and his three sons who each want to inherit the throne; "The King and the Riddle," a story of a clever girl that wins the king's heart; and finally, "Pedro Urdemales and the Giant," the story of a mischief maker who outwits a giant in feats of strength. All classic stories, it is appropriate that they are bound together in one book. 2010, HarperCollins, $19.99. Ages 5 to 10. Reviewer: Mandy Cruz (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780061468957

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