Pat Mora

Book Review: Tomás and the Library Lady

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Tomás and the Library Lady 

Written by Pat Mora
Illustrated by Raúl Colón
Published September 23, 1997  by Dragonfly Books
Ages: 6+, 40 pages 
Genre/Topics: Realistic Fiction, Migrant Workers, Library

Tomás’ family is moving to Iowa again, since his mother and father are migrant workers. They pick fruit and vegetables in the summer for Iowa farmers and in the winter for Texas farmers. Tomás loves to listen to his Papá Grande tell stories. Papá Grande tells Tomás that he is now old enough to visit the library to then share new stories. Tomás has never seen so many books in one place. The librarian asks what he would like to read about and he says tigers and dinosaurs. Soon Tomás forgets about the library lady, Texas, and Iowa. Instead, the story becomes alive as he rides a dinosaur. The time quickly goes by and the library lady lets him check out books. Tomás returns home and reads the new stories to his family. During his visits to the library, Tomás teaches the library lady Spanish words. Sadly, Tomás must say good-bye to the library lady and the place that made him feel welcome as the summer ends.

I really enjoyed Tomás and the Library Lady, because the stories really come alive when Tomás reads and shares the books. The book is based on a real person named Tomás Rivera who was a migrant worker and became a writer, professor, and national education leader. He died in 1984. Tomás and the Library Lady  won the  Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, an International Reading Association Teacher’s Choice Award, and was nominated for the Texas Bluebonnet Award.

Tomás Rivera, B.A. '58
Tomás Rivera, B.A. '58 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Celebrate National Library Week!

April 8-14, 2012

A Piñata in a Pine Tree

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A Piñata in a Pine Tree: A Latino Twelve Days of Christmas

By Pat Mora, illustrated by Magaly Morales

Ages 5 & up, 32 pages

A Piñata in a Pine Tree is a delightful Spanish version of Twelve Days of Christmas. The only English is the first line on each page then the other items are listed in Spanish. Instead of a true love the girl receives gifts from her amiga. The pictures are colorful and capture a festive Christmas mood. The end of the book provides a glossary and pronunciation guide. The author also highlights Latino traditions, such as luminarias (paper lanterns) with a brown bag that has a candle inside. Luminarias symbolize lighting the way for the Christ Child. Another tradition mentioned are various foods eaten, such as pastelitos (small pies or turnovers) and tamales. The illustrator explained that the Twelve days of Christmas begin on December 26 and end on January 6 when Los Reyes Magos (Three Wise Men) visit young children with gifts. I enjoyed this cultural and informative book.

Gifts received:

Uno piñata in a pine tree
Dos pastelitos (two turnovers)
Tres tamalitos (meat wrapped in corn husks)
Cuatro luminarias (four paper lanterns)
Cinco guitarritas (five guitars)
Seis trompos girando (six spinning tops)
Siete burritos bailando (seven dancing donkeys)
Ocho pajaritos serenando (eight serenading birds)
Nueve campanitas sonando (nine bells ringing)
Diez estrellitas saltando (ten stars skipping)
Once lunitas cantando (eleven singing moons)
Doce angelitos celebrando (twelve angels rejoicing) 

Book Review: Wonderful Words Poems

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Wonderful Words: Poems About Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening 

selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins

illustrated by Karen Barbour

Ages 6 & up, 32 pages

Wonderful Words is a collection of fifteen short poems regarding words, books, reading, and writing. Each poem is on a double page with bright colorful pictures. These poems spark an interest to create poems, build words, and excite about reading. I’ll be honest, I don’t use poetry often. I probably enjoyed half of the poems, but it’s a great book to use when teaching poetry and a fun way to creatively explore words. Words Free as Confetti  by Pat Mora provides descriptive words for feelings and colors while introducing Spanish words.

Words Free as Confetti
by Pat Mora
Come, words, come in your every color. 
I’ll toss you in storm or breeze. 
I’ll say, say, say you,
taste you sweet as plump plums, 
bitter as old lemons. 
I’ll sniff you, words, warm 
as almonds or tart as apple-red, 
feel you green
and soft as new grass, 
lightwhite as dandelion plumes, 
or thorngray as cactus, 
heavy as black cement, 
cold as blue icicles, 
warm as abuelita’s yellowlap. 
I’ll hear you, words, loud as searoar’s 
purple crash, hushed
as gatitos curled in sleep, 
as the last goldlullaby. 
I’ll see you long and dark as tunnels, 
bright as rainbows,
playful as chestnutwind. 
I’ll watch you, words, rise and dance and spin. 
I’ll say, say, say you
in English, 
in Spanish, 
I’ll find you. 
Hold you. 
Toss you. 
I’m free too. 
I say yo soy libre, 
I am free 
free, free
free as confetti. 
abuelita: grandmother
gatitos: kittens
yo soy libre: I am free.