ALA Midwinter, Boston: what a wonderful time and place to explore publishers’ upcoming titles. I set out to find new books that had a Hispanic character, theme, or backdrop. With one in four children in the United States being Hispanic, the task should have been easy and the offerings plentiful, right? Unfortunately, not much has changed, and the Latino market continues to be underrepresented. On the bright side, the few books I found are truly worthy and recommended for the shelves of every public and school library.
Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay. by Susan Hood. illus. by Sally Wern Comport. S. & S. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481430951. Spanish edition $17.99 ISBN 9781481466578.
PreS-Gr 3–In this book that’s based on a true story and set in Paraguay, Ada Rios’s dreams come true when music teacher Favio Chávez arrives. As he makes instruments out of materials found in the trash, Ada and her town are forever changed. This title will be simultaneously published in Spanish.
Los pollitos/Little Chickies. by Susie Jaramillo. illus. by author. (Cantícos). Little Pickle./Encantos. 2016. Board $14.95. ISBN 9780996995900.
Toddler/PreS–A beautiful accordion-style board book featuring one of the most well-known Spanish songs for children. With every page turn, there are flaps to open and wheels to spin, for a fully immersive, interactive reading experience. Flip it over for the English adaptation.
Looking for Bongo. by Eric Velasquez. illus. by author. Holiday House. 2016. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823435654. ebk. $16.95. ISBN 9780823436026.
PreS-Gr 1–A young boy searches for his favorite stuffed toy, but no one knows where it is. When he eventually finds it, he plans a clever trap for whoever took it. Spanish words are sprinkled throughout the text, and rich oil illustrations depict a loving Afro-Latino family.
Luis Paints the World. by Terry Farish. illus. by Oliver Dominguez. Carolrhoda. Apr. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781467757966.
Gr 1-4–In a bustling Dominican neighborhood in Massachusetts, young Luis wishes his brother Nico weren’t leaving for the army to see the world. He paints a mural in an attempt to keep his brother home, to no avail. As Nico sends pictures home, Luis’s world—as well as his mural—expands. The boldly colored illustrations have a dreamy, surrealistic quality.
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood. by Isabel Campoy & Theresa Howell. illus. by Rafael Lopez. HMH. Apr. 2016. Tr $14.85. ISBN 9780544357693.
PreS-Gr 3–In a community filled with gray, Mira shares her vibrant art with her neighbors, but it is not enough, until a mysterious artist lends a hand, and slowly the city fills with color. Based on the true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, California
¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z!: Descubriendo el bosque nublado/Olinguito, from A to Z!: Unveiling the Cloud Forest. by Lulu Delacre. illus. by author. Children’s Book Pr. 2016. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9780892393275.
K-Gr 4–This work presents the cloud forest habitat of the Olinguito, a recently discovered mammalian species from the Ecuadorean Andes. With beautiful mixed-media illustrations and a bilingual format that truly respects both languages.
The Midnight War of Mateo Martinez. by Robin Yardi. Carolrhoda. Mar. 2016. Tr $17.99 ISBN 9781467783064.
Gr 3-6–Life is confusing for Mateo Martinez on different fronts. His best friend Johnny Ramirez now hangs out with the class bully; he must behave as a big brother to his five-year-old sister, but she is very independent; his new friend shares his interest in knights and knighthood, which has led them into trouble; and now talking skunks (yes, talking skunks!) have stolen Mateo’s old tricycle. A story told with great insight, humor, and gentleness.
Burn Baby Burn. by Meg Medina. Candlewick. Mar. 2016.Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763674670.
Gr 7 Up–Set in Queens, NY, in the summer of 1977, with a Son of Sam backdrop, this work from Medina, who also wrote Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass (2013), is a strong and believable coming-of-age novel.
The Memory of Light. by Francisco X. Stork. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545474320. ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780545634021.
Gr 9 Up–An emotionally charged YA novel about a failed suicide attempt that dwells not on the events leading up to the attempt but on the journey back from depression. Richly nuanced, a must-read.