NONFICTION

Soldier for Equality: José de la Luz Sáenz and the Great War

Abrams. Sept. 2019. 40p. bibliog. chron. glossary. index. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781419736827.
COPY ISBN
Gr 1-3–José de la Luz Sáenz knew that many people who had roots in Mexico were hard workers, just like his father, and he did not understand why people were mistreated simply because of their heritage. Luz, who was born in Texas, experienced discrimination firsthand and made it his goal to help others of Mexican descent. After working as a teacher, Luz joined the army to fight in World War I in the hopes that others would realize that Mexican Americans were also willing to sacrifice for the United States. Although Luz faced discrimination, even from some of his fellow soldiers, he made close friends and spent his time studying French, which helped him earn a position in communications receiving, translating, and sending messages. Upon his return to the States, Luz was disappointed to learn that the discrimination faced by Mexican Americans had not changed. Together with other war veterans in Texas, Luz worked to improve the rights of Mexican Americans, ultimately forming the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)—an organization that fought for democracy, justice, and equality. Tonatiuh’s traditional hand-drawn and collage-style illustrations depict Luz and his fellow Mexican Americans’ trials and victories, as well as the tragedies of the war. Clear, descriptive text traces Luz’s life and provides insight into his thoughts, feelings, and determination.
VERDICT A culturally and historically important work focusing on an inspirational Mexican American soldier who fought for America during the Great War, as well as for equal rights for his fellow Mexican Americans. An essential purchase for all children’s nonfiction collections.

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