FICTION

They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid's Poems

160p. glossary. Cinco Puntos. Sept. 2018. Tr ISBN 9781947627062.
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RedReviewStarGr 5–8—Güero is a Mexican American border kid with nerdy tastes, pale skin, and red hair. Wishing he had been born with a darker complexion so no one would question his Mexican American heritage, Güero's family tell him to be grateful for the advantages his lighter hair and skin afford him and to use it to open doors for the rest of his family. And what a family it is! While Güero's wise, resourceful, and often hilarious family provides a buoy through the turbulent waters of seventh grade, so too, do influential educators and "Los Bobbys," Güero's liked-minded, bookish friends. The tuned-in school librarian fuels Güero's passion for reading with his diverse literature collection, and his transformational English teacher helps him discover his voice through poetry. Güero's voice carries this novel through a playful array of poetic forms, from sonnets to raps, free verse to haiku. A Spanish-to-English glossary at the back of the book aids the non-Spanish reader's understanding of the text, while it simultaneously, and perhaps more significantly, communicates the beauty of the language and of Güero's heritage. Readers come away with two worthy takeaways: firstly, that life is challenging for a child of immigrants on the southern U.S. border, and, secondly—triumphantly—a deep appreciation for the richness of Güero's culture.
VERDICT Vibrant and unforgettable, this is a must-have for all middle grade collections. Pair with both fiction and nonfiction books on immigration, forced cultural assimilation, and stories about contemporary Mexican American life.

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