Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Peppermint Candy Craft

This is a great craft to do during the holidays. You can make a peppermint candy ornament or decoration using toilet paper rolls, striped peppermint candy-like wrapping paper, cellophane paper, tape, and ribbon and/or yarn.

This cellophane has snowflakes on it.

Wrap the wrapping paper around the toilet paper roll and secure with a piece of tape. Cut a piece of cellophane larger than the toilet paper roll and wrap around the toilet paper roll and secure with tape. Pinch the ends like a candy wrapper and tie a piece of yarn to create the candy wrapper look. You can also use ribbon if you prefer, or use ribbon to make a loop to hang the candy from your tree. 

Too cute!!


Mario Alberto Zambrano

Eleven-year-old Luz hasn't spoken since it happened; instead, she uses a deck of Lotería cards and writes a journal entry for each card (minus one, which is missing). The entries are related to the cards and slowly we come to find out more about Luz, her older sister Estrella, her mother and father, her aunt Tencha, and their family friends. We discover that Luz loves to sing with her father, who has a job at a plant but who has always wanted to be a painter. We learn that Estrella acts like a young lady even though she is not a teenager yet, that the family comes from Reynosa, Tamaulipas, where they still have family. The card for La Muerte foreshadows the destruction of the family, without even a death occurring in that chapter. Throughout the book you wonder why Estrella is in the hospital, why Luz is being kept at a center, why she hasn't spoken, why her father is in jail, and where her mother is. Some of the stories are too short and, I feel, should have been longer in order to include the symbol on the card more solidly in the story, but the book is very well written and the story is a heartbreaking one.

One a personal note, I was caught by surprise when I realized that the story takes place in the neighborhood where I grew up, and the family is from a region in Mexico near where my own family is from. At times, I thought I might have known the author, the story was so familiar.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

SLJ's Top 10 Latino-themed Books of 2013

School Library Journal has a list of their Top 10 Latino-themed books for 2013.

These books are all so great, I especially want to read Niño Wrestles the World and Yes! We Are Latinos.

Check out the full list here:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Day of the Dead, Count Me In!

Day of the Dead
Tony Johnston
Jeanette Winter

This beautiful little book contains so much. One of the most noticeable things about the book is that it is so small - it is nowhere near the size of a regular picture book. The title is in large letters and the illustrations remind me of papel picado - cut paper that is traditionally used as decoration. I have looked over several Day of the Dead books recently and what I love most about this one is the detail it goes into regarding the traditions of the holiday. The food gathered for the occasion includes: empanadas, fruits, sweet bread, pan de muertos, tamales, sugar skulls, and mole. The family gathers the traditional marigolds and they take all these treasures to the cemetery with them. I love how the houses look built from adobe or dry clay, and the tias and mama are shown cooking with tools such as a molcajete. The book shows as much of the tradition as it tells. Small details, such as the angel bringing out the stars and taking them back up when the sun is about to rise, are really lovely to find. And finally, I love how the family visits their grandparents and brings these colorful treasures to share with them. A very brief but concise book about the Day of the Dead.

Count Me In!
A Parade of Mexican Folk Art Numbers in English and Spanish
Cynthia Weill
Ceramics by the Aguilar Sisters: Guillermina, Josefina, Irene and Concepción

This bright book focuses on a festival called the Guelaguetza (Zapotec, “to share”), a festival that takes place in July in Oaxaca, Mexico. The illustrations are photographs of ceramic people dressed for the parade and in traditional Oaxacan clothing. Each page has a number that corresponds with the ceramic figures in the photograph. The people are introduced (the balloon holder, the gigantes, the observers) through the photographs and text that tell the story of the festival. The reader can learn about this tradition, what it means, the participants, and numbers all at the same time. I love that the text is translated into Spanish, so you can learn the numbers from one to ten in both languages. And finally, I really love that the book includes information about the Aguilar Sisters, who create very detailed ceramics focusing on the people of Oaxaca. From the first end paper to the last, the book includes new information about Oaxaca, ceramics, the Aguilar Sisters, counting, and more.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Holiday Bulletin Boards

For the main holiday bulletin board, I wanted to make a gingerbread house scene:

The bottom says "Reading is Snow Sweet" in candy cane font.

I made five snowmen to put over the computers. They are made out of plain white computer paper, construction paper, candy cane-striped wrapping paper, with google eyes and pipe cleaner hands. Their smiles are made out of tiny hole-punched silver and gold dots.

I found the pipe cleaner snowflakes in the craft cabinet we have, and I made the phrase "Season's Readings" with the candy cane-striped wrapping paper. 

I was originally going to include the phrase "Season's Readings" in this Christmas lights font, along with these book trees I made, but I ultimately went with the snowmen and the snowflakes. 

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Mexico ABCs

Mexico ABCs
A Book About the People and Places of Mexico
Sarah Heiman
Illustrated by Todd Ouren

This book offers much more than an alphabet of Mexico. Included are facts about the words that make up the alphabet, as well as quick facts about Mexico. You will learn about the history, traditions, foods, and animals that help make up Mexico. Colorful illustrations decorate the pages, and each Spanish word is followed by a guide to help you say it yourself. The book ends with instructions on how to make crepe-paper flowers. This is a must read for everyone – by the time you finish reading this book, you will have gained a small fortune in knowledge about Mexico.