Monday, April 20, 2009

Fiesta poetry

More catching up...

I’d like to introduce a new book that features Latino traditions in poetry and prose:
Sherry Shahan’s Fiesta!; A Celebration of Latino Festivals, illustrated by Paula Barragán

Although Sherry is not Hispanic, her simple month-by-month rhymes celebrating Latin American traditions are perfectly matched with the art of Paula Barragán, from Ecuador. The cut paper art reminiscent of papel picado, in layers of earth colors, creates a lively folkart backdrop for each double-page spread, from January (Enero) to December (Deciembre). A poem and paragraph combine nicely to describe a major festival or fiesta celebrated in various parts of Latin America, from Cinco de Mayo to Inti Raymi (an Incan new year’s event). The English and Spanish names for the months are spread across the end pages and then placed prominently with each poem.

Backmatter includes further expository information about each month’s celebration, as well as a pronunciation guide for the month names in Spanish. What fun for kids and classes learning the months of the year, as well as learning about the world’s cultures. Here’s one sample:

Día de los Muertos

Boys and girls giggle behind masks:




Pulling on strings brings sugary skeletons alive,

a boogaloo of be-bopping bones.

A loving celebration of the old ones.

Shahan, Sherry. 2009. Fiesta!; A Celebration of Latino Festivals. Illustrated by Paula Barragan. Atlanta, GA: August House.

Shahan and Barragán have collaborated on two other bilingual picture books, Spicy Hot Colors and Cool Cats Counting (a book about numbers). I’m not familiar with those two, but I am eager to check them out after seeing this effort.

And for more poetry about Latino celebrations, look for these collections:
Delacre, Lulu. 2004. Arrorró Mi Niño: Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games. New York:
Lee & Low Books.
Delacre, Lulu, comp. 1992. Arroz con Leche: Popular Songs and Rhymes from Latin America. New York: Scholastic.
Delacre, Lulu, comp. 1992. Las Navidades: Popular Christmas Songs from Latin America. New York: Scholastic.
Mora, Pat. 1996. Confetti: Poems for Children. New York: Lee & Low Books.
Orozco, José Luis, comp. 1994. De Colores and Other Latin-American Folk Songs for Children. New York: Dutton.
Orozco, José Luis. 2002. Diez Deditos: Ten Little Fingers and Other Play Rhymes and Action Songs from Latin America. New York: Dutton.
Orozco, José Luis.1994. Fiestas: A Year of Latin American Songs of Celebration. New York: Dutton.

And don’t miss Paula Barragán’s collaboration with poet Pat Mora, particularly appropriate with Mother’s Day around the corner:
Mora, Pat. 2001. Love to Mama: A Tribute to Mothers. Illustrated by Paula Barragán. New York: Lee & Low Books.

Image credit:

Posting (not poem) by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2009. All rights reserved.

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