If you are struggling this summer to find books that capture your son’s interest and imagination, take a look at these five extraordinary books for young boys.
The Best Mariachi in the World, El mejor mariachi en el mundo by J.D. Smith. Illustrated by Dani Jones. Raven Tree Press.
Your child will love this sweet picture book about a young boy named Gustavo, who dreams of being a great mariachi, playing the guitarrón in front of a roomful of appreciative fans. But because he cannot play the trompeta, the violín, or the guitarrón, his family won’t let him be a part of their mariachi band. So he does not get to perform with them in restaurants or at wedding parties. And, as a result, Gustavo feels like he is the worst mariachi in the world. Until one day he discovers his true talent. Written in English with Spanish words embedded in the text and a glossary in the back. Ages 4 to 8. Hardback.
Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask: A Bilingual Cuento. By Xavier Garza. Cinco Puntos Press.
This is a really fun book for little lucha libre fans. When young Carlitos attends his first lucha libre match with his Papá Lupe, he becomes mesmerized by the famous – and somehow familiar – luchador, the Man in the Silver Mask. Before long, Carlitos is a devoted fan, cheering for the other técnicos (good guys) and booing the bad guys, los rudos. Written with full text in both English and Spanish. Ages 4 to 8. Hardback.
Pele, King of Soccer/Pele, El rey del futbol by Monica Brown. Illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez. Rayo.
In honor of the UEFA 2012, why not introduce your child this summer to the Brazilian soccer legend, Pelé? With great skill, Brown tells the story of the poor boy from Brazil who loved fútbol more than anything else and became the biggest soccer star the world has ever known. English/Spanish text. Ages 4 and up. Paperback.
Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People. by Monica Brown. Illustrated by Julie Paschkis. Henry Holt and Co.
A beautifully illustrated story of the prolific Chilean author, Brown’s biography of Neruda perfectly introduces children to the concept of words as art. Monica’s storytelling is at its best as she captures Neruda’s love of nature, words, people, and life. Starting with his childhood and ending with his bravery as a poet of the people, I really appreciate the historical facts that she skillfully weaves into the story. Written in English. Ages 4 and up. Hardback.
My Havana: Memories of a Cuban Boyhood by Rosemary Wells with Secundino Fernandez. Illustrated by Peter Ferguson. Candlewick Press.
The childhood story of Cuban émigré and architect, Secundino Fernandez, who was forced to leave his beloved island home twice. Dino must come to terms with his overwhelming homesickness and begin a new life in a city that is completely different. The book is divided into four sections, which chronicle his early years on the island of Cuba, a year in Madrid, followed by another three years in Havana, and ultimately, his move to New York. The text is rich with imagery and details reflecting the unique properties of each city and time period. Along the way, children are briefly introduced to the historical/ political figures of Spain’s Generalíssimo Francisco Franco, Germany’s Adolf Hitler, Cuba’s Fulgencio Bautista and Fidel Castro, and Argentina’s Ché Guevara. This seems like quite a heavy load for young readers, but Wells presents the characters in bits and pieces as they were seen and understood by a young boy, making them easier for young readers to understand. Written in English. Ages 8 and up. Hardback.
Monica Olivera Hazelton, NBC Latino contributor and the founder and publisher of MommyMaestra.com, a site for Latino families that homeschool, as well as families with children in a traditional school setting who want to take a more active role in their children’s education. She is the 2011 winner of the “Best Latina Education Blogger” award by LATISM.