ReadMe: Abuelos

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This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to our winner: Melissa Davis!

One of the parts I love the most about SpanglishBaby is all the discoveries I’ve made of things I would’ve never known existed otherwise–this has been particularly true in the area of books.

As you probably know by now, back in July we launched our newest monthly series, which we call: ReadMe. We have teamed up with several Bilingual/Spanish children’s book publishers to bring you a review of a new book every month. The post includes an interview with the author in which we specifically touch upon the subject of raising bilingual and bicultural children.

Ana Lilian and I decided to create ReadMe because we wanted to have a series dedicated exclusively to literacy and bilingualism. We have all heard about the importance of reading when raising bilingual kids. We want to reinforce how fundamental this activity is by highlighting the options we all have available when it comes to bilingual children’s literature.

We also want to encourage you to read to your children or – if they’re old enough to do it themselves – to help you inspire them to do so. That’s why each monthly ReadMe will also include a giveaway of the book we’ll be reviewing :)

Abuelos by Pat Mora


Although Pat Mora, the author of this month’s ReadMe book, is no stranger to SpanglishBaby, the subject matter she writes about was a mystery to me prior to reading the wonderful story she came up with for her book titled, Abuelos. And, since we’re celebrating Hispanic History Month until Oct. 15, I thought this would be the perfect book to do so. Let me tell you why…

When Groundwood Books, the publisher of Mora’s Abuelos, suggested this book, I erroneously assumed from the title that it was a book about just that: abuelos or grandparents. Oh, was I in for a big and pleasant surprise.

I have always been incredibly interested in the study of cultural traditions and customs. In fact, if I hadn’t become a journalist, I always dreamed of being an anthropologist or a sociologist. I’m pretty intrigued by people and their ways. Therefore, I was thrilled after I read Mora’s book and found out that Abuelos is actually the name of a New Mexican tradition that goes back hundreds of years and it’s a bit like Halloween (because of the costumes) and Christmas (because of the ‘you better be good’ concept) mixed together, but not really…

Pat Mora

Pat Mora

You see, legend has it that in the middle of the winter in northern New Mexico, the men from the village would go up the mountains, dress up like sooty, old men with scary masks (abuelos) and then they would go back down to check if the village’s children were behaving. The day this tradition takes place, the villagers build big bonfires and everyone gathers around them. The abuelos try to catch the children and then they have them dance and sing around the fire. The whole spectacle ends with a fiesta at one of the villager’s home where traditional treats are served and everyone has a great time! Doesn’t that sound awesome?

Mora tells the story of this tradition as seen through the eyes of two niños who experience it for the first time. The hermanos, who’ve recently moved to a small New Mexican community with their family, have been told about the tradition, but are not really sure whether it’s true or not nor when and how it’ll actually take place. More than anything, it seems as if they’re not sure whether to be scared or just simply amused by the long-standing tradition. The illustrations, by artist Amelia Lau Carling, are perfectos for this kinda-scary story with a happy ending?

The book was originally written in English with a few Spanish words sprinkled all about, but there’s also a Spanish version. In this case, however, I think the main thing about this book is that it’s a great tool to teach our niños about cultural traditions. And, even though, they might not be our own traditions, customs like this one are a good way to reinforce the importance of heritage and language–as we’ve said many times in the past.

The Giveaway:

Part of ReadMe includes the opportunity to win a copy of the book being reviewed. If you’ve read any of Pat Mora’s children’s books, then you know this is one you need to add to your collection. And, if you haven’t, this is your chance to discover a great Latina author. I promise you won’t be disappointed. To win, all you have to do is share with us a cultural tradition you like your children to know about. It’s that easy!

Giveaway rules.

This giveaway ends at midnight EST on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2009.  Only valid U.S. shipping addresses.

Entries/Comments that do not follow the submission guidelines will be invalid and automatically deleted.  Sorry, just need to keep  it fair. Good luck to all!

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