After celebrating numbers (Cool Cats Counting
, 2005) and colors (Spicy Hot Colors
, 2004), this creative team turns to the concept of months, using each one to explore how Latin American countries mark various festive occasions. Each full-page spread combines vibrant art with a short poem and a prose paragraph that tells more about the customs surrounding each special day. Other than Cinco de Mayo and Día de los Muertos, many holidays will be new to American children. Mexico's Fiesta de San Antonio Abad in January, the Incan Inti Raymi in June, and Brazil's Águas de Oxalá in September are all featured. The only bilingual element is each month's name, and while there is additional information on each event at the back of the book, that's often the only place where specific geography is referenced. Still, this offers a good introduction to Latin America's many diverse cultures, at it will partner well with José-Luis Orozco's Fiesta: A Year of Latin American Songs of Celebration
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.
Using the months of the year in Spanish and English as a structure, this engaging survey introduces holidays from all over Latin America, many of which are not found in other books. Some may rightly quibble with the designation "Latino" for the Haitian holiday described in July, but the book's strengths compensate. Each double-page spread features Barragán's stunning cut-paper illustrations, which dance across the pages in different ways, sometimes just at the top half, bisecting each page, sometimes cascading down across the text. A brief poem is on the left, short explanations of such festivals as Cinco de Mayo, Día de Los Santos Innocentes and the pre-Columbian Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun) in Peru are on the right. A longer and more meaningful description of each holiday with its country of celebration is at the back and must be read to fully understand the significance of the customs alluded to in the main part of the text. Although there is a Spanish pronunciation guide for the months, there is no bibliography or resources for further reading.
Children't Bookwatch of the Midwest Book Review
Award-winning children's book team Sherry Shahan and illustrator Paula Barragan present Fiesta! A Celebration of Latino Festivals
, a picturebook introducing young readers to the colorful cultural holidays observed and enjoyed by Latino people. A two-page spread is devoted to a holiday from each month, ranging from the well-known Cinco de Mayo and Dia de los Muertos to the lesser known Day of St. Anthony and the Corn-Planting Ceremony undertaken in March. The last few pages offer a paragraph or two of more detailed information about each holiday, and the stylized color illustrations add the perfect touch to this wonderful glimpse into the festive fun of another culture.
Rene Saldana, Jr.
Shahan and Barragán (Spicy Hot Colors
and Cool Cats Counting
) join forces once again to provide readers with a delightful collection of poems and accompanying illustrations, this time in celebration of celebrations. But don't be fooled into thinking this is a simple look at fiestas from around the Americas. The book also serves as a bilingual lesson on the names of the months. On opposing pages, readers find "June" and "junio" and matched with them is the poem and a description of the festival associated with this time of year. With June, for example, readers will learn about Inti Raymi, a festival honoring the Incan sun god, in the hopes of "lur(ing) the sun back and warm(ing) the earth" after a long winter.
While a few of the festivals are more common (Cinco de Mayo and Day of the Dead, for instance), the majority are more obscure, and so the book lends itself to the teaching of the many Latino cultures' fiestas. The author includes two glossaries. The first is jam-packed with extra information on the history of the regions whose celebrations are highlighted in the poetry, the people linked with the festivals, and the beliefs surrounding the celebrations. Barragán's illustrations both complement and expand on the text. The art should be carefully studied to get its full effect. All in all, a wonderful book.
Midwest Book Review - Children's Bookwatch
is a bilingual book of Latino celebrations throughout the year. Each month of the year is highlighted with a special fiesta or celebration. A short poetic description of the holiday suitable for younger readers is followed by an explanatory paragraph appropriate for older students on the following page. Splashed across all the pages are the vibrant, joyous illustrations of each fiesta. Months and fiesta names are given in Spanish and English, along with other vocabulary words that pertain to the feat or festival. Fiesta!
will appeal to students of Latino cultures and others age 3 and up.
Midwest Book Review Children's Bookwatch
Award-winning team Sherry Shahan and Paula Barragan present "Fiesta! A Celebration of Latino Festivals", a children's picturebook that vividly presents fun facts about Latino festivals connected to each month of the year, from Cinco de Mayo to Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun). The celebrations of a wide swath of South American cultures are represented, including beloved holidays of Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, even the Quiche and Cuchumatan peoples of Guatemala. The blocky, colorful artwork adds the perfect complement to this educational and enjoyable tour of cultural festivities, highly recommended especially for children's public library collections.