Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Non-Fiction Heroes + #NPM17 - 19 of 30

Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From Alyson and others, you will discover wonderful non-fiction books!

#NPM17 - Poem 19/30 - National Poetry Month.

"
Poetry is a language in which man explores his own amazement." – Christopher Fry


       My goal for Poetry Month: TINY THINGS. My choices may surprise you, and I'm excited to write, share, and read how everyone writes to meet their special goals for celebrating poetry month.
        I missed International Haiku Day yesterday, and this form seems right as an intro to Margarita Engle's new poetry book about those little-known heroes who persist in their passions despite heavy odds against them. It feels as if tiny actions day by day helped these people thrive.


                                humans in shadow,
                                persist anyway–
                                hidden history

                                           Linda Baie © All Rights Reserved




         What better way to learn of new ways to write poetry than to share and enjoy Margarita Engle's new poetry book that features poems of Hispanics few know. I remember attending a diversity workshop and the first question was to be answered on paper: "Write down famous people you know who are Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian, African, or any other ethnic group." I was ashamed that the only ones I did know were authors and a few scientists of those who were not Caucasian. If I had not been a teacher, I doubt I would have known them.
           Margarita writes poems of the lives of eighteen Hispanics from Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, and Venezuela. The poems in free verse highlight lives filled with challenges, often poverty, often racism, sometimes prison. Yet each one also is a description of persistence for the passions each held. And I also noticed that each one indicated that no matter how high the wall that must be climbed, curiosity to learn, then finding a way to education was the key to climbing it. 
          Writing about the challenge of two parents, two different countries, Margarita writes about Ynés Mexia: "I go to college in California, study botany,/and then set out to explore jungles/all over Mexico and South America."  And from Arnold Rojas: "I did not feel free when I was a farmworker. . .so I moved north/to the Central Valley, where I learned/the horsemanship skills/of un vaquero---a cowboy." Each person learned what was important to them, what they needed to know in order to improve their abilities. Some people highlighted may be familiar to you, like Pura Belpré because of the book award named in her honor; Roberto Clemente, the baseball player; and César Chávez, the farm rights activist.
           Poetry can stand alone, but as Margarita is offering a tribute to each of these Hispanics for their contributions to their communities, our world, Rafael Lopéz uses his  artistic talent to enhance the poems. He has painted a portrait of each, shown in a full page, often showing parts of that person's life within the portrait. For example, Pura Belpré holds a book with what seems to be rainbows (magic) streaming from the pages. Lopéz is known for the rich color and magical realism in his art. You can get a glimse of some of these portraits from the cover art. Added also to the poems for each person is one smaller picture that is color-filled and connected to that person's life. Here is one example from Louis Agassiz Fuertes.

You might have already been introduced to Louis Agassiz Fuertes in Margarita's picture book, Sky Painter

In addition to those poems, a two-page spread in the back matter offers a few sentences about even more people, ending with Richard Blanco, the poet who read his poem for President Barack Obama's second inauguration. Also, there are additional paragraphs of information about each featured person.

It's a book of poetry to love,  a group of small biographies that will inspire further research, and a book to savor when looking at each page. 

10 comments:

  1. Love your haiku, the book review, and this comment: "It feels as if tiny actions day by day helped these people thrive." What a powerful guide their actions provide for those who may wish to follow in their footsteps. I'm requesting the book now.

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    1. It's a wonderful book, Ramona. I hope you enjoy it!

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  2. Wow this looks just fantastic Linda!

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  3. What a great collection! I love the idea of blending nonfiction and poetry, they actually work together so very well. I wish I had books like this available with an Asian focus - I very rarely have kids with Latino roots in my programs, but the majority of my kids are Asian, and it would be lovely to be able to celebrate their heritage, too!

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    1. I'll keep an eye out for you, Jane. Thanks for telling about your need!

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  4. I have this book in my library stack to read. I've heard a lot of people talk about it lately, seems like one I want to check out.

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    1. I enjoyed it, and loved learning about these people who have done so much and yet we con't know very much about their lives. Thanks, Michele.

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  5. How appropriate to include your own wonderful haiku with this book!

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    1. Thanks, Annette. It felt right for the book.

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