Book review: Yes! We Are Latinos, by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, pictures by David Diaz

Ada, Alma Flor and F. Isabel Campoy. Pictures by David Diaz. Yes! We Are Latinos. Charlesbridge, 2016. $9.95. ISBN 9781580895491. 96 pages. Ages 7-12. P8 Q9

ada-yes-we-are-latinosThe United States is made up of immigrants from all over the world. Yes! We are Latinos gives thirteen accounts of children living in America. Some of us may think of a few easily recognizable immigrant groups as being Latino. There are Mexican migrant farmers, restaurant cooks, and domestic workers. However, as we learn in Ada and Campoy’s collection of poems and prose, the term “Latino” is used with pride by families from all over the world; including, Sephardic Jews who fled the Spanish Inquisition, Latinos descended from African slaves, and Latino immigrants whose first languages aren’t Spanish.  Each expression included in the book is told from the point of view of a child living in the United States. The children discuss everything from important cultural milestones and sports, to breakfast and shopping. What is always present in every description is the importance of education and family. Each family immigrated to the U.S. for the promise of opportunity, though specifics are rarely discussed within the prose—with the exception of the politics of the Dominican Republic and the Spanish Civil War. Following each child’s account is an educational examination of the context and history of the child’s ethnicity. These examinations may review geography, culture, history, the horrors of colonialism, or the country of origin’s relationship with the United States. Highly contrasting black and white prints illustrate the stories and break up the text. Most readers will relate to the stories found in this book, even if they are not Latino. After the main text of the book is an acknowledgment of the many contributors behind each story, ideas for further reading, a bibliography, and an index.

Verdict: The organization of this book is ideal for the classroom setting as it can be taught in its entirety or by ethnicity. I recommend it for school and public libraries.

March 2017 review by Lillian Curanzy.

[Editor’s note: In thirteen free-verse fictional accounts, Latino children of varied ethnicities–Mexican, Panamanian, Peruvian/Japanese, Sephardic–tell their stories, with each account accompanied by a non-fiction explanation of the character’s background and related historical events.]

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