Books

Deb Bock's Childrens Picks

Cesar Chavez: a Photographic Essay
This simply told, moving account of the life of Cesar Chavez reveals what a
humble yet forceful man he was, and what an extraordinary and internationally-known
person he became. An admirable quality of Stavans’ biography is the choice of photographs to illustrate Chavez’ life, because of the immediate yet historical connection photography creates. According to the author, a Latin American and Latino Culture professor at Amherst College, the photos were gleaned from the Farm Workers Archive and the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation, and most were shot by amateur photographers. Adults as well as young adults will find this a suitable introduction to Chavez.
Dance of the Eggshells = Baile de Cascarones
Aragon charms the reader with this celebration of a New Mexico tradition. Her family experiences shape this bilingual tale about two children who visit their grandparents during preparations and festivities related to cascarones, those colorful, decorated eggshells. Slight occurrences of sibling bickering, prepubescent obstinacy, and childish poutiness add a convincing touch of realism to which kids can relate. Love and respect for family prevail in the end. While never digressing from storytelling, Aragon reveals instructions on how to actually make the traditional eggs and perform the dance. Festively colorful illustrations add lively details and warmth to this picture book.
Emily Walks the Sheep Trail
Self-published efforts don’t always hit the mark, but this author, a retired elementary school teacher, succeeds as she portrays the first year in the life of Emily, a lamb. Shanks’ sharp photographs, coupled with simple yet detailed text, vividly convey a fascinating tradition in Arizona ranching. Emily walks the Heber-Reno Sheep Trail as others have done for more than 100 years. For young readers, this picture book is a captivating look at contemporary family ranch life, too. The publisher also has a Spanish version of this book available, titled Emilia Camina la Vereda de Borregos.
Hidden Life of the Desert
Arranged in order of the Sonoran Desert’s seasons (indeed, not four but five!), this book’s lively, interesting text closely corresponds to sharp, vibrant photos. Focusing on plants and animals that thrive during each season, the reader learns about distinct characteristics as well as symbiotic relationships. Wiewandt has done a marvelous expansion of the first edition of this title. Sadly, however, the depredations that have occurred in the intervening 20 years since the first edition have led the author to include a new section, “Facing the Future,” filled with grim descriptions of man’s alterations and damage to fragile deserts and their inhabitants. He also includes some resulting conservation efforts. Pronunciations of unusual names and words are helpfully inserted in the text. Inclusion of a glossary, recommended resources, a list of scientific names and an index enhance this new edition, which is an informative and fascinating addition to any school, library or family’s bookshelf.
Tale of the Pronghorned Cantaloupe, The
Although this story about wild, pronghorned cantaloupes may never achieve the legendary status of other classic American tall tales, Steinsiek’s vivid imagination has certainly created a clever yarn. Told in the vein of a father’s “back when I was a boy” recollection, this young son’s version recounts one humorous image after another. The warm, earth-toned illustrations and New Mexican folk art framing of the text add to the folk tale sensibility. This is a simple yet charming picture book from a regional publisher who features regional authors.

About Deb Bock

Deborah Bock is a retired Pima County Public Library reference librarian, and a former librarian for its Arizona Collection and Elizabeth B. Steinheimer Collection of Children’s Materials on the Southwest.

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