Monday, December 27, 2010

Nosotros--my familia

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

List, more list, and Yuyilist

This is the time when children's books lists naming the best of the year sprout. You might have seen them already too:

The NY public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing10 for '10: Best Books for Youth on social Justice and Intercultural UnderstandingKirkus 2010 Best Children's Books
Publishers Weekly Best Children's books 2010The New York times Best Illustrated Children's Books of 1010
The Huffington Post Best Picture Books 2010School Library Journal Best Books 2010: Picture Books2010 Horn Book Fanfare

Even a couple of my favorite literary people make their own well informed list:

Fuse #8 100 Magnificent Children's books of 2010
Richie's picks: The Best of 2010

and many more.

So, why not a Yuyilist? Ok, unlike reviewers, I don't get to see even a minimal part of the about 5,000 children's books that are published every year. So my list would have to be different; it wouldn't be about naming the best of the year according to me. Instead it will have to be about 2010 books that caught my eye, that surprised me, that kept me reading late at night. And so here they are:

Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin. Duncan Tonatiuh (what a magnificent name; The Sun God) illustrated this book with an style that brings to modern days the indigenous art of Mexico. Notice the painting of people facing sideways like in the Mayan and Aztec art. The more I look at this book the more I admire it.

Chavela's Magic Bubble Gum. Yes, this book is illustrated by my sister Magaly, and, of course, I naturally feel close to anything she produces. But when I went to the store and looked inside the shelves, and even though I have seen the illustrations while it was being made, guess which book caught my eye? Yes, it was hers, with its warm colors and the magic of the bubble gum harvested from the sapodilla tress, with Abuelita's sweet face and pretty dresses, and the chicleros's whistling songs while they work.

Henry in Love= Yuyi in Love. To me this book is the epitome of a picture book: simple, elegant, beautiful, charming, carefully illustrated; in my opinion the right direction for picture books. An inspiration.

Me, Frida, to date the best work of David Diaz. Oh-huh, does that mean that he could win the...? He could win anything, indeed!

The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy). What a book! I loved peeking inside the little pages inserted between spread that show Susy's writing about her famous father Mark Twain. But what I loved even more what the cleverness of the compositions, the play of the illustrating elements, the light, and the use of lines.

Tortilla Sun. This middle grade novel kept transporting myself to the desert to make and savor tortillas in a different style from the one I learned when I was a child. While I didn't necessarily think of this book as magical realism (the way it has been publicized), I enjoyed it for the narrative, the landscapes it portrayed, and the familiarity I felt with the characters in this story.

Shadow. Susy Lee keeps coming with books that leave me thinking, leave inspired, and even leave me a little scared sometimes. There very few words in her books, but her designs makes for great narratives where feelings are abundant.

Petit, the Monster. Is Petit bad or is he good?. He is bad when he lies, but then he is good when he tells stories, right? I used to have the same problem as Petit; as a child I couldn't figure out if I was good or bad. I actually think, like this story suggest that, like in Petit's case, duality simply runs in my family.

Any Small Goodness: A small Novel of The Barrio. OK, I know, I know. This is not a 2010 book. I know! But it was only this year that I read Tony's novel, and I was wowed. This book is a little jewel, like a secret kept inside a little box in Abuelita's closet. What a pleasant surprise to find a book with inexplicable characters like Abuelita who arrived from Aguascalientes on a Norteño bus carrying her prayer book, a photograph of Grandfather, and her lava grinding stone molcajete. Or Mami, who's got possum-pavor, because she is convinced that they will give her tlacuachazos big possum hits when she take the garbage out at night. One of my favorite reads this year.

Now I must confess, I got a soft spot for City Dog, Country Frog. At first I wasn't warmed up to the image in the cover, but open it up and the images are tender, engaging, and funny. A book to love.

Other books I greatly enjoyed:
Little Owl Lost
The Dreamer
Side to Side: The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez
My Shoes and I
The Boss Baby
Dave the potter (what an elegant and beautiful book)

One book I haven't gotten to see yet, but that I am awaiting to read before the year is finished is Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush. this is a graphic novel, and I am very taken with the description and the art in the cover. Take a look.

What I am anticipating to see next year are two books with art from two of my favorite illustrators, Rafael Lopez and John Parra respectively, La Cazuela That The Farm Maiden Stirred (just look at this artwork!)

and Waiting For The Biblioburro.

I, for once, can't wait.