America Is Her Name

America Is Her Name

by Luis J. Rodriguez, Luis J. Rodrc-Guez, Luis J. Rodrguez
     
 

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Set in the Pilsen barrio of Chicago, this children's picture book gives a heartwarming message of hope. The heroine, América, is a primary school student who is unhappy in school until a poet visits the class and inspires the students to express themselves creatively-in Spanish or English. América Is Her Name emphasizes the power of individual creativity

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Overview

Set in the Pilsen barrio of Chicago, this children's picture book gives a heartwarming message of hope. The heroine, América, is a primary school student who is unhappy in school until a poet visits the class and inspires the students to express themselves creatively-in Spanish or English. América Is Her Name emphasizes the power of individual creativity in overcoming a difficult environment and establishing self-worth and identity through the young girl América's desire and determination to be a writer. This story deals realistically with the problems in urban neighborhoods and has an upbeat theme: you can succeed in spite of the odds against you. Carlos Vázquez's inspired four-color illustrations give a vivid sense of the barrio, as well as the beauty and strength of the young girl América.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In Rodrguez's ponderous, wordy story, a Mixteca Indian girl living in a Chicago barrio struggles to find her niche in a hostile society. The author eschews subtlety: the ironically named Amrica witnesses a sidewalk shooting while walking to school; the intolerant teacher of her ESL class dismisses her students as "difficult" and whispers to a colleague that Amrica is "an illegal"; the girl's uncle is a drunk, her father gets laid off and someone calls her mother a wetback. The imagery is equally heavy-handed, as in Amrica's description of the "desperate men without jobs": "They all seem trapped, like flowers in a vase, full of song and color, yet stuck in a gray world where they can't find a way out." Amrica escapes this bleakness by creating poetry ("A poet, Amrica knows, belongs everywhere"), but this flatly written tale doesn't serve its political agenda, nor does it transcend it. Vsquez's stylized art is also poorly targeted for the intended audience, who may be put off immediately to find that the young heroine looks considerably older than her nine years. La llaman Amrica, a Spanish-language edition, will also be released. Ages 6-10. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Nine-year old America has moved from Oaxaca with her family to the Pilsen barrio of Chicago. She is surrounded by neighborhood violence, accusations about being an illegal alien, economic and emotional pressures at home, and a teacher who screams and does little to understand her bilingual students. These troubles combine to make America wonder about her place in the world and she loses the "strong, open and free" voice of childhood she had in Mexico. When a visiting poet ignites her creative soul, she begins to write for herself. Despite her father's discouragement, her enthusiasm inspires other family members to write. When her uncle sees her artistry he comments, "she will bloom, long after we've rotted on the vine." By the end of the story America no longer feels lost, for her poetry teacher told her, "a poet belongs everywhere." The harshness of the book is softened by its lyrical expression.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-Nine-year-old America Soliz is an illegal immigrant of Mexican-Indian heritage living in the violence-ravaged Pilsen barrio of Chicago. Feeling unwelcome in her new country, she yearns to return to her native Oaxaca. Then one day, a Puerto Rican poet visits America's ESL class and tells the students that "There's poetry in everyone...and poets belong to the whole world." Soon, America begins to express herself through poetry, eventually coming to realize that as a poet, she is a citizen of the world with a bright future ahead of her. The story is generally well told, and its message is an important one. Dramatic, full-color illustrations that blend surreal and folk-art elements lend emotion to the text, and many of the drawings exhibit an interesting use of perspective. However, in most of the pictures, America resembles a mature adult instead of a little girl. A solid choice for bilingual and ESL collections.-Denise E. Agosto, formerly at Midland County Public Library, TX

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781880684405
Publisher:
Northwestern University Press
Publication date:
04/28/1998
Edition description:
1ST
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
893,729
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 10.30(h) x 0.20(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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