School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 4-7-- A fictionalized biography of Jose Antonio Navarro, one of Texas' native sons. Benito, 12, is the son of the jail guard at a Mexican prison in the 1840s. While feeding the prisoners, he meets Navarro, who has been imprisoned because of his revolutionary activities against the Mexican government. Navarro relates his story and befriends Benito in the process. Gurasich fails to portray the many complex issues of Texas' turbulent past with accuracy. Any biography of Navarro requires a full understanding of the subtle political complexities that were the order of the day. For example, Navarro fought for freedom along with Travis, Houston, and Stephen F. Austin against the tyranny of the dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana, yet he embraced slavery at a time when his country (Mexico) was vehemently opposed to it. Moreover, Navarro's total contributions to Texas' history are only partially told. There is no mention of his reputation as an eloquent speaker, nor of his knowledge of the Spanish legal system, which helped to lay the foundation for Texas' present system, and protected home ownership through the homestead laws. Finally, readers are not made aware of the complex civilization of the Mexicano state of Texas that existed long before the creation of the Republic of Texas. Such shortcomings only reinforce the unfortunate stereotypes and myths which pass for Texas history and, as a result, fail to provide readers with insight into Texas' cultural and political conflicts that the newly arrived Texans and the native Tejanos faced during this period. --Oralia Garza de Cortes, Houston Pub . Lib .
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