Laughing Out Loud, I Fly: Poems in English and Spanish


From one of the most prominent Chicano poets writing today, here are poems like sweet music-to make the body shake and move to the rhythm of rhyme, to the pulse of words. Juan Felipe Herrera writes in both Spanish and English about the joy and laughter and sometimes the confusion of growing up in an upside-down, jumbled-up world-between two cultures, two homes. With a crazy maraca beat, Herrera creates poetry as rich and vibrant as mole de ole and pineapple aroma of papaya...a clear soup with strong ...

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From one of the most prominent Chicano poets writing today, here are poems like sweet music-to make the body shake and move to the rhythm of rhyme, to the pulse of words. Juan Felipe Herrera writes in both Spanish and English about the joy and laughter and sometimes the confusion of growing up in an upside-down, jumbled-up world-between two cultures, two homes. With a crazy maraca beat, Herrera creates poetry as rich and vibrant as mole de ole and pineapple aroma of papaya...a clear soup with strong garlic, so you will grow not disappear Herrera's words are hot& peppery, good for you. They show us what it means to laugh out loud until it feel like flying.

Juan Felipe Herrera's vibrant poems dance across these pages in a dazzling explosion of two languages English and Spanish. Skillfully crafted, beautiful, joyful, fun, the poems are paired with whimsical black and white drawings by Karen Barbour. The resulting collage fills the soul and the senseshot and peppery, good for you and celebrates a life lived between two cultures.Laughing out loud, I fly, toward the good things,to catch Mama Lucha on the sidewalk, afterschool, waiting for the green-striped bus,on the side of the neighborhood store, next to almonds,Jose's tiny wooden mule, the wiseboy from San Diego,teeth split apart, like mine in the coppery afternoon . . .

22000 Pura Belpre Award 

A collection of poems in Spanish and English about childhood, place, and identity.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Delia A. Culberson
As luminous as "a hunk of sun" or "a bouquet of coconut sparkles," Herrera's playful verses hopscotch through these pages on a backdrop of simple yet imaginative sketches that conjure images as fresh as a bright summer rainbow. Although his beginnings are modest-"mi papi leaves to work the fields, floats in tractor dreams," his family lives in a "trailer house"-the narrator has a "mamá who works poems, who writes about hard days, good bread." The speaker's fine playmates-his little friend, Mesalina; Socrates, the whispery cat; Baldomero, his cockatoo-along with Herrera's clear, perceptive eye, are coupled with a fanciful imagination and a natural optimism endowing the speaker's surroundings with an enchanting aura that makes these poems hymns to life itself. It is perhaps in the last poem in the book, "I Carry The Sun In My Pocket," that this gifted Chicano writer best defines his true self, his strong spirit, his positive attitude, in lines such as: "my secret sun, my heart, my words pouring with flavor / of strawberry, spearmint, pineapple & coconut, this sun / that I carry, the one that cradles me, floats to my shoulder . . . you are / my growing branch, the little volcano voice recites, my child / play ball like light." As Herrera attests, growing up in a bicultural and bilingual environment can be exciting, bewildering, challenging, and so much fun. In this "confetti explosion" of a book, the author's poetic voice recalls some of his experiences with vivid word pictures and childlike humor, such as "I am a monkey cartoon or a chile tamal." Herrara's joyous celebration of language makes this slim volume, with its rich imagery and musical stanzas, a real treat for bilingual readers and anyone who loves poetry. Illus. VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Will appeal with pushing, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
School Library Journal
Gr 6 UpJuan Felipe Herrera has written a series of poems in both English and Spanish celebrating his childhood. The poet sizes up life, observes what's around him, revels in its tastes and smells"I am a monkey cartoon or a chile tamal, crazy/with paisley patches, infinite flavors cinnamon &/banana ice cream, it's 3 in the afternoon...." Barbour's black-and-white drawings accompany each poem, delicately underlining its images but allowing the strong sensuality of the words to seep into readers' minds. To read the collection is to come to know the narrator who carries "the sun in my pocket, playing the gold violin/a seven-stringed branch of water & bronze...." Laughing Out Loud, I Fly joins a growing number of English/Spanish poetry collections for young people, such as Lori Carlson's Cool Salsa (Holt, 1994) and Naomi Shihab Nye's The Tree Is Older Than You Are (S & S, 1995). It offers selections from a poet's heart to savor again and again.Kathleen Whalin, Greenwich Country Day School, CT
Kirkus Reviews
Citing Picasso's Hunk of Skin as his inspiration, Herrera (Calling the Doves/El Canto de las Palomas, 1995) offers 22 poems in facing English and Spanish versions, printed over Barbour's pale, floating figures of images from Mexican folk art. Subordinating meaning to sound and rhythm, the poet writes in quick, breathless phrases that sometimes read like random listsþ"I own many socks, some with wings/others Alexandrines, 6 of white beaches/ & 1 skin-diving pig, `Where are my sockos?' as Papi says,/one tambourine socko for your flower-vase head." Literalists may flounder, but the music comes through clearly, especially in the Spanish: " `¨D¢nde est n mis calcetas?' como dice Papi,/una calceta de pandereta para tu maceta." The voice is a child's, and while references to places in Mexico, California, and the Southwestþas well as Chechnya and Sarajevoþflicker past, it's food and family, spices, pets, and friends that recur. This is poetry to read aloud, to read quickly, to understand more with the heart than with the head. (Poetry. 12-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060276041
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/28/1998
  • Language: Spanish
  • Edition description: Spanish Language Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 476,696
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Juan Felipe Herrera holds the Tomás Rivera endowed chair in creative writing at the University of California, Riverside. He is the author of numerous poetry volumes, including Half of the World in Light; 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross the Border: Undocuments 1971-2007; Border-Crosser with a Lamborghini Dream; and numerous children's books, including The Upside Down Boy, which was adapted into a musical in New York City; Laughing Out Loud, I Fly, winner of a Pura Belpré Honor; and Cinnamon Girl, winner of the Américas Award. He was also awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He lives and tours with the poet Margarita Luna Robles.

Karen Barbour has illustrated many books for children, including You Were Loved Before You Were Born; Fire! Fire! Hurry! Hurry!; I Have an Olive Tree; and Marvelous Math: A Book of Poems, which was a Parents' Choice Gold Award winner. She wrote and illustrated Little Nino's Pizzeria, a Reading Rainbow selection. Her paintings have been exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tokyo, and Rome. She lives in Point Reyes Station, California.

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Read an Excerpt

A carcajadas, yo vuelo

A carcajadas, yo vuelo, por bien
por ver mama Lucha en la banqueta, despues
de la escuela esperando el bus de verdes listones,
al lado de la tienda de abarrotes, cerca de las almendras
la mulilla de jose, el chispa de San Diego,
con dientes separados, como los mios en la tarde de cobre
son como las 3, la mosca me mancha la oreja, pero brinco
soy una caricatura de chango o un tamal chiloso, loco
con parches remendados, sabores infinitos a canela y
paletas de platano, son las 3 de latarde, no, a las 5
dijo mi madre que me Ilama
y sale del camion, un arco iris.

Laughing Out Loud, I Fly

Laughing out loud, I fly, toward the good things,
to catch Mama Lucha on the sidewalk after
school, waiting for the green striped bus,
on the side of the neighbor hood store next to almonds,
Jose's tiny wooden mule, the wiseboy from San Diego,
teeth split apart, like mine in the coppery afternoon
it's about 3, the fly smears my ear but I jump
I am a monkey cartoon or a chile tamal, crazy
with paisley patches, infinite flavors cinnamon &
banana ice cream, it's 3 in the afternoon, no, at 5
my mother says she will call
& arrive, a rainbow.

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