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Hispanic/Latino Literature

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Gonzalez-Bertrand, Diane. Family, Familia. Illustrated by Pauline Rodriguez Howard. Translated by Julia Mercedes Castilla. Houston, TX: Pinata Books, Arte Publico Press, 1999. ISBN: 1-55885-269-7.

 

The plot centers on a family reunion, the Gonzalez Family reunion.  Reluctantly Daniel goes with his family to the reunion in San Antonio, TX.   He is thinking he will be bored by the old people and their stories.  The reunion takes place in a park and everyone brings different kinds of food common to the people of Texas such as brisket, potato salad, and even watermelon.   They celebrate with mariachi music, dancing, and singing.  Daniel has so much fun.  He even found a new friend, Brian who in reality is his cousin. The two boys play baseball and skateboarding all afternoon.  The reunion is ended with the raffling of a picture of the founders of the Gonzalez Family, Ramon and Teresa Gonzalez.

Family/ Familia is a dual language book in English and Spanish.  The two versions are printed in the same page the English at the top and the Spanish on the bottom.  The English version is done in an excellent way with special attention given to detail.  The author uses some code-switching of Spanish in the English version of the story.   She uses it primarily in the dialogue and to call on family members.  This gives the story a special charm, a wonderful feeling of familiarity.   The Spanish version on the other hand misses some of that charm because the translator was not too careful about details.  For example, the phrase, “Tia Graciela and the mariachi singer danced” is translated as “ Tia Graciela y el mariachi cantante bailaron” and the correct manner is “ Tia Garciela y el cantante del mariachi bailaron”.

The illustrations, however, complement the story very well.   These are done in realistic drawings using very attractive soft colors.  Facial expressions are given special attention. The reader can understand very well the feelings of the characters just by looking at their expressions.   Daniel’s face is full of pride as he holds the picture of his great-grand parents.

"Since the gentle narrative lends itself to reading aloud, and the attractive, soft-focused illustrations are large enough for group viewing, this is a solid choice for story time and classroom sharing." —School Library Journal

 I agree with School Library Journal this is an excellent story to be read aloud to a group of students during story-time or classroom sharing.  We can even take it further and ask the students to share about their own family reunions or celebrations.  To make the discussion more interesting the students can even bring pictures or make a treasure box with artifacts collected from their family celebrations.  This is an excellent way for student to learn how other families in their same culture and in other cultures celebrate.

 

Reference:

School Library Journal Review of Family/Familia. Arte Publico Press, July 2, 2005 at http://www.arte.uh.edu/view_book.aspx?isbn=1558852697