Monday, May 9, 2011

Setting the Mood for a Cinco de Mayo Fiesta With Picture Books

Why do gringos celebrate Cinco de Mayo? May 5th has become a date where our family celebrates Hispanic culture, American style. Tanya over at The Rockin' Momma Blog has said it so well I just have to send you straight to her: 
I knew that this holiday is more American than Mexican, but didn't realize the confederate connection...very interesting, especially in Virginia, where recounting history is a daily part of my life!

There's nothing like picture books to help set the mood for a fiesta.  True to the status of our holiday, none of our favorites here are truly Cinco de Mayo stories.  Instead, they reflect Hispanic culture or influence.  The list is small!  I have a few more on hold at the library but the selection there is small, too.  I'll add more as I find them.  Please feel free to share your favorites!

The setting of, She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain, by Philemon Sturges and Ashley Wolff, is what makes it a great Cinco De Mayo choice.  It takes place in the desert Southwest, with desert animals as the main characters, including the singing collared lizard story-teller.  The story follows the animals doing various tasks that suit their personalities (ie. grouse drumming), to get ready for a grand fiesta honoring a special guest.  Kids will see a fiesta unfold from food to music and even a pinata.  This book can be read, but it is even better sung.  The words/lyrics follow the folk tune of  "She'll be coming round the mountain."  And who is coming? The librarian in her bookmobile!  Now that is a good reason to celebrate! 

We stumbled on this gem, Rosa's Parrot, by Jan Wahl and Kin Howard, while perusing the stacks on our mobile library service bus.  Kids know that parrots like to mimic humans, right? Wahl transforms this fact into a magical and clever story of a human/bird friendship.  Pico the Parrot helps Rosa, who is hard of hearing, by repeating things for her. Being a parrot though, and possessing the ability of a great and LOUD mimic, he can't resist getting into a little trouble at the market.  Rosa figures this out, of course, and is not happy with him.  It is not long, however, before all is forgiven and the two are sharing hot chocolate together.  All of us were entranced by the rich art and imaginative story.  After we checked it out three times, we had to go get ourselves a copy!  The colorful art, inventive story, and south of the border scene make it a great choice for Cinco De Mayo.  The universal theme of friendship in a setting of overcoming a human disability (hearing loss) make it a great and unique choice for anytime.

Mice and Beans, by Pam Munoz Ryan and Joe Cepeda, is another lovely fiesta story.  A grandmother (also named ROSA, no kidding!) is preparing a birthday party for her grand daughter, Catalina.  She has lots of room in her house for the party, except for mice.  The very mice that are in her way (she's always setting traps) are the very mice who help her when she forgets something important (to put candy in the pinata).  The mice and Abuelita become friends!  The text introduces Spanish vocabulary seamlessly as the party preparations proceed through a week. A fun little story full of love and rich, happy illustrations.


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