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Latino Lit #1

Multicultural Literature for Youth

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Mora, Pat. 1996. Confetti: Poems for Children. Illustrated by Enrique O. Sanchez. New York: Lee & Low Books, Inc. ISBN: 1-880000-85-7 (pbk).

 

In Mora’s thirteen joyful, free-verse poems, a young Mexican-American girl shares the beauty and culture of her beloved home, the American southwest. All of the poems weave English and Spanish in a natural tapestry. Readers can build their Spanish vocabulary by referring to the detailed glossary on the final page. Mora’s poems not only vibrate, they sing and dance with rhythm and life. For example, in I Hear, I Hear, Mora writes, “I hear the rhythm of the Tarahumaras/ pom, pom,/  I hear them hoeing in the cornfields/ pom, pom,/ I hear them patting tortillas/ pom, pom,” (unpaged). Mora makes wide use of colorful metaphors. In Words Free as Confetti, she says, “I’ll sniff you, words, warm/ as almonds or tart as apple-red,/ feel you green/ and soft as new grass,/ lightwhite as dandelion plumes,” (unpaged). She also includes many sound words, such as “Silver ting-ting-a-ling jingles” (Colors Crackle, Colors Roar, unpaged). Mora knows both how to play with words and to craft memorable poems.

 

Sanchez’s illustrations are as glorious as the poems, and they complement the text well. Some of his acrylic illustrations have a dream-like quality. Several emphasize aspects of nature such as the sun, the sky, animals, and plants. All the pictures express happiness and joy, and they often contain swirls and other symbols that heighten the good feelings. Sally Dow writes, “Done in hot colors reflecting the sun, their swirling, dreamlike patterns suggest the openness and vastness of the land and the freedom of its inhabitants” (SLJ, 1996).

 

Reflecting the girl’s Mexican American heritage, the poems are filled with cultural markers including food, folk art, identification of Mexican Indian culture, celebrations, music, family, and language.  Mora does not address physical appearance or clothing. In Mexican Magician, a panadero (baker) sings as he makes empanadas, a “small pie or turnover” often eaten in Mexico (glossary).  In Purple Snake, a Mexican-style wood carver creates a purple snake that is “asleep” in the wood.  In I Hear, I Hear, Mora refers to the Tarahumaras, who are “Indians indigenous to northern Mexico” (glossary).  In Dancing Paper, the girl is decorating a room with a pinata, and she plans to add marimba music and cascarones (eggshells filled with confetti). In Abuelita’s Lap, the girl tells how safe and happy she feels with her grandmother. As mentioned earlier, the poems mix English and Spanish in a natural way. One can understand many Spanish words from the context and the illustrations, but the glossary is a welcome addition.

 

This reviewer feels so positive about Confetti that she ordered it for her school library. Young children will enjoy listening to the poems. Children in early primary grades will enjoy reading the poems alone and in choral groups.

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