You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children. — Madeleine L’Engle Clare Vanderpool has this quote on her website, and I’d have to agree–sometimes books for young readers are incredible in their depth, perception, and bravery […]

When most people think of Kansas, we tend to think, “flat.” And, after all, in Dorothy Must Die, author Danielle Paige called the Kansas town Flat Hill. I’ve already talked a bit about the Wizard of Oz movie and book (mis)perceptions of Kansas (including that Baum’s original descriptions were based on his unhappy experiences of […]

I’m really enjoying Linda Furiya’s memoir Bento Box In the Heartland: My Japanese Girlhood In Whitebread America (2006), but I have a little quibble. During her upbringing in rural Indiana, she experienced many incidents of casual racism. Her memories of comments that stung are poignant; she gives many examples of thoughtless words spoken by white […]

There are several important scenes in Spider Woman’s Daughter by Anne Hillerman, that take place in Chaco Culture National Historic Park. I will try not to give spoilers, but will instead stick to simply “illustrating”–providing the reader with a bit more information on what’s mentioned in the text. First of all, a map of the […]

Several of my recent reads for New Mexico are set (at least part of the time) on the Navajo Nation of the Southwestern United States. First of all, I should note that the Navajo Nation is located mostly in Arizona. The map below shows how the Navajo population is distributed throughout the Nation. (For reference, […]

I’ve been telling my 10 year-old son about the Navajo Code Talkers–and he’s loving it! Kids love secret codes–I certainly did, and so does my son. He recently received a Mail Order Mystery as a gift (the pirate one), and it included several messages in a basic pigpen code. He was very excited, and, although […]

In So Far From God by Ana Castillo, is, in many ways a quintessential novel of the Chicano experience, so it’s no surprise that the quintessential Mexican-American legend–La Llorona–appears. The basic legend is that La Llorona–literally the Wailing Woman–is a spirit who wanders–usually at night and usually along water–in search of her lost children. In […]

Names in So Far From God by Ana Castillo, are very important. I mean, you know when three of the four sisters are named Faith (Fe), Hope (Esperanza), and Charity (Caridad)–and their mother is Sophia (Sofi)–that their names are symbolic. Next, add in the fact that the fourth is called Crazy (La Loca)–everyone has called […]

When I was pregnant with my son and taking refresher classes in Spanish in preparation for starting my graduate degree in translation from Spanish to English, I spent 4 weeks in Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia, Spain (and another 2 weeks touring Spain and Portugal with my husband). We happened to be in Santiago on the […]

In The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages, the family of main characters visits Trinity–the site of the first atomic explosion. Both parents have been working on the “gadget” as it was referred to (in the book and in real life), and the father had been present on July 16, 1945 for the test itself. […]