Note: I've been working with Teaching for Change's Social Justice Books (SJB) Project for the last few months as a fellow, and it has been invigorating to join a community dedicated to justice and books in the same way that Reading Is Resistance is. As part of my work with SJB, I've been teaching my students to write critical book reviews using their See What We See method. Here is one of our first student reviews from Estella Frias.
REVIEWER NAME: Estella Frias
BOOK TITLE & AUTHOR: With Lots of Love by Jenny Torres Sanchez & André Ceolin
“She missed Abuela’s warm tortillas and the way they smelled sweet and fresh, like the damp earth after a soft rain. She missed the pretty song of her language.”
– Jenny Torres Sanchez, With Lots of Love
With Lots of Love tells Rocio’s riveting story about the struggle and newness of immigrating and trying to make a new home for herself. It celebrates Mexican culture and highlights the wonderful parts of her life that she had to leave behind, as well as the parts that she takes with her – the parts that nobody can take from her. From her grandma's tortillas to the view of the night sky, she recounts the things that she will miss and the experiences that will remain in her heart and life. Her grandmother sends her items that make her feel at home and helps Rocio realize that love and the beauty of her culture are things that transcend the limits of time and space.
Author Jenny Torres Sanchez is the daughter of immigrants and who beautifully explains the double consciousness of living in a place so different from her home country. the one which you came from. She understands and shares the unique experience of immigrants leaving their home in search of sanctuary in far places, full of new experiences. Because of this, her book gives readers an understanding of what the experiences of immigrants might be like, accurately and respectfully representing and focusing on Mexican-American culture and heritage and the ways it differs from the dominant culture in America. This fosters positive attitudes about self for those that who share this identity, and about others for those who do not share this identity. It positively reinforces the self-concept for children whothat understand the alienating experience of moving far away, as well as for people that who share the Hispanic identity.
This book is a great read for any child, immigrant or not. The plot was is easy to move through, emotional, and inviting. The illustrations were are bright and beautiful, provoking feelings of magic and mystery. The author and illustrator’s bright renditions of this beautiful culture is are sure to entrance children of any age, and draw them into the story. It is a positive book for those trying to learn more about the lived experience of others, as well as the ones trying to understand their own. The culture illustrated and described is valuable and interesting to people in all walks of life. Intriguing and emotional, this book opens up new avenues of understanding and appreciating ourselves and others.