- Diego Rivera: His World and Ours (2011)
- Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant's Tale (2013)
- Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin (2010)
- Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family's Fight for Desegregation (2014)
- Born in Mexico City
- Grew up in San Miguel de Allende
- Graduated from Parsons The New School for Design and from Eugene Long College in NYC
- Award winning author/illustrator
Awards and Distinctions:
- For Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: * 2014 Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award * 2 honorable mentions (for illustrations and text) by Pura Belpre Award
- For Diego Rivera: * 2012 Pura Belpre Award for Illustration * 2012 Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award
- For Dear Primo: * Honorable mention by the 2011 Pura Belpre Award
- Inspired by ancient Mexican art * particularly the Mixtec Codex
- Aim is to create images that honor the past but address contemporary issues that affect people of Mexican origin on both sides of the border.
Pancho Rabbit and the Coyete is a tale about a young rabbit named Pancho, and his family and friends. One year, the rains did not come and the men had to move up north to find work in the fields. With an older group this can be discussed in relation with issues to illegal immigration today. After a few years, Pancho’s family throws a fiesta for the return of his father. However, his father doesn’t arrive, so Pancho heads out in the middle of the night to find him. He leaves with his father’s favorite food, but before long he runs into Senor coyote. Senor Coyete shows Pancho how to get to and cross the border separating them from “el norte,” but he does so at a cost. Senor Coyote takes all of the food that was meant for Pancho’s father, and when Pancho has nothing left, he tries to eat Pancho! But just in time, Pancho’s father and friends show up to save him. They return home, hoping their father never has to return to the north again.
Professional Connection: Involving diverse literature in the classroom is very important for teachers, and students. Books are windows and mirrors (Bishop, 1990). They act as windows for people to experience and see other cultures, ways of life, and new discovery. For example, for a white child with little or no knowledge of Mexican culture, a Duncan Tonatiuh book can give great insights to Mexican life and culture. More specifically, a child may have the opinion the illegal immigration is wrong, and that people who immigrate to this country and work illegally are ethically and morally wrong. However his book Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote may give the child a new perspective. He may realize that most workers would rather stay in Mexico with their families, and that their life in America and their journey there is hard. Thus it would act as a window, to give the child new perspective and understanding and, even in this situation, tolerance. When acting as a mirror, it would reflect one’s perspectives, experience and culture. Again using Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote, a Mexican-American may see his own family’s struggles. In this situation, a child would get to experience.
All books act as windows, and mirrors, but the problem comes when books only reflect the dominant white culture. Children may believe that their culture is less superior to white culture because it is not represented in class. They may think that their culture is weird and unusual. Also, white students may think that their culture is superior, and they won’t develop respect, tolerance and knowledge about other cultures and peoples. With both of these problems, expanding your classrooms literature to cover multiple places and cultures will help counter these feelings of superiority and inferiority. Even if you have no students of the culture represented in the book, it’s good to use just as a window for all students. Preferably, each book will give a window to learn thru for most students, and be a mirror for a few. These students will get to feel special and an authority on their respective culture, where as they may have just been a passenger or viewer of the dominant white culture.
In conclusion, showing books of multiple cultures helps destroy dangerous norms and feelings of superiority and inferiority. Furthermore, you give each child an opportunity to see their own culture represented in a positive light.
Bishop, R.S. (1990). Mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Perspectives, 6(3), ix-xi.