Adventures, Superheroes, and Magic: Hispanic Heritage

Get ready to have some fun with our Hispanic Heritage booklist about big adventures, unforgettable superheroes, and mysterious magic! These tales not only celebrate special people, places, and traditions, they also encourage kids to use their imagination. What better way to introduce young readers to the fantastic world of magical realism?

Charro: The Mexican Cowboy

Age Level: 9-12

Visit Guadalajara, Mexico and live for a day in the life of a Mexican horseman during the celebration known as el día del charro. In this photo-essay, Ancona discusses the training necessary to become a charro or a charra.

Chato Goes Cruisin'

By: Gary Soto
Illustrated by: Susan Guevara
Age Level: 6-9

"After winning a sweepstakes cruise for two, Chato invites his best friend, Novio Boy, along. The two "home cats" find themselves the only felines on a dog-oriented cruise, and the partying canines keep the cats up all night. Then all the pooches become ill, the radio breaks, and the captain sends Chato and Novio Boy out in a small boat to find help… Most noteworthy are Guevara's brilliantly colored paintings, as winsome as ever, and the humorous black-and-white comic-strip insets that extend the fun." — Booklist

Chavela and the Magic Bubble

Illustrated by: Magaly Morales
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: Chavela loves chomping chicle — chewing gum and blowing bubbles. One day, while out with her abuelita, she finds a mysterious kind of gum she has never seen before. She pops it in her mouth and blows a giant bubble that lifts her up into the air and carries her on a magical journey. Luscious, candy-colored paintings illustrate this fantastical story with an ecological twist. An afterword provides information on natural chewing gum, the rainforest, and sustainable farming, as well as music to a traditional Latin American folksong.

Elena's Serenade

Illustrated by: Ana Juan
Age Level: 6-9

Elena wants to be a glassblower like her father, but there is a problem: "Who ever heard of a girl glassblower?" Elena decides she must go to Monterrey where the great glassblowers are, and sets off on her journey with a pipe in hand — dressed as a boy. Elena soon discovers her own hidden talents and the power of believing in yourself. Ana Juan's lovely illustrations convey the magic of Elena's journey. Also available in Spanish and Chinese.

Firefly Summer

Age Level: 9-12

"In this turn-of-the-century novel, seventh-grader Teresa attends school in San Juan and travels home in time to celebrate the Feast of the Cross with her extended family, friends, and plantation workers on her parents' finca…Belpré submitted Firefly Summer for publication during World War II, but it was rejected because of a paper shortage; it is available now because of a national project whose aim is to locate, identify, preserve, and make accessible the literary heritage of U.S. Hispanics." — School Library Journal

Isla

Illustrated by: Ms. Elisa Kleven
Age Level: 3-6

Product Description: Rosalba is going on an imaginary journey to the Caribbean island where her grandmother grew up. Through her abuela's eyes, Rosalba visits with relatives who still live on la isla and sees the beautiful terrain of the island, from the lush, tropical rain forest to the bustling old city. Along the way Rosalba and her grandmother visit a busy fruit market, then cool off with a swim in the turquoise sea filled with colorful fish. Their magical trip is brought to life by Elisa Kleven's shimmering collage artwork.

Lucía the Luchadora

Illustrated by: Alyssa Bermudez
Age Level: 6-9

Lucía zips through the playground in her cape just like the boys, but when they tell her "girls can't be superheroes," suddenly she doesn't feel so mighty. That's when her beloved abuela reveals a dazzling secret: Lucía comes from a family of luchadoras, the bold and valiant women of the Mexican lucha libre tradition. Cloaked in a flashy new disguise, Lucía returns as a recess sensation!

Maximilian & the Mystery of the Guardian Angel: A Bilingual Lucha Libre Thriller (Max's Lucha Libre Adventures)

Age Level: 9-12

Product Description: Maximilian acts like any other eleven-year-old aficionado of lucha libre: he worships all the players. But in the summer just before sixth grade, he tumbles over the railing at a match in San Antonio and makes a connection to the world of Mexican wrestling that will ultimately connect him — maybe by blood! — to the greatest hero of all time: the Guardian Angel. A 2012 Pura Belpré Author Honor Award winner.

My Island and I: The Nature of Puerto Rico

Illustrated by: Alexis Lago
Age Level: 6-9

"Written by Caribbean naturalist Alfonso Silva Lee, My Island and I is a colorful children's picturebook about the natural ecology of an island — from fallen trees becoming food for fungi and termites to the thoughts of lizards and the interaction of fish. The watercolor-style illustrations by Alexis Lago bring to life the festive, multifaceted wonder of natural life." — Children's Book Watch

Napí

Illustrated by: Domi
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: Napí is a young Mazateca girl who lives with her family in a village on the bank of a river in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Each afternoon the family sits beneath the shade of a huge ceiba tree and listens to the grandfather's stories. As Napí listens, she imagines different colors — orange, purple, violet, and green. When night comes, the trees fill with white herons settling on their branches. Domi's vibrant palette and magical illustrations perfectly complement this imaginative story.

Our California

Illustrated by: Rafael López
Age Level: 3-6

Visit some of the most special places in California, from the big (San Francisco) to the small (San Juan Capistrano) and everything in between! Vibrant and whimsical illustrations from Rafael López create a vivid impression of how a child might remember California's unforgettable natural and man-made wonders.

Pacific Crossing

By: Gary Soto
Age Level: 9-12

Product Description: In Japan for the summer to practice the martial art of kempo, Lincoln Mendoza sometimes feels like little more than a brown boy in a white gi. Yet with the help of his Japanese brother, Mitsuo, Lincoln sees that people everywhere, whether friend or kempo opponent, share passions much like his own — for baseball, family traditions, and new friendships.

The Case of the Pen Gone Missing: A Mickey Rangel Mystery

Age Level: 9-12

"The Case of the Pen Gone Missing is a tricky one for a young sleuth. The hitherto unattainable Toots Rodriguez solicits Mickey's help when she is accused of stealing a classmate's special pen, the one actually touched by the President of the United States when he signed the bill sponsored by the classmate's father. Mickey's observational skills are blunted by his attraction to this deadly damsel in distress, but a timely tip from a mysterious 'Angel' puts him on the right track, and he not only finds the pen, but exposes the real culprit." — Mystery Scene Magazine

The Mystery of the Mischievous Marker: A Mickey Rangel Mystery

It's Monday morning, and kid detective extraordinaire Mickey Rangel is on the hot seat. When his principal instead brings up the recent rash of graffiti on school grounds, Mickey is initially horrified that she might think he's involved. But he quickly realizes why she has called him in: she needs his help! Mrs. A. has heard that Mickey is a detective, and he confirms that he's the "real deal," with an online certificate to prove it. She wants him to unmask the Mischievous Marker, the person writing messages all over the school's walls.

The Smoking Mirror (The Garza Twins, vol. 1)

Age Level: 9-12

Carol and Johnny Garza are 12-year-old twins whose lives in a small Texas town are forever changed by their mother's unexplained disappearance. Shipped off to relatives in Mexico by their grieving father, the twins soon learn that their mother is a nagual, a shapeshifter, and that they have inherited her powers. In order to rescue her, they will have to descend into the Aztec underworld and face the dangers that await them. Winner Pura Belpré Author Honor Award.

The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez

Illustrated by: Tom Lintern
Age Level: 3-6

Product Description: When both the Tooth Fairy and El Ratón Pérez arrive to claim Miguelito's tooth, sparks fly under the Mexican-American boy's pillow. Who will rightfully claim his tooth? This magical tale introduces a legendary Latino character to a new audience and provides a fresh take on the familiar childhood experience of losing one's tooth.

Under the Lemon Moon

Illustrated by: Rene King Moreno
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: One night Rosalinda is awakened by a noise in the family's garden. She is astonished to see a man creeping away with a sack of fruit from her beloved lemon tree. Rosalinda seeks out La Anciana for advice. The wise old woman offers an inventive way to help the tree and the man driven to steal her lemons. Set in the Mexican countryside, this charming story explores how it feels to get gifts — and to give them.

We're Sailing to Galapagos: A Week in the Pacific

Illustrated by: Grazia Restelli
Age Level: 3-6

"A colorfully garbed couple take readers on a jaunty journey to the Galapagos Islands. For each day of the week, the rhymed text introduces one of the islands' unique animals. The repetition of the chorus "We're sailing to Galapagos. I wonder who we'll see" encourages audience participation. The bright collages create striking vistas that will also enhance group sharing. The youngest listeners will enjoy the visit to giant tortoises, black iguanas, and blue-footed boobies before they sail home." — School Library Journal

Where Fireflies Dance

Illustrated by: Mira Reisberg
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: In the night sky, the moon hangs low and the fireflies flicker. A young girl in a small town explores the haunted house of the revolutionary Juan Sebastian, discovers music on the cantina's jukebox, and is chided by her mother for mischievousness. Award-winning poet and writer Lucha Corpi recalls her childhood in Jaltipan, Mexico and shares the discovery that, like Juan Sebastian, each person has a destiny to follow.

Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Takes Off (Book 1)

Illustrated by: Miguel Benitez
Age Level: 6-9

Freddie isn't sure where his new sneakers came from, but he loves the way they help him zip around his neighborhood! Whether it's to save a puppy or help a friend, Freddie is sure to put his new shoes to good use. Freddie will appeal to children of all ages and backgrounds, but he is likely to hold a special place in the hearts of kids whose families, particularly military families, are struggling during difficult times. This is the first book in the Zapato Power series.