White Ravens: Mexico

21 books      

Mexico (Spanish) - 1995 - 130
Libura, Krystyna (text)
Burr, Claudia (text)
Urrutia, María Cristina (text)
De lo que contaron al fraile
(What they told the monk)
México: Tecolote: SEP, 1994. [32] p.
(Colección Ya verás)
ISBN 968-7381-06-X
Mexico/History - Aztecs
The series "Colección Ya verás" offers glimpses into various epochs and events in Mexican history. The editors and authors have turned to historical texts and pictures from the respective periods in order to make their portrayals as authentic as possible. In this volume Aztec society is depicted on the basis of Historia general de las cosas de Nueva España by Bernardo de Sahagún. The book's content of short, adapted texts from the original, accompanied by illustrations from the Codex Florentinus. As in the other volumes of the series, only some of the historical highlights can be presented, but an interested reader will be stimulated in any case to find out more about the subject. (10+) ☆

Mexico (Spanish) - 1997 - 178
Posadas, Carmen (text)
Martínez, Enrique (illus.)
Liliana bruja urbana
(Liliana, the urban witch)
México, D.F.: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1996 (1st ed. 1995). 47 p.
(A la orilla del viento; 63: Para los que están aprendiendo a leer)
ISBN 968-16-4680-0
Witch - Tom cat - Modern life - Tradition - City life - Country life
Although Liliana, an urban witch, appreciates the comforts of modern life, she is simply sick and tired of the hustle and bustle of her surroundings. So she decides to move to the country, taking along her spoiled tom cat, Gómez, who finds the idea awful. Life in the country turns out to be idyllic but quite uncomfortable because the convenient instant magic potion cubes soon run out and Liliana has to begin brewing everything in the old fashioned mannr again. In the end thetwo city creatures return to their old haunts in the city. This tale casts an original light on the differences in life styles between city and country; the fluent, humorous narrative is abundantly spiked with witty ideas. (8+)

Special Mention - Mexico (Spanish) - 1998 - 170
Gedovius, Juan (illus.)
(<Proper name>)
México, D.F.: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1997. [28] p.
(Los especiales de A la orilla del viento)
ISBN 968-16-5410-2
Imagination - Creativity - Oppression
Juan Gedovius' wordless picture book leaves much room for fantasy and choice of interpretation, thus setting in motion what the pictures illustrate: imagination. Creativity that cannot be held back, won't be cut down to size, and always finds a way to be expressed is the focal point here, personified as a bubbly, green, disheveled gnome. He smears color on the walls, is chastised by a »heavenly« hand, then plopped into a bathtub to get clean, threatened by the thick pencil tail of a dragon and singed by its blazing flames. And in spite of it all, he begins to decorate the walls again, this time with his sooty body. Although there seems to be little to see in this very original, attractively illustrated book, it calls for a closer look. Then it is possible to discover the wit and to become curious about what else might be hidden behind these pages. (6+)

Special Mention - Mexico (Spanish) - 1998 - 171
Rojo, Vicente (illus.)
Escenario múltiple
(Multiple stage)
Zapopan, Jalisco: Petra Ed., 1996; Supplement by Hugo Hiriart: Castillos en el aire.. 23 p.
(Arte y lenguaje)
ISBN 968-6445-17-x; 968-29-9587-6
Castle - Palace - Paper theater
Upon opening this folder one finds nine pieces of colored cardboard: round, rectangular, pointed forms, openings and slots. Are they to fold, stand up, look through - a castle, a temple a theater? Portals, merlons? Anything is possible, for this paper scenery gives few instructions; it is merely an invitation to play and experiment to one's heart's desire. An attractive brochure provides additional suggestions about theater and paper theater, about transforming and fabricating, and about abstract pictures and forms. (7+)

Mexico (Spanish) - 1999 - 176
Bautista, Ana Gabriela (text)
Coupry, Claudine (illus.)
Cómo escalar un pastel
(How to climb a cake)
México, D.F.: Ed. Petra / Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1997. [24] p.
ISBN 970-18-0647-6; 968-36-5389-8
Cake - Mountain climbing - Nonsense
How do you climb a cake? Actually it is no different than climbing a mountain, except that one needs to ness of cakes steeped in alcohol, and also be aware that anti-meringue boots are best suited for the job. Ana Bautista and Claudine Coupry have »baked« a colorful, baroquely playful picture book. The ingredients are: a crazy nonsense idea that invites the reader to continue fantasizing; bold, double-spread pictures in glowing, creamy colors on a rough, wallpaper-like background; and an imaginative typography that renders the short text quite inventively. (6+)

Mexico (Spanish) - 1999 - 177
Jorajuria, David (text)
Jara, Maru (illus.)
El gato palomero
(The pigeon cat)
México, D.F.: Ed. Corunda, 1998. 23 p.
(Mis segundas letras)
(Coed. with Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes)
ISBN 970-7444-38-X; 970-18-1581-5
Cat - Pigeon - Flying - Power of will - Self-confidence
Is it insanity, naivity, trickery or pure mischief when a cat climbs up the bell tower and stubbornly insists that it is - admittedly a somewhat unusual - pigeon. The pigeons are most amused, but also find it irritating when the cat refuses under any conditions to leave their tower. When she is challenged to demonstrate her powers of flight, the impossible becomes real. Rather clumsily, but quite genuinely, the cat flatters about and thus manages to lay claim to her right to join the pigeons. This engaging story about will power and belief in the impossible is complemented by stylized illustrations in brilliant colors. (4+)
(Premio FILIJ de Cuento para Niños, 1997)

Mexico (Spanish) - 1999 - 178
Montes, Graciela (text)
Legnazzi, Claudia (illus.)
La venganza de la trenza
(The revenge of the plait)
México, D.F.: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1997. 29 p.
(A la orilla del viento ; 89)
ISBN 968-16-5437-4
Hair - Plait
»Ema has a simple name, but difficult hair...« is the first line of this entertaining story. Ema hates plaits, especially those that her mother braids everytime after she works through Ema's hair with a comb that for Ema seems like a crocodile that moves through a river full of rocky knots. Fortunately someone comes along to save her and make sure that Ema forgets all that trouble and laughs again - flashing more teeth than any real crocodile. Using her well-known humorous style of narration, the Argentine author tells a very funny, fast-paced story. The caricature-like drawings underscore the dynamic flow of the text. (7+) ☼

Mexico (Spanish) - 1999 - 179
Sandoval, Jaime Alfonso
El Club de la Salamandra
(The Salamander Club)
México, D.F.: Ed. SM / Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1998. 223 p.
([Gran Angular] / M] ; 6)
ISBN 968-7791-43-8; 970-18-1055-4
Science - Philosophy of science - Fanaticism - Expedition - Submarine
Completely by chance Rudolph Green - a fifteen-year old boy who already teaches at the university and speaks eleven languages - finds himself in an adventure involving »anti-scientistis.« A mysterious message that he finds in a can of tomatoes in New Guinea takes him first to Rome and then later to unfathomable ocean caves. There he gets to know more about the »antiscience,« a conglomeration of theory and knowledge developed by a secret society which has been persecuted by traditional scientists for centuries. Humor, irony, love, a bit of science and a strong dose of lunacy are the main ingredients of this amusing adventure story. (12+)
(Premio Gran Angular, 1997 - México)

Mexico (Spanish) - 1999 - 180
Serrano, Francisco (comp./preface)
24 poetas latinoamericanos
(Twenty-four Latin American poets)
México, D.F.: CIDCLI, 1997. 254 p.
(Coedición Latinoamericana)
ISBN 968-494-079-3
Latin America/Poetry/Anthology
Eleven publishers have collaborated in the »Coedición Latinoamericana« to produce anthologies of Latin American stories, fairy tales, legends, etc. for young adult and adult readers. Through such co-editions it is possible to produce large printings of ambitious projects at comparatively low prices. Each volume in the now fourteen volume series is prepared by one publishing house. The coordination of this ex- emplary form of cooperation lays in the hands of CERLALC, an instituion which promotes literature and book production throughout Latin America. This volume represents an excellent and wide selection of Latin American poetry. (13+) ☆

Mexico (Spanish) - 2000 - 168
Rendón Ortiz, Gilberto (text)
Bohórquez, Rossana (illus.)
Los cuatro amigos de siempre
(Four friends for eternity)
México, D.F.: Ed. SM, 1999. 120 p.
([El barco de vapor / M / Serie naranja] ; 3)
ISBN 968-7791-82-9; 968-7791-76-4; 970-18-2367-2
Physical handicap - Physical activity - Friendship - Illness - Daydream - Grandmother/Grandson - Death
Manuel lives with his grandmother in a house in the country with a giant yard. It would be a paradise for a boy not tied to a wheelchair and sickly. In order to fulfill his longing for freedom and friendship, Manuel creates his own dream-world, that is drawn largely from his wide reading experience. There he finds the friends and experiences the adventures that are denied him in the real world. With Manuel himself as narrator, reality and fiction become interwoven. In his mind, the borders are shifting and both merge together to form a new reality. In spite of the sad conclusion, this emotional tale is carried by an optimistic tone. (10+)
(Premio El Barco de Vapor - México; 1998)

Mexico (Spanish) - 2000 - 169
Sastrías, Martha (text)
Nava Bouchaín, Francisco (illus.)
El sapo que no quería comer
(The toad who didn't want to eat)
México, D.F.: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1998. [36] p.
(Los especiales de A la orilla del viento)
ISBN 968-16-5758-6
Toad - Eating habits
The toad king has been invited to the spring festival of the turtle queen. All would be well if only the guest did not spurn every delicacy that is offered to him. The difficult riddle of what he would like to eat draws contributions from various specialists. Lamb, fish, toadstools? Perhaps fruit? No, none of these! His private physician must be summoned to explain what his master likes best of all: insects, insects, insects - morning, noon and night! Sketchy, fleeting, comic stripstyle drawings accompany this simple, clearly structured fairy tale-like story. They reflect the erratic mood of the toad king in particular in his facial play and gestures. (3+)

Mexico (Spanish) - 2002 - 168
Comotto (= Agustín Comotto) (text/illus.)
Siete millones de escarabajos
(Seven million beetles)
México, D.F. : Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2001. [40] p.
(Los especiales de A la orilla del viento)
ISBN 968-16-6380-2
Beetle – Birthday – Family
What happens when seven million beetles decide to embark on a great, dangerous journey over the seas to congratulate their beloved cousin Marcelo on his birthday? That's what this picture book tells us with wit and a twinkle-in-the-eye sideswipe at the sometimes overwhelming sympathy of the »dear family«. With great originality and spirit, Comotto creates a busy million-bustling-beetlesworld. His sketchy, edgy, scrawly, and caricaturesque lines bring to life a repulsive, creepy, yet equally fascinating character cast. Limiting himself to the tones of black, grey and white, he courageously goes against the conventional aesthetics of picture books. (4+)
(Premio A la orilla del viento ; 2000 ; Libro ilustrado)

Mexico (Spanish) - 2002 - 169
Gedovius, Juan (illus.)
Morado al cubo
(Sticking to the dice)
México, D.F. : Alfaguara, 2000. [30] p.
(Alfaguara infantil)
ISBN 968-19-0751-5
Dice – Chance
When you open this book, you will be faced with a bunch of bizarre and prehistoric-looking gnomes, giants, and dinosaurs: furry and bristly ones, greenskinned and wrinkly ones, teeny-weeny and massive creatures. By chance, a dice happens to be thrown into this world. It starts poking the giant's foot, then it happily thrives in a flower-pot-like deformity on the gnome's head, serves as dragon food, and finally ends up with the angry giant again, who originally wanted to get rid of it. This simple circular tale without words fully focuses on the characters, only adding a few minor details. The illustrations powerfully strike the imagination because they leave ample room for the readers' own crazy ideas and mental experiments. (4+)

Mexico (Spanish) - 2002 - 170
Jaeger Cordero, Silvia
El huevo azul
(The blue egg)
Monterrey, Nuevo León : Ed. Castillo, 2000. 119 p.
(Castillo de la lectura) (Serie verde)
ISBN 970-20-0127-7
Tyrant – Power – Dream – Prophecy
Even though timeless like a fairytale, this story is undoubtedly inspired by the myths of the Aztecs, the ancestors of today's Mexicans. The mighty governor Tutul impels his subjects to acknowledge him as their absolute ruler and insists on being henceforth addressed by all – even his omnipresent Ara – as »King Tutul«. At the peak of his power, Tutul dreams a mysterious dream. Instead of announcing his fortune, as anticipated, this dream, which in truth is an ancient prophecy, predicts the fall of the despot. The poetic, figurative language and the humorous narrative of this story make this an entertaining read even for younger readers. (7+)
(Premio de Literatura Infantil y Juvenil »Castillo de la Lectura«)

Mexico (Spanish) - 2003 - 170
Isol (text/illus.)
El globo
(The balloon)
México, D.F. : Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2002. [28] p.
(Los especiales de A la orilla del viento)
ISBN 968-16-6573-2
Mother – Daughter – Authoritarian education – Mother’s love – Balloon
»One day, Camilla’s wish came true. Her mother turned into a balloon and didn’t shout at her anymore.« Until the end of this simple, yet refined picture book, it is not clear whether this transformation really happens. It may be only wishful thinking by the girl who avoids her mother’s verbal attacks in this way. The red balloon resembles all that Camila wants her mother to be: It does not shout, she likes it, and she has a lot of fun with it. »Well,« Camilla finally sums up »you can’t have everything.« The witty illustrations – sketchy, cartoon-like drawings combined with red, yellow, and green backgrounds – perfectly capture the little girl’s emotions. (5+)

Mexico (Spanish) - 2004 - 163
Lago, Angela (text/illus.)
Juan Felizario Contento : el rey de los negocios
(Lucky Juan : the king of bargaining)
México, D.F. : Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2003. [28] p.
(Los especiales de A la orilla del viento)
ISBN 968-16-7047-7
Fairy tale – Lucky Hans – Happiness – Materialism/ Idealism – Civilisation/Nature
The Brazilian illustrator Angela Lago keeps surprising her readers with new, unusual pictures – as in this ingenious interpretation of the fairy tale of Juan, the »King of bargaining«. Juan inherits a gold coin. After several trade-offs, he is left with a bird’s feather that seems to be worthless but rewards him with an »immeasurable moment of joy.« Juan’s itinerary begins in an urban setting scarred with high-rise-buildings and motorways that Lago illustrates with a chaotic myriad of colourful brush strokes. As Juan leaves this world behind, the background gradually quietens down. In the last picture, which shows the moment of happiness, there are merely two soft fields of colour: the blue of the sky and the beige of the earth. (5+)

Mexico (Spanish) - 2005 - 163
Isol (text/illus.)
Secreto de familia
(Family secret)
México, D.F. : Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2003. [48] p.
(Los primerísmos)
ISBN 968-16-7046-9
Morning – Hairstyle – Mess
One morning, a little girl makes a shocking discovery: Her mother is actually a porcupine. That’s the only plausible explanation for why her hair is poking in all directions when she gets up. To soothe her nerves, the child spends a night at her friend Elisa’s house. But there, it’s even worse: The next morning she is surrounded by a sleepy family of bears with wild shaggy fur. In this picture book, the Argentinean illustrator once again perfectly proves her characteristic skill of discovering weird and magical elements beneath the surface of everyday events. The dynamic, witty illustrations perfectly mirror the humorous and screwy tone of the story. (5+) ☼

Mexico (Spanish) - 2006 - 165
Birmajer, Marcelo
El siglo XX
(The 20th century)
México, D.F. : Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2004. 125 p.
(A través del espejo)
ISBN 968-16-7056-6
Tradition Modernity – Civilisation – Freedom
In this riveting novel, partly told in the archaic language of ancient legends, Marcelo Birmajer again demonstrates his talent for creating gripping plots. Here, »The 20th century« is not only an era but also a country and modernity in general with its achievements for civilisation as well as its barbaric downsides. That’s where Juan travels, a member of an isolated tribe, whose rites and myths offer clarity and comfort but on the other hand also prevent progress and individual freedom. Taking the boy, who struggles with inner conflicts but becomes more mature during his journey, as an example, this novel points out that the lines between tradition and mordernity, innocent paradise and modern hell, suppression and freedom are blurred and not nearly as clear as we would expect them to be. (12+)

Special Mention - Mexico (Spanish) - 2006 - 166
Gusti (text/illus.)
La mosca : [en: »Un día perfecto puede llegar a ser una pesadilla«]
(The fly [in: »A perfect day can turn into a nightmare «])
México, D.F. : Abrapalabra, 2005. [36] p.
ISBN 970-9705-03-2
(parallel edition by Ed. Serres, Barcelona / Spain)
Fly Excursion – Habitat – Perspective
A fly as the protagonist of a children’s book? Yes, it is possible. In this highly comic picture book, a representative of this inconspicuous species makes a spectacular appearance. The readers join the cheerful insect, well-equipped with bath towel, ball, and sun screen, for an outing. Yet suddenly the relaxed beach fun turns into a horror trip. The sky turns black, a huge »meteorite« crashes into the water, and the fly only just manages to seek shelter from a gurgling mega-maelstrom. Well, such a catastrophe is bound to happen when human beings and animals share the same »habitat«, in this case, the toilet bowl. This crazy tale is told with a lot of wit and intelligence. Right until the very surprising end, it consistently sticks to the unsuspecting fly’s point of view. The refreshing illustrations, painted, torn, and glued together with energy and enormous imagination, skilfully play with film-elements such as extreme perspective, blow-ups, or the »actor’s« direct stare into the »camera«. A truly delightful picture book! (4+) ☼

Mexico (Spanish) - 2007 - 165
Barajas Mariscal, Libia E. (text)
García Bernal, Víctor (illus.)
Vida y fortuna de un muchacho inquieto que se convirtió en científico
(The life and fate of a restless boy who became a scientist)
México, D.F. [et al.] : Castillo, 2005. 23 p.
(La otra escalera) (La máquina del tiempo)
ISBN 968-5920-61-3
Sigüenza y Góngora, Carlos de – Mexico/1645-1700 – Astronomy – Science
At his time, Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora was one of the most renowned scientists on the American continent. Observing nature in a methodologically exact and careful way, he argued in favour of a strict divide between astronomy and astrology, a field which was then still regarded as very important among scientists. This comprehensible, well structured non-fiction picture book gives an excellent overview of the versatile astronomer and geographer’s life and work. Fairly unusual for a work of non-fiction are the double-page illustrations composed of details from old photographs, maps, documents, and books. Drawn figures move between these elements as if they were on a stage. Thus, the illustrations are not only informative, they also have a narrative quality. (9+)

Mexico (Spanish) - 2007 - 166
Pellicer, Carlos (text)
Pellicer López, Carlos (select./illus.)
Colores con brisa : [poesía para mirar en voz alta]
(Colours with a breeze : [poetry to be looked at aloud])
México, D.F. : Fondo de Cultura Económica; Anturios Ed., 2006. [40] p.
(Los especiales de A la orilla del viento)
ISBN 968-16-7869-9
Poetry – Nature
It’s the magnificently designed pictures that turn this book into something special. They consist mainly of shapes and colours. Huge, almost monochrome planes, squares, rectangles, waves, circles, and torn and cut paper form partly abstract compositions in bright colours that have a fascinating power to draw readers to them. In his pictures, the well-known illustrator Carlos Pellicer López (born 1948) opens up a new way of interpreting the literary work of his uncle, Carlos Pellicer (1897-1977). The texts are a selection of verses from the author’s lyrical work written mainly between 1920 and 1950. The imaginative descriptions of nature provide an insight into the literary cosmos of this poet who belongs to the Mexican avant-garde movement. (6+)