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News & Reviews

Luz Jimenez, Daughter of the Nahua



Abrams Books

for Young Readers

(pub. 8.17.2021) 48 pages

Author: Gloria Amescua

Illustrator: Duncan Tonatiuh

Character: Luz Jimenez

Overview: "As a young Nahua girl in Mexico during the early 1900s, Luz learned how to grind corn in a metate, to twist yarn with her toes, and to weave on a loom. By the fire at night, she listened to stories of her community’s joys, suffering, and survival, and wove them into her heart.

But when the Mexican Revolution came to her village, Luz and her family were forced to flee and start a new life. In Mexico City, Luz became a model for painters, sculptors, and photographers such as Diego Rivera, Jean Charlot, and Tina Modotti. These artists were interested in showing the true face of Mexico and not a European version. Through her work, Luz found a way to preserve her people's culture by sharing her native language, stories, and traditions. Soon, scholars came to learn from her.

This moving, beautifully illustrated biography tells the remarkable story of how model and teacher Luz Jiménez became “the soul of Mexico”—a living link between the indigenous Nahua and the rest of the world. Through her deep pride in her roots and her unshakeable spirit, the world came to recognize the beauty and strength of her people." Tantalizing taste:

" A girl stared at the stars sprinkling the hammock of sky.

Like many other nights she listened to the

whisperings of the ancient Aztecs in the wind.

She heard their xochicuicatl, their flower-song.

She listened as the elders repeated tales their grandfathers had told.

tales their grandfathers' grandfathers had told:

how sacred streams and mountains protect them,

how the Nahua lost their land to Cortes, the conqueror,

and to the Spaniards who followed them.

She was Luz Jimenez,

child of the flower-song people,

the powerful Aztecs,

who called themselves Nahua -

who lost their land, but who did not disappear."

And something more: Gloria Amescua shares in the Author's Notel: "At the University of Texas at Austin, I found a pamphlet announcing a symposium about Luz Jimenez in 2000, and I was immediately fascinated. Unfortunately, the meeting had already passed, but I kept the pamphlet anyway. In 2013, I wrote my first draft of this manuscript. I was drawn to Luz Jimenez, as both a teacher and as a Latina who grew up in Texas almost losing my Spanish language and culture. I've had to work at regaining both."

Updated: Nov 23, 2021

The Story of Leo Fender



Christy Ottaviano Books

Henry Holt and Co.

(pub. 9.7.2021) 40 pages

Author: Michael Mahin

Illustrator: Steven Salerno

Character: Leo Fender

Overview: "Leo Fender loved to thinker and tinker and take things apart and put them back together again. When he lost an eye in a childhood accident, he refused to think of himself as broken. With a new pair of magnifying glasses, Leo got back to doing what he loved, fixing machines big and small―even broken instruments.

His inventions―which included the Telecaster and the Stratocaster―would inspire the rock ’n’ roll generation and go on to amplify the talents of legendary guitarists Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Bonnie Raitt, among others. Fender’s brilliant engineering vision connected science and art forever."

Tantalizing taste:

"Western swing bands had cowboyed their way across the country and taken over the Los Angeles area with their super-swinging dance songs and their slip-sliding, electrified lap steel guitars and amplifiers.

These electrified guitars and amps were still new inventions, and good repairmen like Leo were hard to find.

Leo studied their schematics and searched their circuits like a detective looking for clues and connections. He quickly discovered that these instruments were easy to break and hard to fix. No one seemed to be building them with the musicians or repairmen in mind.

Leo thought he could do better."

And something more: Michael Mahin shares in the Author's Note: "As Fender expert Richard R. Smith has written, 'Given the role that music has played in American culture, it is not an exaggeration to say that Leo's instruments were engines of musical and social change, They bridged generations, races, cultures, and musical styles, bringing everyone in the world closer through music.'"

Updated: Nov 23, 2021

Isabella Stewart Gardner Builds a Museum



Neal Porter Books

Holiday House Publishing

(pub.9.7.2021) 40 pages

Author: Candace Fleming

Illustrator: Matthew Cordell

Character: Isabella Stewart Gardner

Overview: "For years, the indomitable Isabella Stewart Gardner searched the world for magnificent artwork and filled her home with a truly unique collection, with the aim of turning it into a museum, which she established in 1903.

Isabella always did things her own way. One day she'd wear baseball gear to the symphony, the next, she'd be seen strolling down the street with zoo lions. It was no surprise that she was very particular about how she arranged her exhibits. They were not organized historically, stylistically, or by artist. Instead, they were arranged based on the connections Isabella felt toward the art, a connection she hoped to encourage in her visitors.

For years, her museum delighted generations of Bostonians and visitors with the collections arranged exactly as she wanted. But in 1990, a spectacular burglary occurred when two thieves disguised as police officers stole thirteen paintings, valued at $500 million, including a Rembrandt and a Vermeer. They have yet to be recovered, though a $10 million reward is still being offered for their safe return." Tantalizing taste:

"New Years Day, 1903. The grand opening.

Visitors circled around her courtyard,

and through her second- and third-floor rooms,

feasting on champagne, doughnuts,

and art -

so much art-

on every wall, on every space,

visitors lingering,


wandering around and

among her objects in awe.

Isabella followed after them,


'Don't touch! Don't touch!'

Didn't they know that everything

was carefully arranged,

exactly as Isabella wanted."

And something more: The back matter explains that "It's my pleasure" was her "motto. The words, written in French - "C'est mon plaisir' - are even carved above the entryway to the Italian style palazzo she built and filled with art...There she lived among the objects of her collection. Some of these objects are works of art, but others are things she gathered and used during her life - letters and journals, dishes and teacups, dried leaves and seashells. All are given equal value, great art displayed next to bric-a-brac with no distinction between them... they are all about Isabella and her connections to and feelings toward the art."

Where to find Jeanne Walker Harvey books

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