Tuesday, August 27, 2019

They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid's Poems

Title: They Call Me Güero 
Author: David Bowles 
Publisher: October 22nd, 2018 
Publication Date: Cinco Puntos Press 
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel in Verse 
GoodReads Summary: Twelve-year-old Güero is Mexican American, at home with Spanish or English and on both sides of the river. He’s starting 7th grade with a woke English teacher who knows how to make poetry cool. 

In Spanish, “Güero” is a nickname for guys with pale skin, Latino or Anglo. But make no mistake: our red-headed, freckled hero is puro mexicano, like Canelo Álvarez, the Mexican boxer. Güero is also a nerd—reader, gamer, musician—who runs with a squad of misfits like him, Los Bobbys. Sure, they get in trouble like anybody else, and like other middle-school boys, they discover girls. Watch out for Joanna! She’s tough as nails. 
But trusting in his family’s traditions, his trusty accordion and his bookworm squad, he faces seventh grade with book smarts and a big heart. Life is tough for a border kid, but Güero has figured out how to cope.    
What I Think: David Bowles is one of my Latinx heroes. I appreciate everything he shares on Twitter and his overall essence. Maybe it seems weird to say but I've seen him on panels at NCTE and was at a roundtable session with him and he has a great energy. He knows a lot about Latinx history and the current state of Latinx affairs and he's passionate about sharing his ideas but he does it with such grace that he feels like an awesome big brother who is looking out for all Latinx people. If you don't already follow him on Twitter, I definitely recommend doing that. 
     As I was reading this book, I could hear David's voice on every page. I could also see my students and my family and myself. That's pretty amazing. Güero gets into lots of different predicaments and learns a few things along the way but I loved getting to know him, his friends, and his family. 
     In the snatch of text below, I enjoyed his description here and that he includes a simile even but I particularly love the idea of how words we hear transform into the way we live going forward. What an awesome image. As a mentor text, you could share this with students and ask them to think of their own similes to describe stories or advice they've received in their lives. In my Story Exploratory workshops, I talk a lot about how people, places, and experiences shape us and this is a great example of how people impact our lives whether we realize it right away or not. 
Snatch of Text: 
"Just think ---
I owe it all to those stories
my abuelita used to tell us
sitting in her rocking chair
as we shivered and thrilled.
Even then, words were burrowing
into my brain and waiting,
like larvae in a chrysalis,
to unfold their paper wings
and take me flying into the future." (p. 20)

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