Red Hot Salsa edited by Lori Marie Carlson

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Title: Red Hot Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Being Young and Latino in the United States

Genre: Poetry

Page Count: 140

Publication Date: 2005

Summary: Some of the poems are completely written in English and are accompanied by full Spanish translations.  Some of the poems are a mix of English and Spanish.  There is a Spanish glossary in the back for the poems written in both languages so you don’t need to have any knowledge of Spanish in order to enjoy this book. The book is sectioned into Language/Identity, Neighborhoods, Amor (Love), Family Moments/Memories, and Victory.

Recommended: Yes.  The poems are written by a variety of contemporary Hispanic poets and as a Spanish teacher, I really enjoyed this volume – it could easily be incorporated into a Spanish class of any level. There is a short biography of each of the authors in the back of the book.

If You’re Offended: No problems here

Noteworthy Excerpts: “Taco Bell is NOT Mexican Food!”    “Spanish is a matter of rolling rrrrs clicking the tongue, And placing your hands on your hips when your little brother pours cereal into your fishbowl.”

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The House on Mango Street

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Author: Sandra Cisneros

Genre: Fiction

Page Count: 110

Publication Date: 1984

Summary: In short, separate vignettes, the author talks about growing up in a Latino neighborhood in Chicago in the 1960s and 70s. Each vignette is about everyday, ordinary events, but sometimes the events are more meaningful than the narrator lets on.

Recommended: I went back and forth on this one but I finally settled on yes.  The narrator is the author as she was growing up so sometimes she is not mature enough to truly understand what she is seeing in the neighborhood around her.  The writing is average but again, that’s because it’s the author as a young girl.

If You’re Offended: No problems here.

Noteworthy Excerpts: “She knows to say: He not here for when the landlord comes, No speak English if anybody else comes, and Holy smokes. I don’t know where she learned this, but I heard her say it one time and it surprised me.”       “When you leave you must understand to come back for the others. A circle, understand? You will always be Esperanza. You will always be Mango Street. You can’t erase what you know. You can’t forget who you are.”