Archive for the ‘Bilingual books’ Category

Celebrating René Colato Laínez’s 10th book release “Señor Pancho Has a Rancho”!

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Rene Colato LainezRené Colato Laínez is the Salvadoran American award-winning author of many multicultural children’s books and has been a featured guest blogger here on the PaperTigers blog. Earlier this month René’s 10th book, Señor Pancho Has a Rancho, was released!  As René says in his blog post introducing the book:

When I came to the United States, I discovered that not only people had problems learning a second language. Many farm animals had the same challenge too! El pollito said pío pío and the chick said peep peep. I am sure that you know that Old MacDonald had a farm. Now, he has a new neighbor, el señor Pancho, and in his rancho he has many animales.”


Señor Pancho Has a Rancho
By René Colato Laínez, illustrated by Elwood Smith (Holiday House, Inc.)senorpancho

“Old MacDonald Had a Farm” goes multicultural in this rollicking Spanish-English rendition.

The barnyard animals on Old MacDonald’s and Señor Pancho’s farms have a hard time communicating. MacDonald’s rooster says cock-a-doodle-doo! While Señor Pancho’s gallo says quiquirquí. The English-speaking chick says peep, peep, but el pollito says pio, pio. Then the cow says moo—and la vaca says mu! Maybe they’re not so different after all! So all the animals come together for a barnyard fiesta, because dancing is a universal language.

… [Readers]  will enjoy learning the names of the animals in both English and Spanish and comparing the onomatopoeia in each language. Chock-full of bicultural fun on the farm. -Kirkus Reviews

This is an excellent choice for read-alouds, but it also includes a glossary and pronunciation guide, making it useful in one-on-one contexts for young readers looking to develop Spanish vocabulary. -School Library Journal

To celebrate the book release René has been deemed  Luna Press and Bookstore’s author of the month in September and will be appearing in the store on September 14th to read from and sign his books.  Lots of fun activities are planned and you can visit Luna’s Facebook page or René’s blog for more details. The store is located at 3790 Mission Street in San Francisco.

Are you attending ALA 2013?

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013



Here’s an open invitation from author Alma Flor Ada, who would love to meet up with you at ALA, if you are attending.  She will be at a number of events so be sure to catch her:


Yes! We Are Latinos by Alma Flor Ada amd F. Isabel Campoy, illustrated by David Diaz (Charlesbridge, 2013)Saturday, June 29

10:00-11:30 am
~ Charlesbrige Booth #1908
Signing her new book Yes! We Are Latinos, co-authored with F. Isabel Campoy and illustrated by David Diaz.

2:00 -3:00 pm
~ Lee & Low Booth #2305
signing her book ¡Quiero Ayudar!/Let me Help!, illustrated by Angela Domínguez.
Sunday, June 30

1:00 -2:00 pm – Book Buzz Theater (see all the Book Buzz Theater events here)
~ Room S104A McCormick Place, Convention Center
“Roots and Wings: Books for the Spanish/Bilingual and Latino Interest Reader” – Isabel Campoy will also be on the panel.

Quiero Ayudar/Let Me Help, by Alma Flor Ada, illustrated by Angela Domínguez (Children's Book Press, 2012)Monday, July 1

10:00-11:30 am
Poetry Blast at the Top Stage, Exhibit Floor
Alma and Isabel will be sharing extracts from Yes! We Are Latinos, followed by a book-signing session.

For anyone interested in diversity in children’s books, as well as the Diversity and Outreach Fair, a “must” session will be this one led by Lee & Low and Cinco Puntos Press – no doubt it will build on the recent on-line discussion following Lee & Low’s blog post “Why Hasn’t the Number of Multicultural Books Increased In Eighteen Years?”  I wish I could be there!

This year’s ALA Conference is the 120th – and it also marks the 75th Anniversary of the Caldecott medal: so two great milestones!  And with their finger on the button, as ever, this year’s theme is “Transforming Our Libraries, Ourselves.”  No doubt there will be some lively and informative discussions.  You can see some suggested highlights here, or look through the whole, immense program here.

Books at Bedtime: Two Cat Stories from Tulika Books

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Two very different but equally delightful books from Tulika (India) provide a treat for catlovers to share with their children.

The cover of Where’s That Cat? (Tulika 2009/2011) shows a cheeky wee ginger kitten peeking from behind a curtain (and this is mirrored on the back, but Pooni the cat is no more than a cut-out outline) – but it offers no clue as to the rich detail of the book’s Indian setting.  However, I was sure it would be a treat because it is written and illustrated by Manjula Padmanabhan, who created the wonderful I Am Different. Manjula gave some background about Where’s That Cat? in a blog Where' sThat Cat? by Manjula Padmanabhan (Tulika 2009)post for Tulika when it was first published in 2009.

Little girl Minnie comes home from school and can’t find Pooni. She goes into the garden but, funnily enough, Pooni doesn’t come when she’s called! Minnie asks people all along the action-packed street if they’ve seen the cat, and meanwhile young listeners/readers will be eagerly hunting her out as she goes about her business, practically under Minnie’s nose.  Unusually for this kind of book that plays hide-and-seek with the reader, there comes a point when it really does seem that Pooni has disappeared, and readers’ dismay may equal Minnie’s – but, of course, by the end there is general relief from everybody both inside and outside the book.   Pooni has the last word – “Prrr” – and the final illustration shows Minnie cuddling Pooni, who is no doubt completely unaware of the trouble she has caused.  You can almost hear her purring!

Miaow! by Alankrita Jain (Tulika 2011)The second book is Miaow! by Alankrita Jain.  There are no humans in this story, just two cats, one black, one white; both with green eyes.  The story is short and whimsically charming.  A black cat falls into a can of paint and becomes a white cat – until it rains and the paint all washes off.  Then it meets a white cat and they become friends… maybe even fall in love, but that is left to readers to infer.  The simple story is told elegantly, and the stylised cats in the illustrations capture beautifully the elegant (yes, there’s that word again!) stretches and shapes that cats manage to make with their bodies.  An added bonus are the absolutely gorgeous inside covers that are filled in the manner of traditional Warli art (see Tara Books’ Do! for example) with little black cats doing all sorts of (human) activities.

Do take a look inside both Where’s That Cat? and Miaow! via Tulika’s website (click on “Look Inside” under the cover image).  Like all Tulika’s books, both books are available in several languages, and Miaow! is bilingual with English – the copy I have is English/Hindi, translated into Hindi by Sandhya Rao.  Both these books are perfect for young children, especially if they are at the stage with their reading that they want you to read to them, and then pick the book up for themselves.


Poetry Friday: Iguanas in the Snow and Other Winter Poems by Francisco X. Alarcón, illustrated by Christina Gonzalez

Friday, January 11th, 2013

This week seemed to fly by and I can hardly believe that Friday is upon us and it is time to celebrate Poetry Friday! For those who may not be familiar with the concept, at the end of the week many children’s book aficionados and bloggers often use their sites to contribute favorite poems or chat about something poetical in an event called Poetry Friday. The features can be original poems, reviews of poetry books, reviews of poetic picture books, links to poems at copyright protected sites, thoughts about poetry, song lyrics and  more.  One blog rounds up all the posts on the subject, so that poetry aficionados can read more posts on a favorite subject. The list of blogs scheduled to host  Poetry Friday in 2013 can be found here and you can delve into our PaperTigers’ Poetry Friday time vault here.

For this week’s Poetry Friday contribution I’d like to highlight one of my favorite children’s poetry books: Iguanas in the Snow and Other Winter Poems / Iguanas en la nieve y otros poemas de invierno by Francisco X. Alarcón, illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez (Children’s Book Press/Lee and Low Books, 2001). If the winter days in your neck of the woods are depressingly short, dark and gloomy, get hold of a copy of Iguanas in the Snow and prepare to have your spirit restored. You’ll immediately be taken to a wintery world of bright, engaging colors that looks to be just as magical as the long, golden days of summer are. Celebrate winter with a Mexican American family in Nothern California and witness their joy as they frolic in the snow, an experience that reminds the author of the iguanas playing by his grandmother’s house in Mexico. Celebrate life in a city where people are bridges to each other and children sing poetry in two languages. Be dazzled by the promise of seedling redwoods—like all children—destined to be the ancestors of tomorrow. This book was a well deserved winner of the 2002 Pura Belpré Award Honor Book for Narrative and can be read online on the International Children’s Digital Library  website by clicking here.

Iguanas in the Snow
what fun
to see snow
for the first time

on the Sierra Nevada
all dressed in white
like a bride

get out of
Papa’s car
in a hurry

touch the wet
snow with our
bare fingers

and throw
at each other

what a ride
to slide
down slopes

on top
of black
inner tubes

together with
brothers and sisters
cousins and uncles

all sporting
green jackets
and pants

in a sale at
the army surplus

“Ha! ha! ha!”
Mama laughs
and says with joy

“we look like
happy iguanas
in the snow”

This week’s Poetry Friday is being hosted by No Water River

Week-end Book Review: Sora and the Cloud by Felicia Hoshino

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

Felicia Hoshino, Japanese translation by Akiko Hisa,
Sora and the Cloud
Immedium, 2012.

Bilingual: English/Japanese

Ages: 3-8

Sora and the Cloud is award-winning illustrator Felicia Hoshino’s debut as an author. Featuring Sora, a little boy whose name means “sky,” this very delicate, whisper-like story in English and Japanese is about Sora discovering the world with the help of a fluffy cloud friend. And how appropriate that cloud and sky should come together!

While Sora and Cloud float around town dreaming up adventures, little Sora gets to see many familiar places (some readers will recognize the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Chinatown) and to learn more about his Japanese heritage. “Like a mobile in the breeze, Sora’s sky adventure spins all around him,” until he drifts gently into sleep and back down to earth, where more adventures await. The last page shows Sora and his family relaxing together under a big tree – the image of his little sister looking up to the sky and saying hello to a cloud fittingly pointing to the universality of children’s sense of wonder and boundless imagination.

Fans of Hoshino’s illustration work in A Place Where Sunflowers Grow and Little Sap and Monsieur Rodin will find the watercolors/mixed media in this bilingual treat a treasure trove to pore over and marvel at. The double spread of cute ants busily moving around town, matching Sora’s impression of people as tiny ants when seen from up above, is priceless. It adds a touch of sweet humor to a story that is all warmth, delicacy and gentle embrace.

Sora and the Cloud soars in more ways than one, and is a perfect story to share with very young ones who are starting to look at the world with wonder and amazement.

The short Japanese phrases and cultural references sprinkled throughout the book are translated and explained in the end matter, where we also learn that a portion of the book’s proceeds go to the Japan Earthquake Relief.

Aline Pereira

December 2012

Week-end Book Review: The Oldest House in the USA by Kat Aragon and Mary Jo Madrid

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

Kat Aragon, illustrated by Mary Jo Madrid,
The Oldest House in the USA/La casa mas antigua de los Estados Unidos
Lectura Books, 2012.

Ages: 6-8

Perhaps the best thing about The Oldest House in the USA, in my admittedly biased opinion, is that the author got it right: the oldest house in the USA is in Santa Fe, New Mexico (not far from where I grew up), and nowhere in New England.

There is a tendency in the United States to propagate the myth of European “discovery” which would suggest that this land was all but uninhabited before the Mayflower arrived in Massachusetts in 1620.  This couldn’t be farther from the truth.  In fact, the oldest house in the USA was already 400 years old by then and had already endured its first serious remodeling project!

It was built, as the angels Teresa and Annie who protect it in Kat Aragon’s charming bilingual picture book, tell us, in 1200 by the original inhabitants of what is now Santa Fe: the ancestral Puebloans.  They lived in the house for more than 200 years before something mysteriously drove them away.  It remained vacant until the Spaniards came in 1598 and has been continuously inhabited ever since.

The angels provide the narrative, and Mary Jo Madrid’s lovely watercolor illustrations help us realize that the house has been many things to many people over its 800 year history.  The Pueblo people were living in the house again, for instance, in 1680 during the Pueblo Revolt when they managed to drive out the Spanish for a brief time.  When the Spaniards came back, however, in 1692 under the leadership of General DeVargas, they recaptured the house and installed the Spanish governor there.  DeVargas gave his name to the street the house sits on, and so it remains to this day.

The Oldest House in the USA offers readers a glimpse of a part of US history that is very different from the one that is usually packaged up for school children, one that is no less rich or interesting.  Most children will see architecture and customs completely unfamiliar to them depicted in the illustrations, which will open their eyes to the many possibilities contained in the history of the Americas when we take the time to look a little more deeply.

Abigail Sawyer
December 2012

Week-end Book Review ~ Little Treasures: Endearments from Around the World by Jacqueline K. Ogburn and Chris Raschka

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

Jacqueline K. Ogburn, illustrated by Chris Raschka,
Little Treasures: Endearments from Around the World
Houghton Mifflin Books, 2012.

Ages 4-8

Most people have heard a parent calling their child “honey” (USA), “ducky” (UK) or “possum” (Australia). What about “kullanmuru” (nugget of gold) or “misiaczk” (bear cub)? While these may not sound familiar to some, to citizens of Finland and Poland, these are commonplace names that are heard every day.

As a young girl, author Jacqueline K. Ogburn always loved picture books, and anyone that picks up Little Treasures: Endearments from Around the World gets a sense of her passion. In this latest title, Ogburn has collected some of the most popular terms of endearment from around the world and presents them in this beautifully illustrated book. While Ogburn could have chosen to focus solely on the more commonplace languages (Mandarin, Spanish, and English), she has gone above and beyond by including endearments from countries such as Uganda, the Slovak Republic, and Finland. Even better is that alongside each endearment in its native language she not only includes the English translation but also the endearment’s phonetic pronunciation so that “readers can try to say all these sweet beautiful words…to express love for their children.”

The pictures, by award-winning illustrator Chris Raschka, were created using ink, watercolor, and gouache, and they complement Ogburn’s words perfectly. Raschka has created a sense of internationalism by adding certain details specific to each country, such as incorporating the colors of the country’s flag’s into the clothing (for example: blue, white and gold for Argentina) or including a woman in a burqa among the Arabic-speaking families. There is a certain playfulness to the characters as well, from the rainbow-palette of skin colors to a child’s lopsided smile, and the random stars, flowers, and animals that can be found among the children and their parents.

Along with the overall message that children are loved the world over, readers both young and old will delight in the vibrancy and excitement that comes with learning about a new culture and language, not to mention a few foreign words! Ogburn and Raschka have created a book that shows love is the same all over, no matter what culture, country, or continent you’re from.

Keilin Huang
August 2012

PaperTigers’ Global Voices: René Colato Laínez (USA/El Salvador) ~ Part 3

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Going Back to El Salvador ~ by René Colato Laínez

Part 3 of 3 (Read Part 1 “The War in El Salvador” here and Part 2 “My Life in the United States” here)

In the winter of 2010, I received a call from Salvadoran children’s book author Jorge Argueta. He and his wife Holly Ayala were organizing a children’s poetry festival in El Salvador and he was inviting me to present at the festival. For one reason or another, I had not gone back to El Salvador since my father and I had left the country and moved to the USA. I did my math: 2010 – 1985= 25. Twenty-five years away from El Salvador! It was time to go back.  I was returning to my homeland as a teacher and as an author.

My country was still beautiful. But in 25 years, there had been many changes. I saw new roads, big shopping centers and new tourist places. The war torn El Salvador had evolved into a peaceful place. Salvadorans are working hard to have a better El Salvador for the new generations.

For three days, November 8-10, more than 600 children visited the National Library Francisco Gavidia. They came from more than 25 neighborhoods around the country.  Children were excited to meet authors and poets. Some authors live in El Salvador such as Ana Ferrufino and Manlio Argueta. The rest of the authors came from others countries such as  Jorge Argueta, Francisco X Alarcón and Margarita Robleda, Jeannette Martinez Cornejo,  Jackie Méndez and myself.

Most of my books are about Salvadoran children such us René Has Two Last Names/ René tiene dos apellidos and My Shoes and I. Children were connected to these books because they could see their faces, culture and country. I told them that dreams come true. When I was a kid in El Salvador, I had two dreams: to become a teacher and to be an author. Now my dreams are a reality because I believed in myself, did my best and did not give up. Children looked at me with sparkles of hope in their eyes. They told me that they will also reach for their dreams and they were so proud to meet me a “famous Salvadoran author”.

Children were amazed to discover that a Tooth Fairy collect children’s teeth in the United States. They were interested in that “pretty princess” on the cover of The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez. “But she will not find any tooth here. All the teeth belongs to El Ratón,” a boy said. I told them that in the United States it was that pretty princess, the Tooth Fairy, who collects children’s teeth. They enjoyed the story and the adventure where their beloved Ratón Perez met their new hero the Tooth Fairy.

The Second Children’s Book Festival took place last November. Salvadoran authors Maria Guadalupe Castellanos, Silvia Elena Regalado, Jorgelina Cerritos and Manlio Argueta joined Jorge Argueta, Francisco X Alarcón, Margarita Robleda and myself. We had an incredible time reading to children. Children had fun writing their own poems and stories and you can watch a video of the festival here.

I am eager to go back to El Salvador for the Third Children’s Poetry Festival which will take place November 14 – 16, 2012. In this short video authors Jorge Argueta and Manlio Argueta talk about the next Children’s Poetry Festival.

In the meantime, we need to raise money for the next festival. We have an online fundraising campaign (click here to donate) and on Sept. 15, 2012 we will have the first Children’s Flor y Canto Festival at the Brava Theater in San Francisco. Come and visit authors Francisco X Alarcón, Lucha Corpi, Maya Christina Gonzalez, Jorge Argueta and more! Lots of surprises are in store and we guarantee a fun time for all! We need your support to have another great children’s poetry festival in El Salvador. Visit the Talleres de Poesia Facebook page to learn more!

René Colato Laínez is the Salvadoran award-winning author of many multicultural children’s books including  The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez, From North to South, René Has Two Last Names, I Am René, the Boy, Playing Lotería and My Shoes and I. He is a graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children & Young Adults. René is “the teacher full of stories” at Fernangeles Elementary School. In his books, you can find culture, fun and hope for the future. Visit him at and read our 2006 interview with him here.

We are thrilled to have René  join us as PaperTigers’ Global Voices Guest Blogger for the month of July. Part 1 of his series “The War in El Salvador” was posted here. Part 2 “My Life in the United States” was posted here.

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre will be joining us as our Global Voices Guest Blogger in August.

PaperTigers’ Global Voices: René Colato Laínez (USA/El Salvador) ~ Part 2

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

My Life in the United States ~ by René Colato Laínez

Part 2 of 3 (Read Part 1 “The War in El Salvador” here)

For Christmas of 1984, my mother sent me a new pair of shoes from the United States. I still remember my father’s words, “These are good gringos shoes. These are very good shoes for the trip to the United States.”

On February 17 1985, my father and I left El Salvador. Two days later, we arrived in Mexico City. Then, we were stuck in Mexico City for almost two months. We could not continue our journey because Mexican immigration took all the money from my father. It wasn’t until April that my mother sent us more money for our trip. During my journey, my father and I crossed three countries and climbed the mountains from Tijuana to the United States. But we made it to Los Angeles. My shoes were not new anymore. They had holes everywhere. One shoe was missing the sole.

There are certain moments that mark your like forever. My journey and my new life in the United States as a new immigrant created a big impact in me and in my writing. In my book, My Shoes and I, I tell the story of my journey and in my other books I write about the new immigrant child in the United States. Most of my books are based in my life and some are autobiographical just like René Has Two Last Names/René tiene dos apellidos and I Am René, the Boy/ Soy René, el niño.

I experienced the silent period and many culture shocks. In El Salvador René is a boy’s name. I could not believe it that in the United States my beautiful name was a girl’s name, Renee. Children not only laughed because I had a girl’s name but also because I had two last names, “Your name is longer than an anaconda” “You have a long dinosaur’s name.”

I was able to adapt to the new country. I studied really hard and graduated with honors from high school. Then, I went to college and became a teacher. But I did not have legal papers yet. My mother became a resident thanks to the amnesty program. She applied for my papers but it was 1993 and I had not received my green card. I started to work as a teacher because I got a work permit. For two years, I received letters from LAUSD, “We need to have evidence of your legal status. Your work permit will expire soon.” But finally in 1995, I received the famous immigration letter. Yes! I had an appointment to get my green card. It was not green after all. It was pink!

The ideas to write many of my books are born in the classroom. One day, a first grader told me, “I want to write a letter to my mamá. She is in Guatemala and I miss her so much.” That night I wrote a story named Waiting for Papá/ Esperando a Papá and it became my first published book. This book is based on my life. I wrote about the war in El Salvador and my feelings when my parents were away from me. I added the situation of a boy waiting for his father in the United States. Just like in the case of my first grader who was waiting for his mother.

A few years ago, one of my kinder students was crying because her father was deported to Mexico. Soon all my students told me that they knew someone who was deported too. This was my inspiration to write From North to South/ Del norte al sur. In my book, Jose’s mother is deported to Tijuana and now he and his father travel from north to south, San Diego to Tijuana, to visit her in her new home, Casa Madre Assunta, a shelter for deported women and children.

I got the idea to write the The Tooth Fairy Meets El Raton Perez when I heard my next-door teacher screaming and ready to go to the office. One boy told her that a mouse took his tooth the night before and that he loves that mouse because he visited his house often. There were five children living in the same house. “This child lives among mice and rats. I need to call social service,” she said to me. She did not go to the office after I told her about that special mouse. It was El Ratón Pérez, the tooth mouse collector in Latin America and Spain. In Spanish speaking countries there is not a tooth fairy. There is a Mouse, El Ratón Pérez.

My ex-students usually come back to visit me when they are in high school or college. Many of them have lost their Spanish skills by this time. I want to instill in these students and my future students the importance of being bilingual. This was my inspiration to write Playing Lotería/ El juego de la lotería. In this book a boy practiced his Spanish in Mexico while he played lotería with his grandmother.

I will continue to write more books but my goal will be always be the same, to produce good multicultural children’s literature; stories where minority children are portrayed in a positive way, where they can see themselves as heroes, and where they can dream and have hopes for the future.

René Colato Laínez is the Salvadoran award-winning author of many multicultural children’s books including  The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez, From North to South, René Has Two Last Names, I Am René, the Boy, Playing Lotería and My Shoes and I. He is a graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children & Young Adults. René is “the teacher full of stories” at Fernangeles Elementary School. In his books, you can find culture, fun and hope for the future. Visit him at and read our 2006 interview with him here.

We are thrilled to have René  join us as PaperTigers’ Global Voices Guest Blogger for the month of July. Part 1 of his series “The War in El Salvador” was posted here while Part 3 will be posted here on the blog on July 25th.

PaperTigers’ Global Voices: René Colato Laínez (USA/El Salvador)

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

The War in El Salvador ~ by René Colato Laínez

 When I was a child in El Salvador, I went to school, recited poetry, played with my friends and won a hula-hoop contest on national television. I might say that I had a normal childhood. But then, everything was upside down. For many days the school closed because of civil revolts. The radio and the television always talked about the army, guerrillas and the revolution in the country. The mad game came to El Salvador. The country was involved in a terrible civil war.

As I child, I did not really understand what was really going on. I asked myself many times, Why? Why were they doing this to the country? Before the war, when I heard a “boom”,  I clapped and jumped up a down. It was the sound of the fireworks for Christmas. A “boom” meant that Christmas was around the corner. But during the war, when I heard the first “boom”, I ran home and hid under my bed, while more “booms” went on and on. Because those “booms” were not the sounds of happiness, they were the sounds of war.

During the war, thousands of Salvadorans left the country looking for peace and better opportunities. Many of these Salvadorans traveled to the United States. My mom was the first one in the family who left the country. After many struggles, my father and I left El Salvador in 1985.

I arrived in Los Angeles, California and I had the determination to go to school to become a teacher. Now I am a kindergarten teacher at Fernangeles Elementary School. I am also the author of many children’s books.

In December 2010, Cinco Puntos Press contacted me to participate in a book. They were putting together an anthology about children and war and were wondering if I could consider submitting an essay for the anthology. Of course I said yes! I love Cinco Puntos Press books. I use their bilingual books in my classroom all the time. Participating in this anthology was an honor for me.

The name of the book is That Mad Game; Growing Up in a Warzone: An Anthology of Essays from Around the Globe. The editor of the anthology is J. L. Powers.

Now was the hard part. What to write about? I grew up during the war and I had so many memories. My fourth grade teacher was killed during the war. That morning, the school was closed. Instead of having class, all the students went to a funeral home that was located one block away from school. I also knew friends who were recruited and found dead days later in rubbish dumps.

But I wanted to write all the way from the bottom of my heart. I wanted to write about my family and how the war divided us. But it was hard! Remembering my mom saying good-bye at the airport, visiting my father in jail, listening to the terrible news that archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero was assassinated and the final chaos at the cathedral during his funeral were all hard memories to put on paper. I must confess that I wrote my essay with tears in my eyes. Also it was a good therapy to write the essay. Yes, the war divided us but it could not destroy our love, faith and family bond.

The name of my essay is Left Behind in El Salvador and it is part of seventeen accounts of children in war around the world. That Mad Game; Growing Up in a Warzone: An Anthology of Essays from Around the Globe is a powerful book. You can hear the voices of the voiceless. In the news, they only talk about names of war leaders, bombings, dead and desolation. But they usually don’t talk about the people who are suffering in the war. Those people that their only “fault” is to live and survive in the middle of a war. This book is bringing light to these forgotten voices. The book will be available this August.

Book Description:

Seventeen writers contribute essays about how they became adults in times of war. Essays focus on modern history but take no sides. Vietnam from both sides. Bosnia. The Gulf War. Rwanda. Juárez. El Salvador. The list goes on and on. There are no winners, just the survivors left behind. Picking up the pieces.

In his review of That Made Game, Charles London, author of One Day The Soldiers Came: Voices of Children in War  says “There is heartache in the stories J.L. Powers has assembled here, as well as loss and pain and death. They are about war, after all. But there is humor too, and also love and faith and hope, because they are human stories too, and as each one testifies in its own way, humans are able to heal.”

René Colato Laínez is the Salvadoran award-winning author of many multicultural children’s books including  The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez, From North to South, René Has Two Last Names, I Am René, the Boy, Playing Lotería and My Shoes and I. He is a graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children & Young Adults. René is “the teacher full of stories” at Fernangeles Elementary School. In his books, you can find culture, fun and hope for the future. Visit him at and read our 2006 interview with him here.

We are thrilled to have René  join us as PaperTigers’ Global Voices Guest Blogger for the month of July. Part 2 of his series will be posted here on the blog on July 18th and Part 3 on July 25th