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Calling the Doves/El canto de las palomas

by Juan Felipe Herrera

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From School Library Journal
Grade 1-3-A rich, personal narrative about growing up as a migrant farmworker. Herrera relates how he learned to love the land from his father, and poetry from his mother. He uses lyrical passages to portray everyday life, e.g., the ritual of breakfast: "The sky was my blue spoon,/the wavy clay of the land was my plate." The colored-pencil and acrylic illustrations are bright and at times fanciful. Simmons's artwork brings to life Herrera's words, which are printed in both English and Spanish, and reinforces his imagery. The page layout varies, but is appropriate for the mood of the story. The combination of a beautiful text and radiant paintings makes Calling the Doves an excellent bilingual picture book.
Maria Redburn, Collier County Public Library, Immokalee, FL
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist
Gr. 3^-6, younger for reading aloud. In lyrical and imagistic prose, prominent Mexican American poet Juan Felipe Herrera has written a bilingual memoir of his childhood as the beloved son of migrant farmworkers traveling from harvest to harvest in a truck towing their little square loaf house along the roads winding through the mountains and valleys of California. Embraced by the love of his family, Herrera was set on his own road to becoming a writer. "As the cities came into view, I knew one day I would follow my own road. I would let my voice fly the way my mother recited poems, the way my father called the doves." Composed in the style of robust murals, Simmons' lushly colored, creamy illustrations pulsate with a multitude of images as they chart the landscapes of Herrera's childhood heartland. Certainly a welcome alternative to the usually bleak portrayal of the migrant farmworker experience, this is an inspirational self-portrait of a loving Latino family. A poetic picture-book memoir that will add beauty to any literature, Latino culture, or biography collection. Annie Ayres

MultiCultural Review, March 1996
This is a compelling autobiography of an outstanding Mexican-American poet who offers an account of his humble beginnings.

His first eight years were spent traveling through California where his father was a migrant farmworker. The family of three lived in a tent resembling a gigantic "tortilla dipped in green tomato sauce". The resplendent language is enhanced by Simmon's realistic portrayal of Mexican Americans via brillantly detailed illustrations. The vivid colored-pencil and acrylic-paint-on-rag-paper illustrations energize the writer's account of his experiences with Nature (i.e., the howling wolves and Papa's dove-calling can almost be heard; the hot sun over the fields compels the reader to empathize with laborers; the aroma of tortillas, churros con canela y azucar, and other tantalizing foods seems very real).

Herrera is a role model and esteem-builder for Hispanics. This picture book is strongly recommended for use in migrant or ESL classes. --Osbelia Juarez Rocha, Odessa, TX

Book Description

Now available in paperback, poet Juan Felipe Herrera’s bilingual memoir paints a vivid picture of his migrant farmworker childhood. His rich, evocative prose re-creates the joy of eating under the open sky, celebrating at a fiesta with other farm families, and listening to his mother singing Mexican songs and his father calling the doves. “A welcome alternative to the usually bleak portrayal of the migrant farmworker experience, this is an inspirational self-portrait of a loving Latino family.” — Booklist



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